10 Food Tattoos
Food looks just as good in ink
By Eric Slatkin
1. Weiner Time. Rhode Island native Liam Gray was inspired to get his tattoo by his favorite local hot dog place, Olneyville N.Y. System. It uses natural casings filled with beef and veal, served with onions, mustard, meat sauce, and celery salt. The text, “Guilty of Being Delicious,” is based on a Minor Threat song, “Guilty of Being White.” Photo by Liam Gray.
2. Sweet Nothings. “I’m seeing cupcake tattoos everywhere now,” says Ajax, Ontario, resident Amanda Tanos, who got hers four years ago, before the trend really took off, she says. She has more than 20 tattoos, almost all sweets-inspired, including a candy bracelet, two ring pops, a gingerbread man, gummi bears, and a banana split. Photo by Amanda Tanos.
3. Mexican Marketing Magic. The marketing wizards at Casa Sanchez, a San Francisco taqueria, had the idea in the 1990s to give away free lunch for life to anyone who got a tattoo of their logo, Jimmy the Corn Man. Ten years later, owner Martha Sanchez says two or three people a week come in sporting their ink for a burrito, including Guido Brenner (pictured), who says he doesn’t even have to show his tattoo anymore. He usually drops the price of his meal into the tip jar, though. Photo by Eric Slatkin.
4. Truffle Hunt. Jeremy Esterly, a sous-chef at Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, wanted to get a tattoo that was more outlandish than one he has of a pig. He decided on a crazed truffle slicer chasing down a truffle. He says his next tattoo will be horror flick–/cheese-inspired, and it’s tentatively titled: “Chainsaw Velveeta Zombies from Planet X.” Photo by Jeremy Esterly.
5. Never Enough Pork. Esterly and our Offal Obsessive aren’t the only ones with pig tattoos. North Carolina–based Chowhound ChowMC, a.k.a. Mark Carroll, got a traditional block print of a butcher’s chart corresponding to the cuts of the pig on his arm. Carroll collects antique cleavers and has also started a Flickr set dedicated to food-related tattoos. Photo by Mark Carroll.
6. Vegan Fantasy. Atlanta tattoo artist Russ Abbott created this produce sleeve for vegan Ben P. They spent hours arranging the fruits and vegetables on a light table. Ben says even grandmas in the checkout line get a kick out of it—though his plans for a clove of garlic in his armpit might not get the same reactions. Photo by Russ Abbott.
7. A Diet Tool. Tattoo artist Annie Mess from Austin, Texas, put a new spin on knuckle tattoos when she inked hers with her favorite fruits and veggies. Ms. Mess thinks food tattoos are getting bigger not only because food’s become cool, but also because it’s a good way to keep your indulgences in check—she has a cupcake on her hand, which reminds her not to eat them too often. Photo by Annie Mess.
8. Alternative Mom. Mark Popovich recently walked into American Beauty Tattoo in Orange County, California, with a request for more than a run-of-the-mill “Mom” tattoo. After discussing his mother’s interests, the shop designed this nearly ready peach pie (her favorite) in an antique oven. Photo by Mark Popovich.
9. Achilles Heel. Nathan Kostechko, in Santa Barbara, did this tattoo for a vegan friend, who admitted that once every year she can’t resist eating a hamburger. Photo by Nathan Kostechko.
10. Born on the Bayou. Mike Davis at Everlasting Tattoo in San Francisco created this tattoo for an avid Cajun cook in Kansas City. When asked if the cook was religious, he said, “No. I think the guy was a bit of a heathen.” Photo by Mike Davis.
CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.