Waffle From Belgium

RORY: Lorelai Gilmore. Nope, doesn’t sound model-y enough. You need something that stands out more. How about Waffle? We could call you Waffle and say you’re from Belgium?

Rory is referring to the way many models have unusual or exotic-sounding names, sometimes the one they were given at birth, and sometimes self-chosen. (Alexis Bledel began her career as a model, so presumably would know of many examples).

Waffle is from Belgium because they are famous for this foodstuff. American love “Belgian waffles”, which were introduced to North America in 1962, and popularised in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair – a variant of the Brussels waffle, served with strawberries and whipped cream (the Belgian cook who brought them over didn’t think North Americans would recognise Brussels as the name of a Belgian city).

There are several different types of waffle in Belgium, and none of them are called Belgian waffle. They tend to be larger and lighter than Belgian waffles in North America, with larger squares and a deeper grid pattern. Unlike in North America, they are not served as a breakfast food, but more often as a dessert or afternoon snack with coffee. [picture is the American version of Belgian waffles].

Emily’s Barbecue

[Emily walks out onto the patio]
EMILY: What is this, a refugee camp? Come inside and eat at the table.
LORELAI: Mom, the whole point of barbecuing is to eat outside.
EMILY: Animals eat outside. Human beings eat inside with napkins and utensils. If you want to eat outside, go hunt down a gazelle. Make your decision, I’ll be inside.

More of Emily’s repressed, WASPY-y attitudes to eating, where pizza is something you only eat in a Turkish prison, and eating outside is something for animals or people in refugee camps. I can only think this attitude comes from country club barbecues, where the food would be cooked outside by the catering staff, but served indoors at tables like any other meal.

You can see how a lot of Lorelai’s poor dietary choices come out of a rebellion against her mother’s strict views on what foods are acceptable. Note that Lorelai and Rory immediately begin gnawing on corn cobs while hunched over in a corner, exactly like wild beasts, or starving people, comically fulfilling Emily’s expectations of what eating outside does to someone.

Poppin’ Fresh

[they walk out onto the patio, where a chef is cooking on the grill]
RORY: Hey, cool!
LORELAI: What’s up, Poppin’ Fresh?

Poppin’ Fresh, otherwise known as the Pillsbury Doughboy, is an advertising mascot for the Pillsbury Company’s refrigerated dough product line, created in 1965. His slogan is, “Say hello to poppin’ fresh dough!”. He’s a boy made of dough who wears a chef’s hat, hence Lorelai’s greeting to the chef.

Trident

LIBBY: You know, they say four out of five debs marry their escorts.
RORY: Kind of like the dentists with Trident.

Trident is a brand of sugar-free chewing gum. For many years it was advertised with the slogan, “Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” This is believed to have been based on a survey of practising dentists in the early 1960s, the results of which were approximately 80% in favour of sugarless gum.

In real life, it’s not true that 80% of debutantes marry their escorts. That’s preposterous, especially as most debutantes are matched up with some random guy. I’m not sure whether it’s meant to show Libby is a gullible fool, or whether the show actually expects us to believe this nonsense.

Kung Pao Chicken and Egg Rolls

Lorelai, Rory, Christopher and Dean have Chinese takeout for dinner on the night before the ball. It includes Kung Pao chicken and egg rolls.

Kung Pao chicken (in Mandarin, Gongbao jiding) is a spicy stir-fried Chinese dish traditionally made from cubed chicken, peanuts, spring onion, and chilli peppers. It is a classic of Szechuan cuisine dating the 19th century. It’s thought to be named after Qing Dynasty official Ding Baozhen (1820-1886), and his title of Gongbao (“palace guardian”); his surname Ding sounds like jiding (“chicken”), but also can be read “small cube”, like the cubes of chicken in this dish. Westernised versions of Kung Pao chicken can be much sweeter and stickier than the original, with more vegetables, and sprinkled with roasted peanuts; it’s a standard of Westernised Chinese cuisine.

Egg rolls are an appetiser, part of American Chinese cuisine. They are cylindrical rolls filled with shredded cabbage and chopped pork, encased in a thick wheat-flour wrapper, fried in hot oil. Oddly enough, there isn’t any egg in an egg roll. Similar to the Chinese spring roll, they are thought to have arisen in the Chinese-American community of 1930s New York, and are a staple of American Chinese cuisine, often served free by Chinese restaurants.

