Top 5 finger hats in Chicago (and America)

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year-old daughter Viva, who would be happy to chase you around the dining room table with olive fingers until she either catches you or she gets in trouble.

My daughter Viva and I were walking by a Bugles snack display this week, and she, being a new reader, read the slogan on the display aloud: “America’s #1 Finger Hat.” She found this motto very funny, and I have to agree. Well played, Bugles. The Bugles people found something we’ve known to be true all our lives — that Bugles are to be worn on the fingers before being eaten — and wrapped their arms around it as a marketing ploy. Though it may drive parents nuts that their kids are getting their fingers extra greasy and making a show of having a snack, Bugles fitting on your fingers is a feature, not a bug.  

While Bugles are excellent finger hats, there is still a question here of truth in advertising … are Bugles truly America’s NUMBER ONE finger hat? America is a large place, and while this blogger lacks the polling prowess to find out definitively whether or not Bugles are America’s No. 1 Finger Hat, my informal polling has discovered what the most popular finger hats seem to be.* 

Take a look at the list below and tell me if you agree with the rankings, or if I’ve left off your favorite finger hats.  

No. 5 Bugles

Sorry, Bugles, I’m afraid I have to kick you down to “America’s No. 5 Finger Hat,” which doesn’t ring as sexy on a bag. Why 5? Well, for one, you were made by General Mills at their West Chicago plant since 1964, but in 2017 they shuttered the plant at the cost of about 500 jobs.** Bugles are also a little more fun to eat than they are tasty, although the Peanut Butter and Nacho varieties beat the original. Rumor is there’s a caramel variety, but as of press time this author has not tasted it. They are indeed a riot to eat, though, because they are long and pointy, and so wearing them on your fingers makes you feel like a German Expressionist vampire, which is the coolest kind of vampire to be when wearing snacks.

Bugles should also be given some props for keeping the notion of a “bugle” alive. Bugles, valveless trumpets with a strong martial association, don’t seem to play well in today’s more gentle society, and reveille is not a huge part of the public consciousness since we dropped the draft. Other than the snacks, bugles are rarely seen outside of depictions of Santa Claus, in which a bugle is always sticking out of the top of his sack, erroneously implying that any child has ever asked for a bugle for Christmas.*** Bugles (the instrument) probably took their cultural nosedive in 1917 when Irving Berlin attacked them in the lyric “Someday I’m going to murder the bugler” in the song “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” from the musical, “Yip, Yip, Yaphank.” America’s most beloved songwriter rarely came after anyone in a lyric (save perhaps the Germans), so buglers being on the receiving end of an Irving Berlin diss track did not speak well of their character.

Without Bugles snacks, we simply wouldn’t be having this deep dive discussion of bugles right now, and they would join the antiquated and unloved thimble in the dustbin of finger hats (and retired monopoly pieces).

No. 4 Gummi Rings

Speaking of Germans, most people love gummy**** anything, and one popular gummy form is the ring, which typically comes in peach flavor. Peach is an odd default flavor, and usually only comes up when discussing instant oatmeal, Bellinis,***** or these rubbery rings, but here we are. If you’re wondering why Ring Pops aren’t included on this list, I think the plastic mount is a disqualifier, as you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) eat it. There is now, however, a gummy Ring Pop made by Topps, in which you can eat the whole thing. If you thought the golden age of gummy shapes ended with the giant gummy rat, Props to Topps for continuing to find new frontiers in the gummy craft.

No. 3 Calamari

Alright, this is my dark horse entry, but as an Italian-American I feel beholden by heritage to promote squid meat finger hats. The ring-shaped calamari cross sections work well and the grilled head chunks work even better. You may of course be uncomfortable with the consumption of cephalopods, as studies of their cognitive abilities have suggested that they are too intelligent to eat. I’ll leave it between you and your culinary (and ethical) gods as to whether or not creatures that use tools, open mason jars, and are capable of observational learning should not be made into finger hats. It is difficult to argue their effectiveness as a finger hat, though.

No. 2 Raspberries

Thanks to Chicago Parent’s Keely Flynn for arguing that “the raspberry is the most cheerful finger hat.” They are cheerful, indeed. They do top out at number two for a couple reasons, the first being that they are stain-y, so letting your kids play with them is a harrowing proposition.***** Also, raspberries almost always taste terrible. There is THEORETICALLY something called a “ripe raspberry” which can be consumed by a creature other than a bird or bear, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had one. Hence the raspberry’s usual relegation to a sugary coulis pooling around a chocolate cake. They are definitely No. 1 on the list of America’s Most Sour Finger Hats.

No. 1 Olives

At actual No. 1: the olive. Green, Kalamata, but probably Black olives are not only America’s No. 1 Finger Hat, but the world’s No. 1, and your average Italian, Greek, Spaniard or Israeli will fight you over who really owns olives as a gustatory delight. Olives make your hands look commanding, cosmopolitan and delicious, and olives are extremely nutritious. A hand’s worth of black olives provide three grams of dietary fiber, almost half of a man’s daily iron needs; 1.7 mg of antioxidant vitamin E (a fifth of your daily need); and high amounts of heart-healthy fats. The salt will kill you, but not as fast as a Bugle.

I hope this list is of great assistance to you as your family weighs its options vis-à-vis digital chapeaus.

*These are Fingers HATS, as opposed to “finger foods” which is a massive category including all manner of canapés, tapas and tea sandwiches. All the blogging in the world could never discover America’s favorite finger FOOD, although I believe a recent Fox News poll says the answer is “Tide Pods.”

**I thought Trump was supposed to Make American Great Again, but his Bugle manufacturing numbers are neither soaring nor the best ever. Perhaps if he’d created Space Force sooner, we’d at least have interstellar soldiers to supply with finger hats.

*** Bugles in Santa’s sack are the baguettes-in-a-romantic-comedy-grocery-bag of toys.

****Germans invented gummystuff, and are also responsible for the grating dance track, “I’m a Gummi Bear (The Gummi Bear Song) by Gummibär, which makes is even more ironic that Germany is now the soft-power leaders of the free world.

****Bellinis are a Venetian-designed cocktail (popular at brunch) featuring peach puree and Prosecco. Replace the peach with strawberry and it’s called a Rossini. Replace the peach with pomegranate and it’s called a Tintoretto, and for this, the International Bartender’s Association should be deeply ashamed, because the obvious bel canto trifecta evoked here implies that the third variation should be called a Donizetti. I will NEVER be okay with this crime against nomenclature.

*****And if a murder is committed in your town, the police will see your fingers and make you a prime suspect. That rarely happens with calamari, although it can happen with Bugles if the police think you are a German Expressionist vampire.

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