Museum food is overpriced. And ballpark food and movie theatre food. So?

Cidu Bill on May 6th 2013


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Close to Home, John McPherson, comic strips, comics, humor | 37 responses so far

37 Responses to “Museum food is overpriced. And ballpark food and movie theatre food. So?”

  1. Ian Osmond May 6th 2013 at 12:05 pm 1

    I don’t know why you mark this with CIDU when your title proves that you understand whatever there is to understand about it.

    Sometimes, there just isn’t much there to understand in the first place.

  2. bekki May 6th 2013 at 12:42 pm 2

    Because they are in a museum, the food is antique and therefore more expensive.

  3. Cidu Bill May 6th 2013 at 01:01 pm 3

    Ian, just because it’s apparent what’s literally going on, that doesn’t mean I have any idea what the joke’s even supposed to be. The observation that museum cafeterias charge a lot of money for food is not itself funny.

  4. Ian Osmond May 6th 2013 at 02:02 pm 4

    Perhaps we need a “Comics Which I Probably Understand Perfectly Well But I Don’t Understand Why Anybody Ever Bothered Publishing Them Because They’re Just Not Worth It” tag?

  5. James Pollock May 6th 2013 at 02:03 pm 5

    There’s overpriced, and there’s $18/slice pizza and $41 tacos.

  6. Elyrest May 6th 2013 at 02:15 pm 6


    Just a wee long for a tag.

  7. Winter Wallaby May 6th 2013 at 02:44 pm 7

    Ian #4: At least for me, this is less “I get the joke, but I don’t think it’s funny,” and more “I see what’s happening, but I don’t understand how it’s a joke, because I don’t understand why anyone, including the cartoonist, would think this was funny.”

    If the comic showed someone eating a roast beef sandwich and saying “yum,” you could explain what was happening by saying “some people like roast beef,” but I still wouldn’t understand what was supposed to be funny about it.

  8. Judge Mental May 6th 2013 at 03:06 pm 8

    I actually think the intent was something different than “Museum food is overpriced in the manner of ballpark food and movie theater food”. There is a difference in “not funny” and “no joke” and if that was the explanation, there is no joke.

    I think McPherson was shooting for something along the lines of “museums are filled with rare, expensive items… including the food’. Not particular funny, but something different than a mere observation on actual events.

  9. Elyrest May 6th 2013 at 03:32 pm 9

    I think the joke might, just might, work if the menu board looked sufficiently antiquey and museamish. John McPherson’s style is minimalist/sloppy, but that switch might have carried the joke over.

  10. Elyrest May 6th 2013 at 03:35 pm 10

    Museumish. It might not be a word, but I still spelled it wrong.

  11. Bob May 6th 2013 at 04:06 pm 11

    I’m wondering if there’s a reason the caption says “Museum food” instead of “Museum cafeteria.” Maybe the cafeteria isn’t IN a museum, but is serving food FROM a museum. Or food that’s been on the shelf too long, but instead of throwing it out, they’re charging high prices and calling it “museum quality.”

    Or… noooo, I got nothing.

    Maybe this is McPherson’s answer to “Cow tools.”

  12. billybob May 6th 2013 at 04:53 pm 12

    Le Rêve $155 million, taco $41. Cultural comment?

  13. Mark in Boston May 6th 2013 at 05:23 pm 13

    Is there any significance that most of the prices are not round numbers, but numbers like $37 and $41?

  14. The Ploughman May 6th 2013 at 05:24 pm 14

    The art at a museum is expensive, but it isn’t generally for purchase (different than say a gallery or auction). Also the phrase “Museum food,” as far as I know, isn’t a term for anything other than food available at a museum cafeteria (exactly what’s depicted in the cartoon with an exaggeration on the prices). bekki (2)’s response seems to be the nearest joke at hand, but there’s nothing in the panel to confirm that’s where this was supposed to go. Baffling.

  15. Cidu Bill May 6th 2013 at 05:39 pm 15

    Yeah, what Winter (#7) said.

