Heard of the 'girl dinner'? Forget it. Try the 'gamer dinner.'
It's the next viral food trend. (Fingers crossed.)
The fancy word for it used to be charcutier, a collection of cheeses and meats and bits and bobs artfully arranged on a plate or board. But right now, this is being called “girl dinner,” a social media phenomenon where “girls” (it’s a made-to-be-hashtag’d name, but it’s meant to be genderless) feast on homemade meals that do not require cooking, humble arrangements of fruits, veggies, olives, dips, cold cuts, and other easy to eat finger foods.
Girl dinner is creative adult Lunchables for people who don't have the time or energy or money to make elaborate Instagram-friendly repasts. It is a bona fide trend.
Well, I have the next big thing. I've always wanted to create a TikTok viral video but my problem is I'm lazy and I'd have to learn how to use TikTok. I know it's simple, but I'm an old dog befuddled by new tricks. (Can you help me with my Apple Watch?)
Instead I'm hoping I can write about “gamer dinner,” which is my spin on the so-called girl dinner craze. The gamer dinner is any meal eaten while playing a game or during a break. This is going to be the hot new trend because I know I'm not the only person who eats something similar to the gamer dinner.
The TikTok “girl dinner” tag has hundreds of millions of views, helped along by stories in the New York Times and Vogue. Brands are even getting in on it: you can order a “girl dinner” at Popeye's that consists of only sides. Over at GQ, the term “husband meal” is being pushed to describe what men supposedly eat when their partners are away, which is basically anything they ate when they were stereotypical bachelors—which includes, apparently, metric tons of cheesy pasta.
Gamer dinner is the same species as girl dinner, with a few notable exceptions. Both girl and gamer dinner don't require ovens or skillets or chopping, they are simple nourishment strategies.
Gamer dinners, however, serve a purpose beyond being easy to eat. They are fuel. You cannot fight the good fight if you are running on empty. Gamer dinners get you through a gaming marathon.
A girl dinner is apparently eaten slowly, leisurely while scrolling, or lounging. But gamer dinner is a means to an end, and unlike girl dinner or any traditional snack plate, gamer dinners must be designed to keep one’s fingers from getting sticky, or greasy, or coated in condiments.
Those are the two distinctions that make gamer dinner what it is: A meal eaten while gaming comprised of snacks that don't muck up your mitts with sauces or butter.
There are three tiers of foods that make up gamer dinner. First, there's any food that can be speared with a toothpick. This includes: Cheese cubes, gherkins, cherry tomatoes, or mini-meatballs. In some ways, gamer dinner also resembles wedding hors d’oeuvres, but only those that can be harpooned by toothpicks or cocktail swords—remember the goal here is to avoid foods that are potentially oily, because you can't blast demons efficiently with slippery fingers.
Other examples of gamer dinner food includes chicken satay, chicken souvlaki, or good, old-fashioned chicken skewers. Basically any food on a stick counts as a potential gamer dinner entree. This includes corndogs and popsicles and any kind of pop: Cake pops, cheesecake pops, waffle pops.
Next up: Chopsticks are the second most important gamer dinner utensil.
Eating snack foods with chopsticks is a beloved online fad that goes back years and counts celebrities like Oscar Isaac as adherents.
Chopsticks can be used to eat messy snacks like Cheetos easily, and without leaving orange fingerprints everywhere.
The very first chopsticks were used almost 2800 years ago, in 1200 BC, in China's Henan province. These popular tools have been used, consistently, ever since—and they're absolutely perfect for gamers who want to eat chicken tendies while gaming without getting honey mustard on their smashing thumb.
I'm not suggesting that gamer dinner is the pinnacle of chopstick use, but I am grateful for their invention, because I can use them to pick up buttery popcorn, kernel by kernel, while my fingers remain battle-ready.
The last category of foodstuffs fit for gamer dinner are foods with handles—either natural (like waxy banana peels) or things that come in sleeves (like GoGurt, the low-fat yogurt snack you can suck directly out of a colorful pouch while "on the go”). Other examples of this category include foods you can eat directly out of its wrapper, like a candy bar or a taco but this requires a little dexterity since there is the risk of chocolate or hot sauce splatter when handling a wrapped snack.
I would like to add that bread counts as a handle food, but only cold sandwiches are gamer dinner candidates since hot sandwiches are frequently sloppy—like a Philly cheesesteak or a meatball sub. But a good old-fashioned turkey and cheese sammich on white bread? Gamer dinner.
I reject the stereotype that gamers are exclusively fast food people, because while pizza is a portable food, it is also napkin food, and I, personally, don't want to waste time wiping my hands on my pants when I am on a mission. But, if pizza is the coal that burns inside your nerd furnace, I suggest eating bagel bites with chopsticks. But I'd also include carrot sticks as a good with a handle, but not a celery stick, which is naturally wet.
I want to eat tasty morsels that spare me any mess. I, and my snack-loving ego, would love to see examples of gamer dinners from fellow gamers, because I know they exist.
And I won't even obnoxiously take credit for this soon-to-be-fad, I'd just happily scroll hashtag “gamer dinner” on my favorite platform while eating Cool Ranch Doritos with chopsticks and whisper "Look, dad, I did it" to myself.
Thanks for reading the ABK Edit! Subscribe to receive posts like this straight to your inbox.
But wait, there’s more
👩🏾🍳 Looking to push your gamer snack game even further? Chef Sam Fore has a lot of handy tips, too.