1. Anthony Bourdain vs. Paula Deen
Bourdain got people to pay attention to him. Paula Deen got a ton of drug money and also lost 30 lbs.
2. Park Slope Food Co-Op vs. Israeli Hummus
A little background: There is an infamously self-righteous grocery store in Brooklyn's yuppiest neighborhood called the Park Slope Food Co-op. In order to shop there you have to also volunteer to work there.
In March, the Park Slope Food Co-op Members for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (aka BDS) lobbied for the store to boycott Israeli hummus and other Israeli products (including SodaStream seltzer makers! Did you guys even know those were made in the Holy Land?). This was because they wanted to make a Big Statement, via hummus, against the Israeli government's anti-Palestinian actions. The boycott was opposed by a rival faction within the co-op called More Hummus, Please.
ALL OF THIS IS REAL AND REALLY HAPPENED. The Daily Show segment covering this epic showdown is really worth watching.
The boycott died a swift death when the co-op *voted not to vote* on the ban.
3. David Chang vs. Questlove
Hey remember that time when two famous guys' macho Twitter posturing turned into a hot and crispy IRL showdown? In March, Chang challenged The Roots drummer (who has his own line of chicken drumsticks — whatever, guys, I ate one and it was pretty good) to a poultry cook-off on live national TV.
WINNER: David Chang.
4. Eddie Huang vs. Marcus Samuelsson
Huang's takedown of Samuelsson's memoir Yes, Chef ("reads like it was ghost-written by Rudyard Kipling with an assist by Girls heroine Hannah Horvath") and the ensuing kerfuffle was definitely the best memoir-writing-chef–on–memoir-writing-chef beef this year (Huang's publishing a book too). Also the least surprising.
Hating on Marcus Samuelsson: not hard, because, like, THIS.
Getting Eddie Huang to talk shit about stuff: even less hard.
People seem to be about equally annoyed by each dude's antics? Huang's memoir comes out in January, so I guess we'll find out which book sells better next year. Personally, I'm team Eddie solely based on the short-lived and totally brilliant anthropological experiment that was all-you-can-drink Four Loko.
5. Chick-fil-A vs. Gay Rights
A large-scale uproar broke out this summer over Chick-fil-A's owners' long-time support of anti-gay marriage organizations. There was a "kiss-in"! A lot of people were inexcusably horrible on Twitter! Rick Santorum ate some chick-in-strips!
WINNER: Gay rights.
Chick-fil-A has announced that they will no longer fund anti-gay groups.
6. California vs. Foie Gras
Foie gras is controversial. Some people think it's delicious. Some people think it has its place but gets way overused. And some people think it's animal cruelty and should be illegal. And illegal is exactly what it is now in California, where a ban went into effect on July 1 that makes producing or selling the stuff a seriously finable offense.
7. Pumpkin vs. Bacon
So, pumpkin got really uppity for some reason and actually thought it could be the new bacon. Hahahahahahahahahaha.
People only care about pumpkins in October/November; pig parts are forever.
8. Monsanto vs. Proposition 37
If a single corporation spending over $7,000,000 to oppose legislation that will require labeling genetically modified foods isn't representative of American democracy, I don't know what is.
Prop 37 was defeated in the November election.
9. Guy Fieri vs. Pete Wells
Pete Wells went seriously viral and will be immortalized as the man who asked the question, "Is this how you roll in Flavor Town?" Guy Fieri's restaurant got a crap-ton of free press, and his fans still DGAF.
10. Slate vs. Grapefruit
Wait, since when is it OK for big-deal webzines to slander innocent citrus fruit? That's not classy, Slate. Fruit can't talk back. And to be honest with you, this whole thing smacks of exorcising some childhood trauma in which you were publicly humiliated for, like, taking an unsuspecting chomp out of an unpeeled grapefruit.
Honorable Mention: Spaniards vs. Spaniards
OK, this food fight happens every year, but it's always fantastic. About 40,000 people get together in a town in Spain to throw tomatoes at each other. It's called La Tomatina. There are portable showers set up so everyone can get squeaky clean when it's over. Apparently the streets are *cleaner* afterward because of all the acid in the tomato juice. I could keep going with the factoids, here. Everything about this is awesome.
Winner: Spain. Tomatoes. The world.