Bête noire: The detestable nom nom nom

Before proceeding a pace down this road, I should clarify that while I detest the expression nom nom nom in all of its ridiculous and cringe-inducing variations, I do not harbor any ill will towards those who use it. This caveat is especially important given the fact that almost all of my encounters with the expression are via friends or family on social media. Love you guys! Now back to the rant.

If you haven’t encountered nom nom nom, or om nom nom, or some other variant, here’s the primary usage. You post a picture of some allegedly delicious looking food on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, and you caption it something like, “homemade pale-friendly avocado chicken salad with pinenuts, nom nom nom.” The implication is the chicken salad is either so good, or you are so hungry for it, that you will devour it with the mindless gusto of the Cookie Monster, from whom this phrase derives. That’s the pre-rehabilitated Cookie Monster, by the way.

So what’s the problem? First, while the words are meant to sound cute and charming, the image they inevitably generate is of a blue hairy monster jamming fistfuls of crumbling cookie into his face with an addict’s abandon. We’re friends. I care about you. I don’t want to see you like that. Especially not with chicken salad.

The second problem is the sound itself. It sounds and looks like baby talk. Babies can get away with speaking baby talk because they have very big eyes and a few other attributes that in combination make this vernacular inoffensive and occasionally even cute. Parents, while advised against baby talk, also get a pass – if speaking to babies. The rest of the world? There is simply never a time when baby talk is cute. Stop it.

Expressing rampant gusto for a savory dish – no matter how expertly photographed with your new camera phone (look how sharp and detailed these low light pictures of chicken skin look) – in a weird baby-talk sounding, Cookie Monster-derived onomatopoeia, is a step too far. Take your pictures – if you must – we all do it (though I wonder how much any of you really cared about my Moroccan pork chops a few weeks ago). But consider a new caption. Maybe revive Jim Carry’s “yuuumy.” On second thought, let’s leave that buried, where it belongs, with nom nom nom next to it.





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