Before Thanksgiving, I made my own friends eat Rachel Green’s gross, sauteed beef trifle from Friends. It was quite unpleasant. I didn’t tell them about it beforehand. I didn’t want to repeat that strategy for my next strange cinematic cuisine experience because it would have violated the spirit of the season. Also, I imagine there’s a limit on how often you can turn your loved ones into unwitting lab rats you feed garbage to before they turn on you. This time I asked for volunteers, but I refused to tell them what we were eating. I thought for sure someone would guess the dish, but they didn’t, which is how I ended up throwing an authentic, surprise Maple Syrup Spaghetti Feast from Elf.
The group of volunteers included my wife Courtney, our friends Ray and Alex who hosted, as well as Lauren and a way-too-eager Jeff, with a bonus appearance from Ray and Alex’s young son William. The adults were served one scoop of spaghetti, along with one large spoonful of homemade marinara, except for Jeff who asked for more. Everyone then added as much maple syrup as they wanted.
I also gave everyone a 16-ounce bottle of Coca Cola, the only beverage allowed while eating; they were required to finish it during the feast.
We were all very worried about how gross this would be, but then, uh, it really wasn’t that bad. Seriously, it was kinda fine.
- “Way better than I thought it would be. If anything I don’t think there’s enough syrup.” — Jeff
- “It’s kind of like Chinese food, like a sweet and sour noodle.” — Courtney
- “It’s not good, but I could see how you could make a dish with these flavors.” — Ray
- “It gets worse with every bite.” — Lauren
The one thing everyone agreed on was that Coke and its 55 grams of sugar (fifty-five!) was not enjoyable.
Was this marinara and maple syrup spaghetti good? No. If any restaurant served you this, it would be your last time eating there. But it didn’t make us sick, because there’s sugar in marinara sauce already it was just super weird because it was sweet.
The next dish was a lot more…let’s say “intense.” Buddy tops his plain spaghetti with Sno-Caps, mini-colored marshmallows, M&Ms, and chocolate syrup. However, it’s safe to assume he added maple syrup when the camera cut away; he also had a bottle of caramel sauce on the table, so I made the executive decision to add those ingredients.
The Pop-Tarts came after.
Everyone dug in with specific instructions to only eat half of their dish.The spaghetti still smelled and looked like spaghetti, but all you could taste was a glob of sugar and chocolate with a chewy texture. The spaghetti didn’t absorb everything like you would think either. Every bite felt like it would never end. The “best” bites included Sno-Caps, which melted in your mouth without being mushy. That did not apply to the M&Ms, because as Ray very accurately pointed out, they get “lost” in the dish.
- “It’s the pasta that is ruining it.” — Alex
- “My brain is so confused.” — Courtney
- “I don’t love it, no, but I don’t hate it.” — Jeff (of course)
- “The marshmallows are getting to me.” — Lauren
The spaghetti was obviously the “biggest” problem, but you couldn’t eat this dish without the noodles to bind everything together. All of those candies mixed with three sweet sauces weren’t exactly delightful either. On the whole, it was, as you might guess, too sweet and strange, and only being able to drink Coke made it worse. A glass of water would have been fantastic.
Little did we know how bad it was going to get.
Buddy eats a big forkful of his dish in the film, then decides it’s missing something. He takes some Pop-Tarts, breaks them apart, and then uses his hands to crush them into the dish before eating all of it with his hands. So, we all ate the final version (wedding rings and watches wisely removed) with our cleanly-washed hands–while a two-year-old watched us in disbelief.
It was bad.
The chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts were sweeter than everything else combined because they absorbed all the sauces to become mushy bombs of cloying horror. And using our hands was vile and uncomfortable.
- “If I had a fork I could bypass my mouth.” — Alex, on why using your hands made it so much worse
- “This is so much better with more pasta.” — Jeff, who clearly has issues
One thing no one anticipated was how a sugar soup would form at the bottom of the plate, making the Pop-Tarts grosser and grosser. We all finished, but we were hurting.
- “It feels like it’s still in every aspect of my digestive system. It’s like a snake of sugar.” — Ray
- “It lingers.” — Courtney
- “My teeth hurt.” — Lauren
- “I’d eat the pasta with the sauce and syrup again.” — Alex
At least we were done. Almost. Because I take tremendous pride in being a professional moron, I decided to go the extra spaghetti mile and combine the two dishes: Buddy’s candy dish and the spaghetti with marinara sauce. Only Jeff volunteered to try it.
This photo captures the experience.
No, actually, it was so much grosser than that. The combination was horrific. This disgusting monstrosity of tomato and sugar wasn’t eaten in the film, so I could justify not continuing. At that point, all six of us wanted to crawl into a hole and hide from what we had done. We were full. Full of syrup and shame.
But one strange thing did happen: we all had a great time. This was stupid and ultimately pointless, but it was a fun excuse to get together and enjoy each others’ company during a hectic holiday season. Once again I found out just how great my stupid friends are. What better gift could you get from an elf, or from Elf, than that?
Elf Images: New Line Cinema