Little Debbie

LORELAI: Hey Little Debbie, your dad is definitely gonna be there.

Debutantes are often called debs for short. Lorelai turns this into Debbie in reference to Little Debbie, a brand of cookie and cake snacks that has a little girl on the logo.

It’s a product line of McKee Foods, and the company founders, O.D. and Ruth McKee named it after their granddaughter, Debbie, in 1960, even using her image to promote the products. Debbie McKee-Fowler is now the Executive Vice-President of McKee Foods.

Boston

CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, Boston. Baked beans, cream pie, tea party, strangler.

Boston is the capital of, and largest city in, the state of Massachusetts. It was founded by Puritan colonists in 1630. It has a population of more than 600 000 people, is one of the economically most dominant cities in the world, and is known for its diversity of neighbourhoods. It’s about two and a half hours drive from where Stars Hollow would be, so Christopher is significantly closer to them now. It’s also 15 minutes drive from Harvard University ….

Note that Christopher has moved to Boston without letting Lorelai and Rory know, or even giving them the landline number for his new apartment. It seems he hasn’t spoken to them since Lorelai’s bachelorette party, with the excuse that he was giving Lorelai space after she broke her engagement. Which might be reasonable, except he has a daughter, and there’s no excuse for not phoning her. Once again, Rory is an afterthought in Christopher’s relationship with Lorelai, rather than the focal point she should be.

Christopher quickly rattles off a few associations for Boston:

Boston baked beans

Baked beans sweetened with molasses and flavoured with salt pork or bacon. It’s been a speciality of Boston since colonial times, and baked beans with frankfurters is a favourite dish. Boston is sometimes known as Beantown.

Boston cream pie

A sponge cake with custard or cream filling, glazed with chocolate. It’s said to have been created in 1881 at the Parker House Hotel in Boston by a French chef. It’s the official dessert of Massachusetts.

Boston Tea Party

A political protest by the an organisation called the Sons of Liberty in Boston on December 16 1773. It was in protest of the Tea Act, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by British parliament. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes as a violation of their rights, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Protesters destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, boarding the ships and throwing chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly, and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history.

Boston Strangler

The name given to the murderer of thirteen women in Boston in the early 1960s; most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments with no signs of forced entry. In 1967 a man named Albert DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler while serving life imprisonment for a series of rapes; he was found stabbed to death in prison in 1973. Although his confession revealed some details of the crimes unknown to the public, and DNA evidence has linked him with the Strangler’s final victim, doubts remain as to whether he committed all the Boston murders. George Nassar, the prison inmate DeSalvo reportedly confessed to, is the major suspect; he is currently serving life in prison for murder. Several films have been made about the case, most notably The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis.

Christopher’s glib associations for the city bring to mind the way Rory summed up Chicago to Dean as “Windy. Oprah”.

Potlucks and Tupperware Parties

JESS: Potlucks and Tupperware parties aren’t really my thing.

A potluck is American English for a communal meal where everyone brings a dish of food to share. Commonly organised by churches and community groups, the food is rarely of gourmet quality (hence, you’re taking “pot luck” in what you’ll get to eat).

A Tupperware party is one organised to sell Tupperware, a line of plastic storage containers first developed by Earl Silas Tupper in 1946, and sold via multilevel marketing in the home. After being very popular in the 1970s, Tupperware suffered a slump in the mid-1990s, when it began to seem dated, so at this period was considered a rather middle-aged activity.

Quite rudely, Jess equates the lavish dinner Sookie carefully prepared to welcome him to Stars Hollow with community meals suitable for the dull and old-fashioned. This yet another meal prepared by Sookie which gets ruined, as Jess and Luke leave without eating, when the dinner was meant to be for them.

Danish Day

RORY: But the coffee is in there. And it’s Danish Day. Are you seriously telling me that you’re gonna let a stupid fight get in the way of Danish Day?

A Danish pastry, often just called a “Danish”, is a layered sweet puff pastry which was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers, and developed into a Danish speciality. They were brought by Danish immigrants to the United States, and became popular after they featured at the 1915 wedding of President Woodrow Wilson. In the US, Danishes are often given a fruit or cream cheese filling.

In this episode, we learn that Lorelai and Rory have a Danish for breakfast every Wednesday morning, which is one of their traditions. Rory orders cherry Danishes, but it’s unclear whether that is their preferred flavour. I’m also not sure whether it’s significant that cherries are so rich in sexual symbolism!