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A combination of unlike elements

Why is it cool to put together two totally random things that do not go together?

Unholy mashup or brave combo?
Unholy mashup or brave combo?

Dear Hipster:

I have always wondered about the allure of weird, hipster businesses concepts that combine unlike elements under one roof. I’m thinking of things like a combination laundromat and bar, or a garage that only works on vintage Volkswagens and also sells music on vinyl and 8-track. It seems like the more different the concepts are, the more hipster and cool the combination is. Like, if you have an ice cream shop that also purveys a limited selection of imported dry goods, that’s regular and boring, but if you have a combination ice cream shop and used book store it’s hipster AF. Why is it cool to put together two totally random things that do not go together?

— Carleen

I think I know what you mean, like there’s a place called “General Store” but it only sells donuts and used costume jewelry on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You have to doubt there is much need for one-stop barbering and electrical supplies, and even a single such store would oversaturate the nonexistent market if there weren’t some other factor at play.

Maybe it’s like barbecue chicken pizza. When you consider it from a purely objective standpoint, barbecue chicken pizza might be one of the stupidest ideas ever to spring from a human imagination. In their own rights, both pizza and barbecue are two of the most amazing things humans have ever invented, but the way the two things have been combined seems to highlight the worst possible versions of each. The “barbecue” aspect of this atrocity amounts to nothing more than a splash of Sweet Baby Ray’s-caliber sugar sauce. That’s hardly a fitting tribute to barbecue, which may well be the greatest American contribution to world cuisine. As for the “pizza” part, it’s an Austenian “truth universally acknowledged” that as one strays further from the holy trinity of sauce/cheese/crust, one strays further from whatever passes for god in pizza form. It’s almost as if the creators of the barbecue chicken pizza combed the vastness of the multiverse to find the most un-pizza, un-barbecue thing that could possibly contain the words “barbecue” and “pizza” in its name.

And yet you wouldn’t be alone if you thought I’m being way harsh on the barbecue chicken pizza as a concept in and of itself. People love that garbage. They indiscriminately order it from fast casual chains and from fancy pants hipster pizza parlors that serve pies with raw egg on them. They douse it in ranch dressing and feed it to their children as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. It may simply be the case that people are drawn to the sheer incongruity of the thing, but it may also be the case that this abomination somehow creates an entity far greater in concept and execution than one could ever guess by measuring only the sum of its parts.

(On a side note, I’ve recently learned there is a restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa that conceptually combines pizza with American-style Chinese food and tiki drinks in those cool mugs that look like Easter Island mo’ai — I’m low key planning a field trip to find out if crab rangoon pizza is anything other than exactly what it sounds like, the only problem being I would need to go to Iowa to get the answer and that’s a pretty big ask.)

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Unholy mashup or brave combo?
Unholy mashup or brave combo?

Dear Hipster:

I have always wondered about the allure of weird, hipster businesses concepts that combine unlike elements under one roof. I’m thinking of things like a combination laundromat and bar, or a garage that only works on vintage Volkswagens and also sells music on vinyl and 8-track. It seems like the more different the concepts are, the more hipster and cool the combination is. Like, if you have an ice cream shop that also purveys a limited selection of imported dry goods, that’s regular and boring, but if you have a combination ice cream shop and used book store it’s hipster AF. Why is it cool to put together two totally random things that do not go together?

— Carleen

I think I know what you mean, like there’s a place called “General Store” but it only sells donuts and used costume jewelry on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You have to doubt there is much need for one-stop barbering and electrical supplies, and even a single such store would oversaturate the nonexistent market if there weren’t some other factor at play.

Maybe it’s like barbecue chicken pizza. When you consider it from a purely objective standpoint, barbecue chicken pizza might be one of the stupidest ideas ever to spring from a human imagination. In their own rights, both pizza and barbecue are two of the most amazing things humans have ever invented, but the way the two things have been combined seems to highlight the worst possible versions of each. The “barbecue” aspect of this atrocity amounts to nothing more than a splash of Sweet Baby Ray’s-caliber sugar sauce. That’s hardly a fitting tribute to barbecue, which may well be the greatest American contribution to world cuisine. As for the “pizza” part, it’s an Austenian “truth universally acknowledged” that as one strays further from the holy trinity of sauce/cheese/crust, one strays further from whatever passes for god in pizza form. It’s almost as if the creators of the barbecue chicken pizza combed the vastness of the multiverse to find the most un-pizza, un-barbecue thing that could possibly contain the words “barbecue” and “pizza” in its name.

And yet you wouldn’t be alone if you thought I’m being way harsh on the barbecue chicken pizza as a concept in and of itself. People love that garbage. They indiscriminately order it from fast casual chains and from fancy pants hipster pizza parlors that serve pies with raw egg on them. They douse it in ranch dressing and feed it to their children as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. It may simply be the case that people are drawn to the sheer incongruity of the thing, but it may also be the case that this abomination somehow creates an entity far greater in concept and execution than one could ever guess by measuring only the sum of its parts.

(On a side note, I’ve recently learned there is a restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa that conceptually combines pizza with American-style Chinese food and tiki drinks in those cool mugs that look like Easter Island mo’ai — I’m low key planning a field trip to find out if crab rangoon pizza is anything other than exactly what it sounds like, the only problem being I would need to go to Iowa to get the answer and that’s a pretty big ask.)

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