  16. Cidu Bill May 6th 2013 at 05:43 pm 16

    James, been to Yankee Stadium lately?

    The truth is, ovet the past year I’ve been to museums, ballparks, movie theatres, and the Jacob Javits Center during the Auto Show; and of the four, the museum food was the least ovetpriced.

  17. James Pollock May 6th 2013 at 05:52 pm 17

    “James, been to Yankee Stadium lately?”
    I live just under 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, so… no. In fact, we don’t even have minor-league baseball any more. On the other hand, we’re only a few years removed from the local land-grant university winning back-to-back college world series(es?), and their concessions are reasonably affordable.

  18. Mike May 6th 2013 at 05:53 pm 18

    Maybe the food is actually a form of contemporary shock/performance art intended to “epater le bourgeoisie” a la Duchamp’s “Fountain” or Serrano’s “Piss Christ”. The audience in this case certainly looks shocked. Well done, mr. artist!

  19. J-L May 6th 2013 at 06:09 pm 19

    Maybe this is a pot-shot aimed at museum gift shops, where it seems like normal items sell for considerably more than you’d expect. (Not everything, mind you, but quite a few items are that way.)

    Like a replica of the Rosetta Stone. I figured it would be fairly cheap since it was obviously mass-produced (there were several others), but one look at the price tag made me wonder if I was looking at the real thing.

  20. Cidu Bill May 6th 2013 at 06:40 pm 20

    Unless those college players had $100 million contracts, James, probably not the same thing.

    Even minor league ballparks aren’t anywhere near the majors when it comes to food and drink prices. which is why I go to minor league games every year and visit Yankee Stadium maybe once a decade.

  21. Mark M May 6th 2013 at 06:52 pm 21

    I’m not a big museum guy, but I thought the same as The Ploughman. “Museum food” is not a thing. You go to a ballpark, movie theater, or theme park to be entertained. Museums are not usually thought to be going after the same demographic, so the idea of emulating one of them is absurd.

    Cidu Bill, I live close to a minor league park that has 50 cent beer nights. So yeah, I agree.

  22. James Pollock May 6th 2013 at 07:15 pm 22

    “Unless those college players had $100 million contracts, James”
    They do now! (One of them plays for that other team north and east of yours.)

  23. Ian Osmond May 6th 2013 at 09:30 pm 23

    I’d note that the hamburgers at the cafeteria at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston are something like eight bucks. The other dining options are more expensive than that.

    I don’t know if it helps, but, yeah, that’s pretty much what the menu is at the MFA, that’s pretty much what the cafeteria looks like, and the prices are multiplied by maybe five or so. So it’s exaggerated for effect.

    Imagine if I came to you and said, “So, I got a burger at the MFA and it was like thirty-seven bucks.”

    It’s not VERY funny. It’s not a GREAT joke. But you’d get the point that I was saying that the MFA’s cafeteria was expensive. Actually, the burger is like eight bucks, not thirty-seven bucks, but thirty-seven is a funnier number than eight.

  24. Folly May 6th 2013 at 10:56 pm 24

    Is the woman saying “museum food” or is her mouth just open in shock?

  25. The Vicar May 7th 2013 at 12:06 am 25

    I think the cartoonist really did mean for us to say “yeah, those museums really overcharge, dur hur hur!”

    The idea that they museum is charging more because the food is really rare or good-looking isn’t conveyed at all by this. (Actually, if that idea had been used, it would have been a much better cartoon. Imagine if the people were in front of museum cases containing sandwiches and pizza, and there was a guard keeping watch, but there was still a menu on the wall and a station with cutlery. Would have been bizarre and still not exactly thigh-slapping, but about a million times funnier than this.)

  26. Kilby May 7th 2013 at 12:24 am 26

    As noted above, the cartoon is simply not funny, even if one assumes it was supposed to be an editorial.

