An exploration of the hot sauces and light roasts of Linkin Park, Disturbed and System of a Down.
November 22, 2005. I jumped off the school bus and opened the front door of my parents’ house in Harleysville, Pennsylvania to see my older sister standing next to our family boombox, who had recently returned from a field trip to FYE.
“Ellie, you need to hear this one song,” she said as I dizzily ran over to her. The song in the queue was “Vicinity of Obscenity”, the ninth track from System of a Down’s fifth studio album. Hypnotize. It’s an aural collage that combines smooth funk, Zappa-esque silliness and loud, crunching riffs that my mom calls “headache music.” I was in love.
The endless refrain –“Banana banana banana banana terracotta, banana terracotta terracotta cake, BANANA BANANA BANANA TERRACOTTA CAKES, BANANA TERRACOTTA TERRACOTTA CAKES”– roared through our living room to frontman Serj Tankian’s spiritual vocals, which ranged from pleasantly gentle falsetto to what I can only describe as an “evil clown’s voice”.
“Beat the meat, treat the feet to the sweet, milky seat.” I was blown away – and I was hungry.
Was this album suitable for a sixth grader? Should Does a sixth grader hear a song called “Violent Pornography” and love it? Probably not, but much like adult jokes in a Disney movie, I didn’t know what the songs meant.
My sister and I have laughed about it over the years many Evidence of numetals in food. There was Limp Bizkit’s flop in 2000 Chocolate starfish and the hot dog flavored waterthat includes more euphemisms I wasn’t in the know when I was young. Of course there was “Chop Suey!”. There was obviously Korn – who were hardly ever seasonal (they released their fourteenth studio album in 2022). I didn’t understand it at the time, but part of my early – you could say premature – SOAD fan base stemmed from their gastronomic inclinations. As a child, many of her songs were just a step away from singing “On Top of Spaghetti” or Raffi’s gold-certified “Bananaphone.”
I recently attended the inaugural Sick New World festival in Las Vegas, a sell-out climax featuring nu-metal greats like SOAD, Korn and Deftones, as well as newer, noisy acts like Death Grips and 100 Gecs. People watching was great. I saw delicate necklace charms in the shape of the Hot Topic logo and so many mushrooms on t-shirts – and probably people on mushrooms too. It was in this sweaty mecca that I experienced the culinary/nu-metal Venn diagram that previously only existed in my head in its full IRL glory.
While browsing the venue map prior to the festival, I saw an activation called “Freak on a Leash” labeled as a pet grooming brand designed by Jonathan Davis. Holy shit. I saw another act called Korn Koffee, where 50 people lined up all day for drinks like “Coming Undone,” a gold-dust-speckled Tahitian vanilla rose latte (What looks so strong, so delicate…). It wasn’t until I ordered a chicken finger basket (which was my best life in sixth grade) that I realized Korn did it Also worked with HEATONIST on a roasted corn hot sauce. All my loved ones met at the festival site in Las Vegas that day. I went home and immediately ordered everything. I dreamed of throwing a nu metal dinner party complete with hot Korn chicken wings and Korn espresso chocolate cake (okay, maybe it would be more of a Korn dinner party).
The thriving business empire of a nu metal band was both fascinating and surprising to me. Historically, nu metal is neither the most marketable genre nor the most prevalent. Since breaking into the mainstream in the early 2000s, the music has been criticized and shunned by the metal community at large (and almost all rock critics). Trent Reznor once said that the genre was “really disingenuous”. that means, you may Pick up a Korn shirt from Urban Outfitters today — which, to me, is a telltale sign of full-on cyclical upgrading — but Twitter still treats the genre as both nostalgia bomb and a punching bag.
Yet the joy of this genre lies not only in being part of a club you undeniably love despite all the hate, but also in the fact that nu metal is inherently political, and its relationship with food reflects that. Many of the System of a Down food lyrics I sang along to as a kid condemned advertising culture, for example: “What a gorgeous cake, pizza pizza cake. Every minute, every second, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy.”
After returning from the Nevada desert, I sat in my Brooklyn apartment and asked myself, “What are the definitive nu metal edibles?” Juggalos have faygo; Emo kids have monster energy; Straight edge punks have liquid death. Korn had corn sauce and cappuccino, but it had to be more. I googled “nu metal food collaborations”. I was secretly hoping to see a long-forgotten Papa Roach Papa Johns special cake, or maybe an Applebee’s Puddle of Muddslide. The actual results were more thoughtful and esoteric.
