An Onion story has been cited as fact in, of all places, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.
Originally published in 2004, the Onion article announces the discovery of a children’s menu on the back of the original copy of the U.S. Constitution. A menu that the authors of “Compatibility of Menus to Children’s Needs in Selected Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya,” which appeared in the journal Food Science and Quality Management, carefully considered before interpreting to mean that “the original framers…probably intended that serving food to children be a way to distract them while the elders created a system of representative national government.”
I am going to take my chance discovery as a sign from the universe that I am done with my research for the day and can in good grace take leave of the library. I leave you with the Onion illustration, which the paper includes as an appendix, and the scholars’ annotations:
The menu features two columns of fancifully named items, such as Yankee Doodle Macaroni, Johnnycakes, and Eagle fingers. It also included; Bloody Great Blood Pudding, Cheese betwixt Two Slices of Bread and Mother Goose. The use of such terms may have been an amusing means to encourage children to eat their food. Additionally, the menu also had a ‘Pleasant Diversions’ section that included a man with a wooden leg evidently coloured in blue by a child and the earliest known example of a word find containing the names of revolutionary war-era battleships…(Lipscomb-Blaine 2004).
P.S. Since spending about twelve minutes rolling around on the library floor in the death throes of asphyxiation-by-absurdity, I have come to realize that the three hapless co-authors of this paper are affiliated with Moi University in Nairobi, Kenya, a market The Onion has presumably yet to penetrate. I feel a little bad for these guys, but not that bad, and would like to know more about the “peers” charged with “review.”
Update: A reader wrote in to alert me to the problem of open-source scam journals–what is known as “predatory publishing”. These pseudo-journals will publish anyone who pays. It’s “predatory” because often the authors themselves do not know at the time of submission that the publication is illegitimate, or that they’ll shortly be receiving a bill. Having laughed at these guys for the better part of an afternoon, I now feel really sad that they were taken advantage of. As we say in Cantonese, “Aiyahhh.”