    P.S. Not that I’d ever want to defend museum policies, but there are some obvious factors that lead to those outrageous prices. First, there’s the underlying cost of a square foot of restaurant space, which is much higher in a prime downtown neighborhood than in an outlying suburb. Second, museum restaurants have to survive within limited opening hours (normally no late evening dining), but still have to cover the same operating costs. And third, there is opportunistic greed: many museum visitors are probably carrying around more cash than the average resident. Only a foolish manager would ignore the chance to pick the pockets of those wealthy patrons. Those with less cash never come into consideration, they probably brought their own sandwiches, anyway.

  27. Proginoskes May 7th 2013 at 02:19 am 27

    @ Winter Wallaby: That would be tagged as ISWHBIDUHIAJBIDUWAITCWTTWF.

  28. Cidu Bill May 7th 2013 at 02:43 am 28

    The upside is, I’d have no problem getting the domain name.

  29. Ooten Aboot May 7th 2013 at 06:23 am 29

    A better joke might be that museum food may be past its “sell by” date (or here in Canada, its “best before” date). Once at the Art Gallery of Ontario I had a late (3:00 pm) lunch and foolishly chose the chili, which apparently had been whipped up by Diego Rivera and kept warm ever since. Ruined my weekend.

  30. mitch4 May 7th 2013 at 08:33 am 30

    Yeah, when I first saw this panel I had exactly the same “so what?” reaction, even while understanding the point that concession prices will be inflated at any venue with a captive audience.

    But I like the small but helpful tweak (offered several times above) about an almost-pun on the food being treated as precious and hence like a museum-piece, and this being maybe intentional on the sign. That would dfferentiate it from what would go over at, say, a ballpark.

  31. Bob May 7th 2013 at 11:20 am 31

    “Museum food” may not be a thing, but tacking an adjective like “museum” onto a product and charging more for it is a thing. Ever visit The Museum Store?

  32. Boise Ed May 7th 2013 at 12:44 pm 32

    I’d think of this as more of an editorial cartoon than a comic.

  33. Lola May 7th 2013 at 07:21 pm 33

    The Philadelphia Art Museum has an actual restaurant and the food is excellent and not at all expensive for what it is. They have a snack bar too and the prices are the same as a convenience store. They also have Friday night concerts and serve wine in the main hall. Been to them many times and I’d recommend the experience to anyone who’s never been. On the other hand, the convention center has outrageous prices for horrible stuff that can barely be called food without prepending it with pig.

  34. Mark in Boston May 7th 2013 at 09:44 pm 34

    The last time I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s cafeteria was a LONG time ago, but it wasn’t really all that much of a cafeteria. Do they still put foods that rhyme into the same bin at the salad bar, like peas and cheese?

  35. Susan T-O May 8th 2013 at 08:51 am 35

    Am I the only one who expected the pie to be $3.14? But then I guess that would be math food.

  36. Laffy Taffy May 9th 2013 at 04:31 am 36

    Ian #37 is right — it’s funny because it’s exaggerated. Reminds me of this joke:

    Did you hear about the guy who ripped off $235 from a movie theater? Took a large popcorn and a combo meal.

  37. Meryl A May 10th 2013 at 01:10 am 37

    Let us not forget that not all museums are art museums. Food served in places where one has little or no choice is grossly expensive.

    We go to a expo center in NJ for a quilt show and woodworking show annually. We bring lunch as what is available is ridiculously priced (I think close to $4 for a hot dog), limited to the point where I cannot find anything I can eat, and you can almost see through the turkey sandwich there is so little turkey and it is smushed into the packing so much. We also go to an expo center in PA for a quilt show annually with the same problems (although they also have a small buffet for lunch). This expo center says that one is not permitted to bring in food, but I have never been questioned and will use medical reasons if they did. We have not been to a quilt show at a hotel in Hershey, PA for a few years. They had a nice, passably reasonable menu the first year, but then it changed. We figure that if we go this year we will go out to the parking lot (more conveniently located than the others) and eat lunch in our RV.

    When we go somewhere else we try to eat lunch before we get there. (We rarely get anywhere in the morning.)

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