Parks and Rec is full of lovable, unforgettable, and wonderfully quotable moments. There are the sad bits, where friends and lovers part ways; the happy bits, where people experience triumphs and have raucous celebrations; and lots of weirdly goofy bits that are just plain fun. A surprising number of these unforgettable moments revolve around food. You thought Dwight Schrute spent a lot of screen time eating? Well, he’s got nothin’ on the residents of Pawnee. And with the holidays in full swing (and our bellies full of delicious treats almost 24/7) what better time to take a look back at the top ten food moments of Parks and Recreation?
Ron Trying to Eat a Banana.
Most of the show’s best food moments revolve around Ron and his unyielding opinions about what foods are good, and what foods are just NOT foods (skim milk, vegan bacon, and fish make that particular list). His strict principles about what is appropriate for human consumption rule out pretty much anything healthy. When Ron’s doctor tells him he needs to start eating better to maintain his health, he knows he has to do it for the sake of his new family. Turns out, that whole “fruits and veggies” thing is easier said that done, but Ron is nothing if not resourceful, and apparently a Paunch Burger can cure all manner of ills. But really, I think we’ve all had moments when we know exactly how Ron feels.
Ann Distracting Leslie with Waffles.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to soften the blow of bad news with delicious food. But even waffles can’t prevent Leslie’s heart from breaking at the news that her best friend, the beautiful tropical fish, Ann, is leaving Pawnee for good. Hey, Leslie – just remember that while friends come and go, waffles will always be there for you. Waffles with whipped cream. Oh, and Ben.
Chris and Ron’s hamburger challenge.
One of Chris’s most admirable traits is his self-confidence. The man is basically a god (with 2% body fat), and he knows it. But even his perfect, confident self gets bested sometimes. Take his Iron Chef-style battle with Ron over whether beef hamburgers should remain in the City Hall cafeteria – his culinary masterpiece of umami goodness was a glorious reflection of his generally masterful self. But Ron’s simple, humble beef patty won the day. Sometimes even perfection isn’t enough to win popular favor – and even Chris has to admit that.
Andy demonstrating that food is energy.
Did you know that a high-kick equals a cookie? Andy knows that, thanks to Chris. This is a wonderful moment because it’s classic Andy. He’s dumb, but he’s cute. He’s innocent and naive, but he’s so full of passion and glee and wide-eyed curiosity about the world. Kind of like a big, goofy puppy. And puppies like cookies, too!
Ron enjoying the strip club buffet.
Is there anything more charming than a man who would choose free bacon over free breasts? Okay, maybe there is, but you can’t argue that Ron isn’t a unique man – a gentleman, really. Just don’t ever stand between him and a complimentary breakfast buffet. This is one of “Parks and Rec”’s most GIF’ed moments of all time, and with good reason – it’s Ron being his contrary, perplexing, food-obsessed self, and it’s hard not to love that rare glint of joy in his eyes.
Tom explaining “apps” and “zerts”.
This is probably one of the most shared “Parks” clips ever. Tom may have his shortcomings, but he understands creative branding like nobody’s business. Case in point: Food is never just food. It’s gotta have a SPIN – a little something’ special in the form of a clever nickname. Desserts are “zerts”. Sandwiches are “sandoozles”. Eggs are “pre-birds”. Life is so much more fun when you refuse to accept boring monickers.
Jerry’s ice cream at Ben’s bachelor party.
Watching Jerry enjoy his own portion of Ben’s five-way wish-fulfilment bachelor party is especially endearing because it reiterates so many of the things we love about Jerry: The fact that his actual name is Gary; his inexplicably smokin’ hot wife; his sentimentality; his innocence; the fact that he has friends all over town; his intense enjoyment of life’s small pleasures; and, of course, his clumsiness. Jerry never ceases to amaze and delight, and this scene is no exception.
The first Parks and Recreation Department family appreciation barbeque without Leslie.
If you’ve ever seen even a single “Parks and Rec” episode, then you’ve seen enough to know that Leslie is the heart of the department. And when the heart is removed, the body usually doesn’t fare so well. Such is the case when Leslie’s trip to visit Ben in Washington, D.C. coincides with the annual Parks Department employee appreciation barbecue. Ron tries to host the event himself, and things go predictably awry. It’s a reminder that nothing is possible without Leslie, the warm, resilient, and resourceful heart that she is. Oh, and it’s always fun to watch stony-faced Ron pitch a fit!
Tom giving Leslie fake scientific plant names.
This scene from early in the show’s evolution is pretty illuminating. It illustrates Leslie’s innocence, Tom’s taste in music and irreverent sense of humour, and the interesting relationship between these two vastly different colleagues. It has also forever cemented in my brain a connection between tomatoes and Soulja Boy.
Ben, Chris, and Ron get food poisoning.
Taste-testing wedding reception food turns into a lesson on how to crack the bottom of your toilet bowl for Ben, Chris, and Ron. The whole thing is pretty disgusting, what with all the sweating and heaving and discussion of intestinal misfortune, but it’s also hilarious. It’s hilarious to see tip-top Chris in less than fighting form; it’s hilarious to see stoic Ron show weakness; it’s hilarious to see Ben just give up and lie face-down on the carpet; and it’s hilarious that Tom’s Instagram obsession saved him from actually consuming any of the tainted food. But hey, at least they have each other.
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.