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What is ravioli? Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me no more.
Several years ago, there was a heated social media debate about whether a hot dog is a sandwich. Most said “no,” but once a mind is stretched to a new idea of what a sandwich can be, it can never return to its original form. People started to point out other things that could, with some creative thinking, be classified as sandwiches: burritos, ice cream tacos, even pizza. In 2018, the sandwich debate is old hat, but it’s given birth to an even more iconoclastic debate over food taxonomy: What is ravioli?
The discussion of ravioli’s true essence kicked off in July 2017 with this tweet from Ellen McGrody, who argued that Pop-Tarts, the toaster pastries with a sweet filling, are ravioli:
the sandwich discourse is played out. we need to have a new discussion.
pop tarts are a kind of ravioli.
— Ellen McGrody (@kadybat) July 8, 2017
If a sandwich is just some foods between some other food, as the internet has postmodernly posited, can’t ravioli be any type of grain-based shell with any type of filling? Sure!
calzones are just large ravioli
— Ellen McGrody (@kadybat) July 8, 2017
smucker’s uncrustables are ravioli pic.twitter.com/Gn9T74gMPC
— paul rudd (@philsadelphia) March 13, 2018
hot pockets are ravioli
— Dolly Spartans (@dollyspartans) March 4, 2018
and everyone knows that empanadas are ravioli
— yungworldconqueror (@godfieri_) March 3, 2018
pierogis are ravioli
— Matt Laliberte (@m_lalib) March 2, 2018
Fig newtons are ravioli.
Convince me otherwise.
— Justin (@wood_rum) March 9, 2018
Some even argued that Tide Pods, which are not safe to eat and are only a food in the world of internet jokes, are ravioli. Mamma mia! Where does it stop?
Tide pods are ravioli
— Steven Murphy (@iMurphaliciouS) March 1, 2018
Things That Are Technically Ravioli: 🍝
– fried egg
– Tide Pods
– a turkey (with stuffing only)
– a sandwich with the edges squished together
– a nice hat filled with jam that you sew shut
– any human until their ghost escapes
— Roxi Horror 💀🌸 (@roxiqt) March 7, 2018
The “Pop-Tarts are ravioli” meme re-entered the spotlight in early 2018, when someone Photoshopped a sign set up on a college campus by conservative media personality Steven Crowder. It originally said “Male privilege is a myth,” but it was replaced with “Pop-Tarts are ravioli.”
— Jason (Penguins 40-26-5) (@carlhagelin62) February 21, 2018
At the time, McGrody expressed some consternation that her Pop-Tart joke just wouldn’t die.
I did this. Why does this post continue to return and haunt me. https://t.co/jWf3H7PQ0b
— Ellen McGrody (@kadybat) February 24, 2018
Pop-Tarts even weighed in on the debate earlier this month on Twitter. The company (or social media manager for the company) apparently doesn’t believe that Pop-Tarts are ravioli.
Public service announcement:
1. Pop-Tarts are not ravioli
2. Pop-Tarts are not sandwiches
3. There will never be a Tide Pod flavored Pop-Tart
Have a nice day
— Pop-Tarts (@PopTartsUS) March 6, 2018
But the ravioli hypothesis is here to stay, and it has led to even wilder food-naming theories, including the “Cheerios are penne” conjecture:
if pop tarts are ravioli, then cheerios, topologically, are penne.
— Benjamin Zanin (@gnomon) July 8, 2017
The ravioli classification debate may be just one facet of a larger internet obsession with stuffed pasta. YouTube icon Filthy Frank hit it big in 2015 with a video where he walked around eating ravioli from his pocket and singing about it:
One person on Twitter declared that the “ultimate and final ravioli” is a coffin.
coffins : the ultimate and final ravioli
— egg dog ★★☆☆☆ (@egg_dog) March 7, 2018
It’s a dark joke—but is it wrong?
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.