Cosmic Horror Restaurant Menus

Doc and I made a Twitter bot here.

For months now, Doc has been obsessed with the idea of making a twitter bot that posts menu items with a mix of actual restaurant items and cosmic horror. The idea being to have something in a familiar format (menu item and description) mashed up with something so incongruous that the results would be hilarious or terrifying.

I had already written a Markov chain generator script for my Lessons of Vivec Generator and Steeny Ipsum jokes, so I said we should just use the script I had already written and modify the output a bit for Twitter. Just a tiny bit of tweaking, and using the Ruby gem t and a cron job, we could have the bot up and running lickety split. Unfortunately, I kept putting it off forever, until I suppose we had the long holiday break which finally gave me the motivation (and free time) to make this thing.

And so, I finally did it! While I was tweaking the script for the bot, Doc went off in search of content to feed it (which mostly consists of endless online menus and a bunch of Lovecraft text). And I must say, some of the results were pretty spectacular. While I was still tweaking things and generating countless menu items in terminal, we were just cracking up at the weirdness that came out. Some of my all-time favorite food item names it came up with were:

  • Nyarlahotep Mashed Potatoes that Ended Arbys
  • Lord of Sleep Spicy Chicken
  • The Unnamable Chicken on Fire
  • Chicken Sandwich Astaroth Zombie Burger

And here are some of the Tweets that I thought were really funny:

I mean, those are pretty fantastic. Future plans for the bot include scanning the generated title for various food keywords (“burger,” “shake,” “chicken,” etc) and uploading a random photo alongside the menu description which has been similarly tagged. Additionally I’ve been continuously futzing with the price and calorie generators to achieve maximum laughs and to generate an output more in-line with Doc’s goals for the bot. So, it will probably continue to evolve in ways both subtle and major for the foreseeable future.

For example, many of the early Tweets simply have a pseudorandom number between $1 – $60 (as per Doc’s request) as a price. This was funny, but when almost all of these “fast food items” were being listed for more than $12, it was getting tiresome. So we decided to make it, still possible to generate something that costs up to $60, but that the prices would be much more likely to fall within the $1-$12 range. I fiddled with that a bit, and now it seems like the prices are much more realistic and therefore more funny (to us). And also, now it is possible for menu items to be between $0.01 and $1.00 which I think should also be funny.

Oh and Doc drew a diner-chef-inspired picture of an Elder Thing holding a sandwich for the Twitter title image, and it is absolutely adorable and hilarious.

Author: Steen

Steen is a nerdy biologist who spends a lot of time trying to cultivate Chloroflexi, who also likes to draw comics, play video games, and climb.

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