Let’s brainstorm this one.
You’re walking alone through an empty parking lot towards a strip mall silhouetted by the hot California sun. The parking lot is wide, so wide it’s difficult to tell where the lot ends and the street begins. Maybe there is no street, maybe this strip mall exists on the far edge of town, planted like a seed one day in a weed-choked field and finally sprouted. You look to your left, there’s a nail salon with a single, stoop-shouldered man lingering at the door; you look to your right, there’s a desiccated toy store, its window brimming with plastic knick knacks painted in faded neon. In the middle of the strip mall, directly in front of you, is an Arby’s.
You don’t know how long you’ve been wandering through this parking lot. You thought it was empty, but no, there are a few cars parked here and there, one a rusting hulk somewhere at the edge of the horizon, one a beaten-up 1973 Ford Pinto. Was that the car that drove you here? You don’t remember owning a Pinto. And yet time seems to be passing. Time is always passing. How long have you been walking through this parking lot? You’re hungry. You need to eat.
Surely you cannot eat at the nail salon.
Surely you cannot eat at the decaying toy store.
You sidle up to the window, stomach growling, the sun setting low behind the strip mall, and you see, yes, you see before you, this:
Ocean Meat. Dare you savor the exotic mystery that is this food product? What have you got to lose? For have you not always been wandering, famished, through this broken parking lot, pursued by a 1973 Ford Pinto?
The phrase evokes the salty aroma of a world you once knew, one fragrant with the roll and thunder of life.
Yes, you’ve seen the ocean. A long time ago. So long ago the memory is as light as the wing of a butterfly, fluttering at the edge of your dreams.
Do you not crave the bounty of the sea? You get down on your knees and thank the nameless gods that glide through the midnight depths of the abyss. You must take this sacrament, now, before the sun sets, or else you will be trapped in this strip mall forever…
And Now for Some Context
According to Arby’s Twitter account, the international sandwich chain has been hawking “Ocean Meat” since at least January 2015. It should be noted that the phrase is not the actual menu item – that’ s just what they write in the ads.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) January 6, 2015
True, we don’t often market burgers as “Land Meat,” or Bald Eagle filets as “Sky Meat,” but Arby’s seems stuck on its “WE HAVE THE MEATS” slogan, and who am I to deny them that creative flourish.
And while Deadspin has offered some scintillating theories as to what Arby’s “Ocean Meat” consists of, a company spokesperson has informed The Huffington Post that the sandwich is sourced from “wild and sustainably caught Alaskan Pollock.”
I suppose I can’t blame them. Somehow, “Alaskan Pollock Sandwich” does sound less appetizing than “Ocean Meat.” But according to Sea Food Health Facts, Alaskan Pollock “has consistently been one of the top five seafood species consumed in the U.S.” and is entirely wild caught. A “mild-flavored white fish with a delicate and flaky texture,” the pollock has no ostensible connections to Cthulhu, Dagon or Nyarlathotep, the crawling chaos.
So chow down, America.