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edge staff writer


The Steamie Awards honor the best – and mock the worst – in fast food

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TV comedy writer Bill Oakley knows a thing or two about fast food. Best known for his work on The Simpsons during the show’s 1990s golden era, Oakley’s classic “steamed hams” sequence, involving show characters Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers, was a highlight of the 1996 envelope-pushing episode “22 Short Films About Springfield” and has been the subject of countless internet memes in recent years.

Oakley says his favorite hobby is reviewing new fast food and snack items for his Instagram feed and has just announced his picks for the best and worst fast food items of the past year in his latest edition of the Steamie Awards.

The annual Steamie Awards is a tongue in cheek ceremony delivered with a series of videos that begin with a brief introduction from a tuxedo-clad Oakley, sitting in the front seat of his car, while parked in his driveway. Oakley says each Steamie is based purely upon his own personal opinions.

“There’s no jury and no voters, it’s entirely me,” Oakley said during an interview with The Maine Edge. “I make every decision about each winner based on the extensive catalog of things that I’ve eaten throughout the year.”

Celebrities of varying caliber announce winners and losers in 10 categories, including the best and worst fast food items of the year, the biggest disappointment and best plant-based food item.

All-time “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings hosts an “in memoriam” segment, which honors one of Oakley’s favorite fast food items that is no longer available.

“The Double Decker Taco was my favorite thing at Taco Bell for many years,” Oakley said. “Ken did a great job of presenting a deadpan, very serious eulogy for it.”

Taco Bell was awarded another Steamie for best fast food burrito for its Steak Reaper Ranch Fries in a video presented by comedian Desus Nice.

Oakley says the award for “biggest disappointment” in fast food in 2019 goes to Burger King for their short-lived attempt at selling tacos. Oakley says that trying to consume one, especially in a car, was a very distressing experience.

“They were so laughingly crummy, I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “The ones I tried completely shattered like they were made of glass.”

Since plant-based foods have become so popular in recent years, Oakley included a new category this year for best plant-based food item. The award was announced on video by actor and comedian Ben Schwartz.

“It goes to Hardee’s Beyond Famous Star, a plant-based version of the chain’s signature burger from Carl’s Jr., which goes by the name Hardee’s on the east coast,” said Oakley, who also issued a runner-up award for Burger King’s Impossible Whopper.

“It’s really about 80% as good as a regular Whopper,” he said. “The thing that gives the Whopper its flavor is the condiments, the toppings, the mayonnaise, all working together. You could have a patty made of ground cardboard in there and it would taste pretty much the same, and that’s what they’ve done with the Impossible Whopper.”

The Steamie Award for best fast food item of the last year goes to Popeye’s.

“I don’t think it was a big surprise to anybody, so we made a bit of a joke about it,” he said. “It goes to the spicy chicken sandwich from Popeye’s. Not since the Dorito’s Locos Taco (a Taco Bell creation featuring a crunchy shell made of Dorito’s nacho cheese tortilla chips) has there been an item that captured America’s imagination quite so thoroughly as the Popeye’s chicken sandwich.”

All 10 videos can be seen on Oakley’s Instagram, Twitter and YouTube channels @ThatBillOakley.

During my interview with Oakley, we discussed the fact that he shares a name with a character seen on AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” a prequel to the hit series “Breaking Bad.” I’ve recently been revisiting the series’ first four seasons with my wife in preparation for the current fifth season of the show.

A recurring character dating back to the first season of “Better Call Saul” is a deputy district attorney also named Bill Oakley. Any connection, I asked? Come to find out, Oakley has been wondering the same thing.

“It’s my favorite show, and the fact that the character appears to have been named after me is a complete mystery,” he said. “I finally connected with the actor who plays Bill Oakley (Peter Diseth), and the producer told him he’s named after Charles Oakley, the basketball player (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets), so maybe it’s just a crazy coincidence.”

Or is it? In the latest episode of the show, the Bill Oakley character is seen eating Frito’s chili cheese flavored corn chips, which is probably something the real Bill Oakley did last week too.

In addition to his celebrated work on “The Simpsons”, for which he and writing partner Josh Weinstein won three Emmy Awards, Oakley has written for “Mission Hill,” “Portlandia” and “The Cleveland Show.”

Oakley and Weinstein are currently working on the Netflix dark animated comedy “Disenchantment,” from Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening. The show has been renewed for a 20-episode second season, scheduled to appear through 2021.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 March 2020 12:55


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