Fake news: Chicken wings don't count as "food" if you're a bar hoping to serve alcohol, says Cuomo

Fake news: Chicken wings don't count as "food" if you're a bar hoping to serve alcohol, says Cuomo

It’s bad enough that this guy purged a not insignificant percentage of New York’s nursing-home population with his terrible COVID policies.

Now he has to start sh*t with wings fans too?

Before we get into this, let’s reflect on the fact that a major state’s coronavirus policy now partly depends on whether certain finger foods count as “food” or not.

It’s an unusually absurd variation on an increasingly common theme, that America has lost the plot. Eventually John Roberts will have to legally define “crudités” for the masses.

Why is he talking about this in the first place, you ask? Well, spooked by the surge of cases in Texas and Florida driven by young dopes who insisted on going out to bars, Cuomo has issued a new rule in New York to reduce the incentive for said dopes to congregate and mingle. He hasn’t closed the bars down, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had to do to try to limit the spread after Texas’s cases took off. Rather, he’s said, if establishments want to serve booze, they have to serve food with it. Twentysomethings can’t stroll in at midnight on a Saturday night to do shots, shouting in each other’s faces as they get hammered and spread the virus around. He’s going to make that expensive for them in order to deter them. If they order booze, they have to pay for food as well.

New York’s bars immediately and predictably responded to that rule by setting up “menus” composed of dishes like “a handful of potato chips” or “half a carrot,” all for $1 each. Cuomo couldn’t allow that; it would amount to a mere dollar surcharge on booze bills and would defeat the purpose of his new rule. So yesterday he was stuck having to explain, absurdly, what would count as a minimal amount of “food” to be served with each drink. New York’s State Liquor Authority had to issue extensive guidelines about the matter.

Now you’re thinking, “Why didn’t he just skip the food taxonomy and set some sort of minimum food expenditure per each drink instead?” I.e. you need to spend eight dollars on chow for each serving of booze you consume. If the point here is to discourage prolonged mingling while getting drunk, making prolonged mingling while getting drunk prohibitively expensive is the way to go. Doesn’t matter what they eat or whether they eat. It’s the cost that matters.

And now you’re thinking, “Why don’t they just require all bars to serve people outside, where it’s safer? No more indoor drinking.” The problem, I think, is that many young dopes will hang around milling about in crowds for hours right in front of the bar so that they can get refills on their drinks. The risk is smaller out there than it is inside the bar, but if you’re packed close together and you’re shouting in each other’s faces without masks on, it ain’t zero. There’ll be some spread.

Essentially, Cuomo’s solution was to impose a new sin tax in the form of mandatory finger-food purchases on all alcohol. Which brings us to the momentous question: Do wings count? It sounds from the clip like they don’t, which is outrageous (particularly for a state in which Buffalo is located):

“When he got those executive powers, his brain fried and he became like a king,” said one Republican state assemblyman of Cuomo. But wait. Did Cuomo really exclude wings or did his comments in the clip just come out wrong? From the state guidelines:

Q: I operate a restaurant or bar, and I understand that I must serve sandwiches, soups, or “other foods” when a patron orders an alcoholic beverage, can you tell me what constitutes “other foods?”

A: “Other foods” are foods which are similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups; for example, salads, wings, or hotdogs would be of that quality and substance; however, a bag of chips bowl of nuts, or candy alone are not.

Wings are food. Cuomo’s spokesman further clarified what he said in the clip:

When he said “more than hors d’oeuvres” in the clip, it was apparently just an interjection while he was listing permissible food. Which actually makes sense under his policy. A plate of wings will run you more than a dollar or two so having to purchase it serves Cuomo’s goal of deterring binge drinking and the mingling that goes with it. Like I say, even half a carrot should satisfy him so long as the bar is charging nine bucks for it or whatever. And what if you’re a bar owner who didn’t actually serve food at your establishment in the Before Times? Well, then, you’re SOL, my man: “To fulfill Cuomo’s requirements, they must now pour extra money into food supplies and manpower in a time when few people have any extra money to speak of.”

Anyway. It’s a good thing the NYPD doesn’t have anything better to do with its time.

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