Culture

A Brief History of ‘Mother’s Hot Food’ the Best and Stupidest Meme You Don’t Know Yet

Culture

A Brief History of ‘Mother’s Hot Food’ the Best and Stupidest Meme You Don’t Know Yet

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The internet is a malignant, thousand-anused behemoth that despoils our every waking moment with its pitiless bone balladry, this much is evident. But occasionally, accidentally, it can provide brief moments of succor from its abysmal embrace. Often these moments come in the forms of memes, which we dutifully and gleefully share, each subsequent replication of which slivers off an outer layer of enjoyment until it’s left drained to an empty husk and we don’t remember what we ever saw that was funny about it in the first place.

 

That may yet prove to be the case with Mother’s Hot Food, the latest joke that you probably haven’t heard of, and never would have if not for this stupid blog post, but I’ve been thinking it would’ve happened by now every day for past three days and it’s still just as funny, and haunting, as ever.    

Let’s step back, briefly, and consider the joke’s origin. On Monday, the Jezebel vertical Kitchenette published one of its series of reader-submitted restaurant horror story posts. Among them were such typical fare as a table demanding grape jelly to spread on their pizza. But one stood out from the pack. Submitted by Lou Bergen, it relayed the story of an elderly couple (or was it?) continuously sending back their food at a seafood restaurant because it was never hot enough for mother’s liking.

Every 20 seconds, the man stretches his neck and starts looking for his waiter (which is me). Before he can turn the other direction…I’m there. “Mother likes her food very hot,” he says. He’s already told me 4 times, so the 5th should really make me remember.

The waiter does his best to ensure that food is hotter than anything he’s ever served, but it’s to no avail. “Oh no…this simply is not hot enough,” the man tells him.

I make some remark about re-doubling my efficiency. I then serve it three more times with the same result . “Oh…mother likes her food hot. Mother likes hot food. Food….hot food…mother must have it,” I had to endure every permutation.

The cook (who is also my stoner buddy) is at this point genuinely confused. “Dude…that shit will not get any hotter unless we flambee the fucker and you serve it on fire. Lucifer doesn’t eat food that hot.”

At this point, I come up with a plan: we’ll heat the serving dish until it’s on the verge of melting (or fracture). The radiant heat alone would cook a steak to well-done in under a minute. We leave this dish under the broiler until it glows dull red. Half of the gloop burns away instantly so we add another bag. The cheese is the temp of lava and literally boiling. We add another fistful just in case. My fear is that when I place this in front of mother, the tablecloth will burst into flames. She’s got a can’s worth of hairspray on her blue-haired head, so she’ll likely blow up as well. This would cost me money.

Finally, mercifully, mother is satiated. Mother has gotten her hot food, as mother is well known to like it. You may not realize it yet, but this is the funniest story you’ve read in a long time.

Twitter’s @rappinggranny first shared the post into my feed, where @crushingbort picked up on the delightful insanity going on here.

 

It’s worth reading the entire thread.  

 

Multiple people picked up on the obvious serial killer undercurrents, and, crucially, the archaic, affected musicality of the man’s diction.

 

  Not to mention the strange sexualized nature of the request.  

 

But it was that hypnotic speech pattern that made the phrasing insinuate itself into our brains.

 

It’s the type of phrase you can imagine yourself locked away in a padded room repeating over and over for years. And its trance-like nature was something that kept showing up over the next couple days in my feed.  

 

By yesterday I had mostly forgotten about mother and the temperature of her food, which, as we all know, must be piping hot. But then this tweet kicked it back into full gear.

 

It’s almost impossible to get out of your head once its black voodoo works its spell on you. Mother’s food. It must be hot, yes, yes it must. Hot for mother.  

 

You’ll find dozens and dozens of other such examples here.

 

 

I asked a couple of my friends who had been similarly ensnared by the gravitational pull of mother’s hot food, yes, yes, the hot food mother needs, why something so stupid was so funny.

“I really think it boils down to this line ‘hot food…mother must have it,’ @cushbomb said. “It’s just such a non-human sounding phrase and it has a weirdly implied sexuality to it.”

“Any grown man doing a Skinner-esque reference to his mother is good,” @pattymo added.  “But it’s basically Psycho come to life.”

That seems to be the way that a lot of people have read the relationship here, as one of a put-upon son doing whatever he can to please his overbearing mother, and then, probably, wearing her skin for a suit at some point later down the line. But I’m not sure that’s actually what’s going on here. “We’re all in agreement that it’s mother’s good husband not her large son, right?” I asked on Twitter. There was a lot of differing opinions about the nature of the relationship, with some assuming, because of the Norman Bates connotations, that this was obviously a son. I think, rather, it’s a more of a pseudo-Freudian infantilization scenario, wherein a husband has been steadily diminished over the years, regressing into the role of the child living in constant fear of mother’s voracious volcano hole of a mouth. Others pointed out that “mother” and “father” or “ma” and “pa” are often the way elderly parents refer to one another in their dotage.

They can all be true, but the Freudian reading strikes me as the most telling, particularly when you combine the implied sexuality of mother liking it, no, needing it in her mouth, and needing it hot, with the servile, child-like nature. Perhaps in his arrested, jumbled Oedipal state, the husband, or son, or both, is acting out, again and again, his wish fulfillment of seeing mother both gratified and burned to death at once.

Either way, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. But one thing I can say for sure is that the quickest way to spoil a joke, particularly an internet meme, is for some stupid website to do a post explaining it with a bunch of embedded tweets. Hopefully this should put us all out of our collective misery.

Then again, mother, she needs her food. Piping hot. Mother does.