This is part of The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016, where I try to write 500 words every day. See the May 1st post for full details.

Today, I watched a blindfolded man eat and critique Chicago’s two most popular Italian beef sandwiches.

Why did I do this?

A simple explanation is that I was bored. My browser was already open to YouTube, and this video appeared in my recommendations.

That’s an okay explanation, but I’m not satisfied with it. Why did I choose to watch YouTube instead of opening a Steam game? Why did I click on that video instead of any of the other YouTube recommendations? When I reflect on my decisions, I always assume there’s a reason behind my behavior. This is true even if I don’t know why I did something. In that case, it just means my subconscious influenced me in a certain way, and it’s up to me to puzzle out the pieces.

Let’s consider a few explanations that might have played into my decision.

The Novelty Explanation

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I’d guess most people don’t spend their time watching blindfolded food critics eat sandwiches. Just a hunch.

That makes this video special. How often have I seen blindfolded taste testing? Not very often. From an exploration-exploitation perspective, that places a ton of value of watching it once. Maybe I’m actually a huge fan of blindfolded taste-testing. I have to watch to make sure.

However, by that logic I should be watching every video on YouTube, because I haven’t seen anything quite like it yet. This explanation doesn’t accurately incorporate my prior beliefs. Yes, novelty played a role in my decision, but I must have already had a prior belief that this specific blindfolded taste testing video would be worth watching.

Luckily, it’s easier to explain where that belief came from.

The Nostalgia Explanation

This video isn’t of any food critic, it’s of Alton Brown, host of Good Eats. I used to watch Good Eats as a kid, because

  • It taught the science behind cooking in a way that a kid could understand
  • I got to watch someone cook delicious food.

Nostalgia is a very powerful force. My past enjoyment from watching Good Eats must have made me interested in watching more Alton Brown videos.

This satisfies my curiosity by enough, but for completeness let’s add one more detail.

The Celebrity Explanation

I’ve watched some of Alton Brown’s videos in the past. See Grilled Grilled Cheese and Champagne Saber Time.

Again, these are entertaining videos. And that’s the key. Alton Brown is, at heart, an entertainer. He’s a celebrity in the food world. I don’t want to get into stardom theory, because my memory of it is fairly hazy, but you could call me a fan of his. The natural instinct of fandom is to watch everything related to the fandom, and thus, Alton Brown YouTube videos.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve never been to Chicago, and have no opinions on Italian beef sandwiches. If Alton Brown is giving a review, I’m going to find it interesting, because I trust his work to be good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry. Time to head to a sandwich place.