In 2017, Linkin Park introduced a full custom menu at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar in Los Angeles, featuring “The Heavy,” a grilled cheese sandwich with gochujang pork belly, named after their lead single at the time. A year later, SOAD singer Serj Tankian and coffee brewer Ara Ajounian started C:AVAT coffee (“cup” in Armenian). They make real Armenian coffee called Soorj, which Tankian drinks several cups a day (how else could he do it). do that?). Not without context: Tankian once appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain: parts unknown to talk about Armenian culture and cuisine. The band Disturbed also released a coffee in collaboration with New York City’s Dead Sled Coffee in 2021. (Dead Sled has made coffee with a lot of metal and horror influences, including Rob Zombie and Elvira.)
I went to work and started adding items to my shopping cart. And when my metallic-tinged goth-hued products arrived, it was time for me to sample those nu-metal blends and answer some tough questions. Would Disturb’s brew make me sick? Would Serj’s coffee wake me up, grab a brush and put on some makeup, cover up the scars to make the concussion fade? Does any of this make sense? I am trying to answer these questions here:
Korn x HEATONIST “Here to Slay” Hot Sauce – 9/10
I eat a lot of hot sauce. I’m no expert, but I usually have four bottles of hot sauce on my countertop, which I crank and drizzle over pizza, eggs, burritos, and anything savory. I have five other hot sauces in the upstairs cupboard that I sometimes dip into. I’m proud to say that the grain sauce, which has a yellowish tint from all the corn, made it into my countertop picks. It’s vinegary, a little sweet, nice and spicy. The hot sauce gets harder and harder in the nozzle tip and I have to detonate it every time I want to use something (perhaps more of an “I” issue) but that’s the only flaw I think.
Disturbed x Dead Sled Coffee “Get Up: Dark Java Blend” Coffee – 8/10
The coffee is dark and dense when you open the bag and it smells like waking up at 6am and really enjoying it, watching birds in the garden and so on. I made it in a French Press and topped it off with some oat milk. It tasted chocolatey and had a beautiful bloom. I wish I had a piece of cake or biscotti to go with it. It was also very strong. I drank this coffee at 1pm and could hear my heart pounding in my ears. I have to say it put a kind of chalky blanket on my tongue that reminded me of Folgers, but I like Folgers! I’m not above Folgers.
Serj Tankians C:AVAT Medium Roast Coffee – 10/10
I not Buy those special pot You should buy to make this coffee. I’ve only used a regular pot, but even my regular pot version was really good – like the best cup of bodega coffee imaginable. I didn’t put milk or sugar in it, and it wasn’t necessary. It was more sweet than bitter and even stronger than the Disturbed coffee. I made it at 7pm and felt freaking crazy. Soorj is a little thick because the coffee grounds aren’t filtered out, instead settling at the bottom of the cup. You can read them like tea leaves.
grain coffee – ???/10
My Korn coffee never arrived. I emailed the Korn store to ask when they might ship and was told their warehouse is busy and they have NO estimate of when my order will be shipped. I couldn’t be mad. I was thrilled that people are investing in Korn.
Overall, I liked my sampling from the nu metal merchandise. While I was somewhat surprised by the entrepreneurship of a nu metal band, the genre’s intrusion into food was not. Essen is a long-established punk game, and to me nu metal sits right between Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys. What’s punkier than talk about prison reform?
Her lyrics and imagery may be pissed off and morbid – every suburban mom’s nightmare – and the pants are just…. . . extremely baggy. But the nu metal community is loving and family. At the end of their Sick New World set, the System of a Down bassist brought his young children onto the stage. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Serj Tankian go to protests together. Any mention of Linkin Park on the internet is met with a flood of RIPs for the late Chester Bennington, the band’s lead singer who died in 2017.
needless to say (“needles” say?)I’ve found both family and food in nu metal. Nu Metal is cathartic, like therapy. I cackled while brewing the disturbed coffee. I hope to see more nu metal foods in the future, even if I have to google “nu metal foods” to find them.