Reverse Engineering the Funyun

When Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson died earlier this month, barely a year after the other co-creator Gary Gygax passed away, I knew I had to write something. Over thirty-five years ago, when Gygax and Arneson created the game that would become known as Dungeons & Dragons, no publisher would touch it. So, instead, long before zines were cool and the DIY ethic had a name, the two decided to turn that bitch out themselves, and within the first year, sold all one-thousand hand-assembled copies from their first print run.

Reverse Engineering the Funyun

Within only a few years, D&D would become iconic for a whole generation of marginalized geeks.  By the early 80s, the game was popular enough to attract the ire of concerned parents and the nascent religious right, who claimed without evidence that the game was harming the youth. Eventually, actual sociological research (Imagine that!) would vindicate gamers, finding that teen gamers suffered no measurable harm from the game and in a number of measures were actually better adjusted socially than their non-gaming peers. In the meantime, though, the controversy did manage to produce a spectacularly shitty Tom Hanks film

Anyway, a session of D&D can easily go on for hours, during which time significant quantities of crappy snack foods are often consumed. And for some reason, the phrase “Funyuns and Mountain Dew” has become a common shorthand for gamers’ eating habits. So, in tribute to Gygax and Arneson, here’s my effort to make something at home that vaguely resembles the iconic geek snackfood. I wasn’t able to get the texture quite crispy enough, but after the fold is the formula for my first attempt. Perhaps you food fans can improve on it.

1 cup corn flour
¼ cup soy flour
2 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt

1 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp corn oil

1 tbsp granulated onion
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt

Oil for deep frying

Add the apple cider vinegar to the soy milk and let it sit while it curdles. Meanwhile, combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the curdled soy milk and the corn oil. You’re going to be pushing this stuff out of a pastry bag, so adjust as necessary if yours is too thick or too thin.

Meanwhile, heat your oil in a deepfryer or heavy weight pan. While that’s heating, load your mix into a pastry bag with a round tip. Once the oil is hot enough to sizzle when you drop in a bit of the dough, take your pastry bag and pipe circles into the hot oil. It’ll probably take a few attempts before you start producing decent rings, but the trick is firm steady pressure.

When they’re golden brown, scoop ’em out with a fork or slotted spoon, drop them on some paper towels to soak up the extra grease. When they’re all done, throw them in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the onion, garlic, and salt, and toss them around a bit to coat.

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12 Responses to “Reverse Engineering the Funyun”

  1. Wow. I think you might be my new hero. This weekend, I will be making vegan funyuns and breaking out the dice.

  2. i don’t know what a funyun is, but those look pretty damn good to me.
    ox
    kittee

  3. spectacular. simply spectacular.

  4. This post is great.

  5. Wow. I never had Funyuns but this I must try.

  6. Never knew what Funyuns were but now I am MAD curious, especially since it’s so tied to D&D culture! They sound salty-sweet good!

  7. hoveringdog Says:

    Let me know if any of you work the kinks out of the texture problem. Apparently, some of the generic versions, like OnYums are accidentally vegan. They should have an almost styrofoamy texture, which my version very much does not. The ingredients I used are only slightly modified from the ingredient list, so it must be the ratios and the cooking method. Let me know if anyone manages to improve on them…

  8. slodki Says:

    maybe if you used some sort of carbonated liquid in lieu of the milk/acv combo the texture would be lighter… or you could aerate the liquid in one of those whip cream canisters you buy at the kitchen store that takes c02?

  9. This was a fabulous article. Dangit, I need to stay up with your stuff. !!!

  10. thanks for sharing…gonna try this tomorrow.. 🙂

  11. hoveringdog Says:

    It was very experimental and the texture definitely wasn’t right. I’m pretty sure they use some wondrous industrial technology to make them so airy. But the taste is somewhat accurate.

  12. Hello, FoodandWine.com/FWx would like to feature your “Reverse Engineering the Funyun” in a blog post today. Please email me if interested, Jenn.Rinchey@timeinc.com. Thanks!

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