Scott Adams will never be content just to be the creator of long-running comic strip Dilbert. No, he must also be a presence in popular culture responsible for ground-breaking missives like “the patriarchy doesn’t exist because I pay for dinner with women”; “Californians tried to kill me for liking Trump”; and, tying it all together, “people who don’t agree with me simply can’t read properly.” Sometimes, these contributions are formalized into stuff like books that turn a wild series of blog posts into a physical volume (with a Trump-haired Dogbert on the cover) or describe how “untrained brains are ruining America” in a process the genius Adams dubs “loserthink.”
None of his official forays into the wider marketplace, though, are quite as mystifying as the short-lived Dilberito, a food designed to fulfill a pre-Soylent vision of replacing normal person food with carefully designed, vitamin-packed meal replacements.
While most of the world was happy to let the Dilberito dissolve into the past, a tweet from @premiumponcho has forced the ill-conceived, cartoon-branded frozen food tube back into modern discourse. Having been made to reckon with the image of Dilbert waving his arms in front of a product description yelling “Introducing the Mexican DILBERITO” at us, we knew this sudden psychic ailment could only be soothed by trying to understand the dimensions of the beast itself.
Fortunately, the Dilberito’s existence, unlike most other deadly cryptids, is well documented. A CNN article from 2001 describes the “sober and utilitarian” food item (available in Mexican, Indian, barbecue, and garlic and herb flavors!) as being “a tortilla-wrapped comestible consisting of vegetables, rice, beans, and seasonings that contains all of the 23 vitamins and minerals that nutritionists say are essential.” It was created in partnership with “food-industry consultant Jack Parker”, apparently, because Adams wanted vegetarian food that was easy to eat, and was sold through “Scott Adams Foods Inc.” from 1999 until 2003.
A New York Times piece published near the Dilberito’s launch has even more information. Through it, we learn that the product was “the first fast-food nutraceutical,” a description referring to the fact that its inclusion of so many “healthful ingredients” makes the creation “a vitamin pill wrapped in a tortilla.” Adams is quoted as calling the Dilberito “cubicle cuisine” while the article’s author says they “could have been designed only by a food technologist or by someone who eats lunch without much thought to taste.”
The Wikipedia page for the Dilberito provides even more soggy, half-thawed tidbits, like Adams’ apparent inspiration to help solve diet-caused “health related problems” while “[making] some money at the same time,” his description of the supposedly broadly-appealing item as “the blue jeans of food,” and, after its total, multi-million dollar failure, him saying the product’s “mineral fortification was hard to disguise.”
“Because of the veggie and legume content,” Adams notes here. “Three bites of the Dilberito made you fart so hard your intestines formed a tail.”
Still, it’s not all bad. Not only did the burrito’s failure cost Adams a bunch of money, but it also gave us a Flash game, available on the official Dilberito website, that’s won by helping Dilbert eat only the healthy foods falling from the top of the screen. It ends when a vibrant Dilbert gets to dance on the grave of the player’s enemy, who died from not eating Dilberitos.
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