Photo: Claire Sutton, Flickr
Among my many duties as the world's foremost expert on Festivus is monitoring my website www.festivusbook.com. On the site, all of the many fine points of Festivus are debated, and many grievances are aired.
One point of contention that has raged for years is whether there is an official Festivus donut. Of course a larger question is whether there should be an official Festivus anything. Festivus, of course, is an alternative holiday made famous by an episode of Seinfeld and now celebrated at parties across the country. According to the show, its essential elements are an airing of grievances, feats of strength, and instead of a tree or a menorah, an unadorned aluminum pole is the symbolic object placed in your home. In other words, Festivus, often celebrated on December 23, is a cheap, somewhat bitter holiday that requires no gifts be bought, no tinsel hung and no cards sent.
Over the years, those who throw Festivus parties have added many of their own rituals and foods. There was Festivus wine crafted in Oklahoma, St. Festivus Ale brewed in Baltimore, and, in my book, a recipe for Festivus Ham with Junior Mint and Snapple Glaze (delicious, I assure you.)
All of this stuff is homespun. Since Festivus is a holiday with no intrinsic meaning, made famous by a show about nothing, the very idea of anything being "official" about it offends many Festivus friendly folk. And so when on December 22, 2006, someone with the user name Fifi posted the following, it started a storm: "Declaration by reason, that the Krispy Kreme donut be the donut for all Festivus parties!"
A Seattle-based user named Strike fired back: "Trying to impose your concept of what is delicious in the world of high-temp fat fried dough on the rest of us, denies the very nature of Festivus. By all means, declare your undying allegiance to the KK as the fluffiest, most desirable clouds of sweet, fragrant deliciousness if you must. Personally, I find they leave a slight layer of sticky wax on my upper palate -- not the most pleasant sensation. I much prefer the lovely cakeiness of Mighty-O, or the silly puffs of airiness that are Top Pot. Countryside makes the best maple bar I've ever had. But please don't impose your beliefs on the Festivus revelers at large."
By the following year, other users were suggesting alternative Festivus pastries:
"Cinnamon Babka," one suggested. "Bagels" said another. A more philosophical user commented: "Ideally, a Festivus dessert should be day old, i.e., something that a bakery or grocery store is selling at a reduced price. The consumption of goods that are past their prime symbolizes the essence of Festivus: Dreams denied."
Bravo to that, wrote another: "The official pastry of Festivus should be cookies. Broken cookies. Smashed into a million pieces. It symbolizes our shattered hopes and dreams. It laughs in the face of all the Martha Stewart types out there. And you can eat any size piece you damn well please."
Phooey to those suggestions, noted yet another celebrant, referring to the original Festivus episode of Seinfeld, actually entitled "The Strike" because the main plot is about Kramer's longstanding work stoppage against a bagel shop. "Personally, in deference to Kramer (because the bagel shop would not let him off to celebrate Festivus), I will not eat anything with a hole in the middle during Festivus -- bagel, doughnut, whatever."
What do you think the official pastry of Festivus should be? Leave a comment below.
Or you can air your grievances about anything else -- such as pomegranates, the subject of a rant posted a few days ago on my site: "What's with all the pomegranate?" wrote an anonymous user. "You can't even buy a juice now that isn't blended with pomegranate. Pomegranate quiche, pomegranate fettucini...Have you ever bitten into a pomegranate? I have, and it is not a pleasant experience at all. Why, yesterday I saw a guy come out of Starbucks with a pomegranate latte."