All Sauces Are Special

A too-close look at fast-food ingredients, and other ephemera

Published November 22, 2023

Citation needed

Modern Crochet, Dance Now, Boredom Weekly, and Frown Digest are some of the fine publications read during work hours by what many-armed “SpongeBob” character? Squidward

(We already featured this in last week’s Write My Round, but a good SpongeBob question always deserves a second look, I says – Ed.)

What fan wikis perhaps lack in reliability, they make up in thoroughness: the Marvel wiki alone has more than 300,000 articles. These wonders of human effort remain a worthwhile corner of the internet, comprising an Alexandrian catalog of information… you know,, if Alexandria were really into video games and sci-fi. I always try to not lean too much on fan wikis for fact-checking, but I’ve also learned to not underestimate the accuracy of thousands of dedicated and passionate nerds. Trust me, I see your emails.

The Encyclopedia Spongebobia is not quite as robust as the top echelon of wikis, but it’s pushing a very respectable 15,000 articles, including a list of media featured on the show. So I’m pleased to report that other Squidward periodicals include Boring Science, House Fancy, Interpretive Dance Quarterly, and Lamps.

Rabbit holes

Who fits the following criteria? Olympic champions. Dancing With the Stars champions. Authors of books about figure-skating pigs. Kristi Yamaguchi

Tough question, especially given that this is a program I have not thought about since crowd-size expert Sean Spicer landed on the show in 2019. Elimination is decided by a combination of panel score and audience vote, so Spicer made it all the way to sixth out of 12, owing much more to a stupid culture battle than any dancing skill. (At least barely-pre-full-on-white-supremacist Tucker Carlson was the first one eliminated back in season 3.)

Wikipedia’s full list of DWTS contestants is worth a scroll. Across 32 seasons, the show has featured 26 Olympic medalists, 24 NFL players, 10 romantic hopefuls from the Bachelorverse, two-fifths of the combined members of ‘NSync and Backstreet Boys, three Jersey Shore cast members, two Good Morning America meteorologists, both of the Spice Girls’ Mels, one octogenarian astronaut, one Texas governor (yes, it’s Rick Perry), and one actress who was already in something with “Dancing” in the title.

Ah, I get it: There’s an official “Magnetic” remix of what Paula Abdul song that was probably the career peak for MC Skat Kat? Opposites Attract

The word “probably” is probably unnecessary here: A year after “Opposites,” the rapping feline returned with the LP The Adventures Of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob, once described by the AV Club as the “least essential” album of the ‘90s. (Judge for yourself: It’s on Spotify.) The lead single, “Skat Strut” couldn’t even bubble past #80 on the Billboard Hot 100… though it apparently saw much greater success in Scandinavia.

What fits the following criteria? Ingredients in a standard Big Mac. Ingredients in a standard KFC Double Down. Ingredients in a standard Taco Bell Mexican Pizza. CHEESE

I have made an extremely helpful Venn diagram in case you ever find yourself in a fast food emergency wherein you must distinguish between these three items because the Hamburglar has taken hostages at the combination KFC/Taco Bell. Always be prepared!

Pedantic predicaments

Which is by far the largest: The number of keys on a Steinway grand piano, the number of keys on a MacBook Pro, or the number of islands in the Florida Keys? Florida Keys

Along with fact-checking, I’m also a host. When I said that MacBooks have 80 keys, one quizzer asked: What about the Touch Bar? This is probably a question Apple doesn’t care for: As of October, the company officially will not sell you a laptop with the Touch Bar, that much-maligned replacement for function keys that was introduced on MacBook models in the very dark year of 2016.

Anyway, the note in the initial version said that MacBook Pros have around 65 keys, which clashed with my count of around 80 on my partner’s MacBook Air. And then I realized: Whoever wrote that question was probably simply looking down at their own (slightly older) keyboard, just as I was. So I was thrilled to let that quizzer know that, indeed, we’re finally living in the Touch Bar-less world we’ve always deserved, and it’s 80 now.

Regardless of all that, the answer is unambiguously Florida Keys, of which there are more than 800. You’d need 10 laptops (or nine pianos) to compete. But hey, sometimes fact-checking isn’t about validating your correct answer. Sometimes it’s about precisely quantifying exactly how wrong your wrong answer is. 

At least it’s not 12 laptops.

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.