I Ate Justin Bieber's Favorite Foods In Honor Of His Birthday

Photo: Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock.
Justin Bieber rose to fame in the late 2000's, when he was still a baby-faced tween, and I was a slightly-less-baby-faced college student. I was immune to his puppy dog charms, and generally regarded him with indifference.
That is, until the release of his 2015 album, Purpose. I suddenly found myself a late-blooming Belieber (as did, apparently, a bunch of 20-something dudes who liked EDM). Suddenly, the shaggy-haired crooner of "One Less Lonely Girl" was a still-pretty-baby-faced but also really-tattooed kind-of-adult. It was confusing and exhilarating, a feeling I imagine bro-liebers felt as they jammed out to "What Do You Mean" while pounding jägerbombs.
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As I played catchup learning about the man responsible for the near-constant earworm of "Sorry" looping in my head, I discovered that literally everything he does is noteworthy. The minutiae of his life, from what he likes to eat for breakfast all the way to what he would eat for his last meal, are all available online. And, especially when you look at the foods he loves, a pattern starts to emerge. Put succinctly, the guy doesn't have fancy tastes. Or, really, for that matter, the tastes of an adult. Could I get better insight to who he was by eating his favorite foods? In honor of his 23rd birthday, I tried to find out.
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Soooo happy

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Tim Horton's

For the uninitiated, Tim Horton's is basically the Dunkin' Donuts of Canada (a statement that I'm sure will get me hate mail from fans of both restaurants). It's a well-known fact that Justin Bieber likes Tim Horton's, because every time he visits, it's a national incident.

But does he really like Tim Horton's? Way back in the early days of his Instagram account, he occasionally would celebrate his love, but, aside from visiting, he's been fairly mute on the issue in recent years. Is visiting Tim Horton's kind of a patriotic duty? Does he actually like it, or does he know that, in order to stay in favor with his fellow countrymen, he must tithe and drink their frozen coffee drinks while there? I sought a stateside Tim Horton's of my own to find out.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
On my way to work one morning, I made a pitstop in Penn Station. Basically the opposite of all things Canadian (nice, maple-soaked, covered by universal healthcare), Penn Station is a failure of 1960s urban design. A dark, confusing, mostly underground maze of trains, subways, and human misery, it's also the location of one of Manhattan's two Tim Horton's.

I bought a coffee and their signature TimBits, which are doughnut holes but far punier. I'm not a fancy coffee drinks person (black coffee just seems like the quickest way to pour, consume, and caffeinate), but I enjoyed my cup. The TimBits, of which I got an assortment, were surprisingly soft and fresh-tasting. I imagine that if, I, too, grew up in the frozen lands of Canada, I'd feel similarly devoted to Tim Horton's wares. Because nothing says "home" like the fast food products you can only get there.
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Next, it was time for a real breakfast, and it's pretty easy to figure out what, at least according to the internet, that would be. Cereal! Justin Bieber loves cereal! How do we know this? He once tweeted that he liked it. He was once photographed holding a box of Cap'n Crunch. He once Instagrammed a truly unsettling video of him laughing and eating a bowl of it, too.

The evidence seemed pretty irrefutable, so I poured myself a bowl of Crunch Berries and dug in.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
I hadn't had Cap'n Crunch in two decades, easily, and was shocked by how good it was. It reminded me of the heady days of early elementary school, where my mom was so desperate to get us out the door and fed in time for school she'd indulge our demands for sugary cereals. It still sliced up the roof of my mouth, but the slightly styrofoamy-y, sweet morsels certainly blew my normal green smoothie or overnight oats out of the water.
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Spaghetti Bolognese

Justin Bieber has proclaimed his love of spaghetti bolognese as recently as March of last year, making it a pretty indisputable bit of Bieber canon. What is it that he loves so much about it? Does he even know?

He loves it so much that he even once ate it before a show with milk, a combo that proved toxic enough to make him later barf on stage.

