Butchered a social media recipe? You are not alone

Food blogger using a smartphone to photograph breakfast Getty Images/Netrebina Elena
Food blogger using a smartphone to photograph breakfast Getty Images/Netrebina Elena
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I failed at trying to bake or cook over a dozen recipes I found on Instagram, so don't feel bad when you do the same.

In the 1993 classic film, “Philadelphia”, Tom Hanks asks Denzel Washington, “What do you call a thousand lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?”

“A good start.”

I love that joke, not just because lawyers work my nerves, but you can also swap it out with other professions like politicians, city workers, police officers and definitely, definitely, Instagram cooks.

Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent social media cooks and I have learned from so many people. The collective has taught me about mocktails, different granola blends and all kinds of cool hacks.

But too many times, the ingredients that these digital pedestrians recommend are too expensive, the videos are too short for you to see the process and oftentimes, they just don't work. On the first, third and 30th time, their little tricks and hacks like the vegan Snickers bar or healthy lemon tarts that come out tasting like the sole of a triple E wide New Balance walking sneaker never work.

My latest and biggest failure was homemade Fruit Roll ups.

For context, I should let you know that I love Fruit Roll Ups. I'm choosing Fruit Roll Ups over a steak dinner at a ten-star restaurant, if such a thing existed. I’m choosing Fruit Roll Ups over a free vacation to Hawaii, over world pae and even over a meeting with Jesus Christ. Okay, so maybe I don't love them that much, but you get what I'm saying.

As a child, when I opened a new box, I would immediately hide them so that the other kids in my house or at my grandma's house would not eat them all. To prove how much I loved them, I should tell you that they always wrapped around and got stuck in between and angered my big, crooked teeth. I had been instructed by so many people in my family, my parents, the dentist who we almost never saw and older kids with sore mouths riddled with cavities, to stay away from the sticky sheets of sweetness as nothing good comes from Fruit Roll Ups.

My simple response to all of this was, “More for me!”

This toxic relationship between me and the sticky candy would go on for years, until we had to break up. And yes, there is a sad story. I feel like there always is a sad story, and if I could skip this sad story, I would spare you, but then you would not understand the breakup.

As stated a few paragraphs up, I didn't go to the dentist much. I go three times a year now, but in my early 20s, I had a friend whose mom was hospitalized and died. And I don't want to go into all the details of the sicknesses she suffered from; however, the doctor had told him that many of her issues would have been resolved if she had simply visited a dentist once a year. Not even the two times they recommend, but once, and she would have been okay. She was terrified of the dentist as many of us are, so terrified that she allowed that fear to cause issues that many of us could not imagine.

I was shocked at the horrible outcome, but no, it didn't make me run to the dentist in that very moment. I did give up on the candy I knew I could live without and the number one culprit that I always found scraping off of my teeth was those damn Fruit Roll Ups.

So, imagine my surprise, when I was scrolling on Instagram and saw a guy saying that you can make natural Fruit Roll Ups from blending strawberries with lemon juice and then baking for a few hours.

The first error in his video is that he doesn't mention you have to boil those blended strawberries for about 10 minutes before you place them in the oven. But I will give him a pass on that because he does add that step to the instructions in the caption. My problem is that I blended, juiced, boiled and baked and the only thing I kept coming up with was inedible pieces of tart syrup. And no, I'm not claiming to be a master chef — maybe I was rushing the first time and maybe I wasn't focused enough the second time, but by the sixth time, and about six cups of wasted strawberries and three wasted lemons, I was ready to block that guy (but I didn't, because he has no idea who I am anyway).

I've also given myself some grace because this happens. It doesn't only happen to me, but to a lot of other people I know that are trying to be inspired in the kitchen, to find shortcuts, to have an elevated dining experience that they can control themselves.

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In this process, we all have to remember that the Tik Tok and Instagram cooks are extremely good at making content, so creative that they even made it onto your page. You don't necessarily have to be good at relationships or therapy to give online dating advice, you don't have to understand fashion to be an online stylist, so why can't you be a cook?

Remember that their goal is to monetize off of likes and shares, rather than make sure you get a product that is delicious as it is beautiful as it is easy to make. Imagine them as being car salesman, a used car salesman on a lot full of sparkling clean Mercedes that have no engines. To all of you, to all of us, I encourage you to not give up after being duped by some pseudo self-made digital cook with a large following.

Upon further investigation, I found out that if I simply went through the comments of the video, I would have seen the many holes in his recipe and even could have been directed to a page where someone actually pulled the trick off. Alas, I have no more interest in healthy Fruit Roll ups anymore as my desire has moved on.

But if you would like to follow some of these social media cooks, judge them by their comments. After all, I'm not saying that all of these cooks are bad, just that some of them are pathological liars and should be wiped from the Internet. Their comments normally tell the truth.