Meet Christian Lander, 31, a white guy from Toronto, Canada, who was out to entertain his buddies when he launched the satirical website Stuff White People Like in January 2008. If you can get past the joke, his site is both wildly funny and wildly popular. Since then, the comedic social experiment has garnered more than 70,709,521 hits, he’s penned a wildly successful book, and he’s gotten a day job as a writer at MTV. Besides being a comedic writer, Lander is also a foodie, which is evident from the fact that of the 133 items on his list of things white people like, a full 13.5% of them are edible. The number one item, in fact, is coffee. Here’s what Lander has to say about the foods white people such as himself like:
Babble: What is an ideal meal for a white person?
Lander: You have to remember that an ideal meal has to be a rare treat. So you can’t say Japanese food in Los Angeles. The ideal meal is to have a dinner party at your house that ruins parties for all your friends because they can’t top it. If you’re going to go out, it has to be a celebrity chef meal or a restaurant that’s difficult to get a reservation in.
Babble: How do you handle any criticism about your site being racist?
Lander: Look at my photo. I’m a Canadian with 31 years of being white as experience. It’s the same type of any racial humor. When people say my stuff is about upper-middle class, over-educated white people I don’t know how to answer that because they’re right.
Babble: Why is hummus on the list but pesto is not?
Lander: The problem with pesto is that people are a little concerned when they see the fat content on it. And most white people aren’t going to use it beyond pasta or on a sandwich. Also, have you seen the price of pine nuts lately? It’s not a thing you want every single day, price-wise or application-wise.
Babble: Are all white people into food?
Lander: People just assume that all white people are foodies. You have to be a foodie. What else are we going to believe in, religion? Those days are gone. After 30, the energy you used to put into indie bands you put into food. We’re not going to concerts anymore, but we’re going to restaurants. You’re never going to be the oldest guy in the restaurant.
Babble: How did you get into food?
Lander: My mom was born in the U.K. and her parents had that post-War British palate and she hated it. When she was raising me and my brother, she made sure that we literally tried everything, every type of food, and we grew up learning to love food. As a kid, I’d eat anything. It was her prerogative, she wanted to make sure we did that because of the way she grew up.
Babble: So why is coffee the number one thing on the list of Stuff White People Like?
Lander: Most of that came from a high school experience. You know white people don’t like coffee in high school, but they force themselves to like it and that sets a trend for the rest of their lives. It’s an opportunity to be snobby about something as well, and that’s important. You think about coffee and you think about college towns and dates. The role coffee plays in culture is through the roof. We’re all snobby about it.
Babble: What’s your favorite food on the list of Stuff White People Like?
Lander: I love “expensive sandwiches” so much. I have a theory that anytime you’re hungry, all you really want is a sandwich. I still can’t fully figure out why it’s something that everyone is drawn to. My favorite sandwich in the world is a grilled cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy in Borough Market in London. Recently I had a grilled cheese and egg sandwich at The Breslin in New York. It was $18 and it was amazing. I have a picture of it on my phone.
Babble: Do you think white people like to take pictures of their food?
Lander: Oh yeah. My wife has a whole flickr page devoted to all of our food. I love it, man, it’s just a reminder of all the good food I’ve eaten and all the good food I can eat again.
Babble: How do you decide on the foods white people like for your list?
Lander: Like the saying goes, I can’t define it but I know it when I see it. From day one I knew it wasn’t going to last forever and I never expected it to; the only intention I ever had was to make my friends laugh. As long as they still say it’s funny, they’re the people I trust most.