The idea of a cold glass of milk served with anything besides fresh cookies truly disgusted me to my core, but, nevertheless, I poured a big cup and got to eating. Spaghetti bolognese is a classic, but washed down with dairy? Why?!
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
There is something childlike about drinking milk with your meal. I hated milk growing up, and I always remember the tentative sips of milk I would take at friend's houses when their parents each gave us giant glasses at dinner. These days, my relationship with all things lactose can be best described as "it's complicated," so the idea of now swigging down milk with a meat sauce was even more repulsive.

Afterwards, I felt like I was going to barf, and I didn't even have to serenade an auditorium full of people with "One Less Lonely Girl."
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Sour Patch Kids

When you're famous, your fans want to constantly give you things you love, even if you are perfectly capable of acquiring it yourself. I imagine this is the celebrity equivalent of how my friends tag me in Facebook videos about unlikely animal friendships.

Of course, no one has ever thrown a chimpanzee holding a kitten at my head, which is (sort of) what happened to Justin Bieber when a fan turned a box of Sour Patch kids into a projectile at his head.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
No one at work volunteered to throw Sour Patch kids at me, so I just ate them normally, like a non-famous person. Like always, they provided that nearly-adrenaline-inducing rush of sour, followed by sweet. It was hard to eat just one... or two.... or 10.

A coworker spied my snacking and asked to try one, since she hadn't had them in ten years. After biting down, she emitted a blissful sigh, said "This was just what I needed," and left for home.

I was beginning to observe a pattern in Bieber's favorite foods: a kind of comforting sameness and familiarity, a lot of childhood favorites. Is it because he rocketed to the public eye at such a young age, freezing some of his quirks and preferences? Is it because he travels so frequently, the sometimes bland familiarity of the commercially-available and mass-produced is a comfort? Does he just really, really like refined sugars and milk?

It was time for my last (and greatest) challenge — dinner at T.G.I. Friday's. Would I finally know then?
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T.G.I. Friday's

In a tell-all with Oprah on such light topics as fame and loneliness, we also learned that Bieber's favorite restaurant is non other than T.G.I. Friday's. At least one person I relayed this information to was skeptical: Maybe, she said, he was just saying this to be relatable to his fans. To which I said, you don't lie to Oprah.

Remember the Million Little Pieces guy? Do you remember anything he's done in the past ten years?

Exactly.

It was time to go to Friday's and see what I could learn.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Like Cap'n Crunch and big glasses of milk, Friday's is inexorably linked to my childhood. Descending into the Financial District's underground location, I felt like I was traveling back in time: the antique signs, brass banisters, and faux-Tiffany stained glass was all there. As was the appetizer platter that I blame for my lifelong love affair with mozzarella sticks: a combo platter of wings, potato skins, and fried cheese.

Here, sadly, my nostalgia failed to live up to the experience. Both the wings and the mozzarella sticks had been retooled in the last 10 or so years, The cheese filling on the sticks tasted like a cheese blend and lacked the pleasant snap of truly good mozzarella sticks. The buffalo wings were now boneless. It was disorienting, like viewing my childhood through a kaleidoscope or watching someone talk upside down.

As a kid, my go-to order was two hotdogs, one order of fries (always a budding gourmand!), but, since I was neither offered a kid's menu or able to bring myself to ask for one, I opted for a burger. Biting down on it, I was suddenly awash with memories of every chain restaurant burger I ate in my youth. Maybe it was just the flavor of well-done, over-seared beef, but I suddenly flashed back to some 15 years of eating burgers and fries. But, rather than the rush of nostalgia that I felt when eating a bowl of sugary cereal, I mostly felt defeated. This was not a good trip down memory lane, it was a sad reminder of how often I ate mostly tasteless food because it was comfortable and readily available. If I had stopped trying new foods at 18, my favorite meals would probably look a lot like Justin Bieber's, too. And I'm so glad they don't.

As to any lofty conclusions about what it all means for Bieber that he loves these food? After Friday's, I was bloated with sodium but no wisdom. I had followed the tidbits of information like so many breadcrumbs through the forest and only gotten more lost. I'm mostly impressed that his preferred diet of simple sugars leaves him with the energy to perform world tours. But I also suspect that, given his ability to reinvent himself, he could be enjoying a Michelin-starred restaurant meal of foie gras and caviar for his birthday. In which case, I am sure his fans won't be lobbing those foods at him anytime soon.
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