A new, food-tangential controversy is sweeping Twitter this week. And, despite being focused around one of the funniest foods (putting beans in places they shouldn’t be is top tier comedy, don’t @ me), this story does little to live up to the bean’s comedic potential.
When Twitter first suggested I check out the trending phrase “She’s 9,” I assumed the worst, said “yikes,” and went about my day. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything pedophilic in nature, but rather a piss-poor attempt at parenting.
“Musician and podcaster” (ugh) John Roderick took to Twitter with what he believed would be received as a charming anecdote. His 9 year old daughter brought a can of beans to him, and told him she was hungry. He decided, “I’m gonna make this a teaching moment,” handed her a can opener, and wished her luck. The lesson to be learned from this teaching moment, of course, is “my dad sucks,” because he proceeded to watch her struggle with the can opener for 6 hours. (Some people have since assumed the “6 hours” part was hyperbole, but Roderick’s defense of his initial tweets (before he deleted his account, because people did some digging and also found A TON of old antisemitic, homophobic and transphobic tweets) implies this is not the case.)
Eventually, the more I looked into this story, something clicked: this is the same John Roderick that wrote what was- up until now- being used as the theme song for My Brother, My Brother and Me, an actually good podcast. As soon as this realization hit me, I switched from my foodie Twitter to my normie Twitter and was immediately greeted by an announcement from the McElroy brothers declaring there were now in the market for a new theme song, confirming my hunch.
I’m not here to raise questions like “why’d this dude watch his daughter tearfully struggle for 6 hours and then brag about it on Twitter,” or “is this going to affect her ability to ask for help later in life.” Like, obviously. The real question is… why are can openers so hard to use?
One of the few things I remember from my childhood that could really get my mom swearing up a storm would be wrestling with our old electric can opener that would do nothing more than crimp the edges of the can and tear up the upper lip of the can’s label. We’ve gotten a new one since then but it’s only marginally better. My experiences in adulthood with the acoustic models typically haven’t fared a lot better; the label gets just as ripped up and if it isn’t the top of the can getting bent out of shape, it’s the blade of the can opener, because companies stopped producing quality can openers years ago (yeah, that’s right, I’m preemptively countering your boomer “this dumb millenial doesn’t even know how to use a can opener right” with my own boomerism, “they don’t make things like they used to.”) And don’t get me started on how people with arthritis or some other disability that limits hand dexterity are supposed to be able to use these things. Why don’t we have better can openers by now?
As much as “canned food is archaic and society has progressed passed the need for it” would be a hot take, it just isn’t true. Sure, a lot of the same products could be sold either frozen (most vegetables) or dried (beans). But dried beans completely eliminate the convenience factor of canned beans, and you can only store as much frozen food as you have freezer space for (god forbid you have any sort of elongated power outage.) Cans? You can put those bad boys anywhere.
It may also be worth noting that, on a serious note, he could have turned it into a genuine teaching moment by teaching her how to use the can opener and how to heat the beans. They could have used the moment to bond over the joys of cooking, in a way similar to what my parents did when I was curious about cooking at roughly the same age. But no, “Apocalypse Dad” had a very important jigsaw puzzle to work on.
We can walk away from this knowing two things are certain: 1.) When Roderick grows old and frail, he will ask his daughter for help with something and she will tell him to do it himself, and 2.) First thing Monday morning, the social media interns at Bush’s Baked Beans will be told they need to draft up a clap-back about how their cans have pull-tabs.