Recession Special from the Greenwich Village Gray’s Papaya, 2002
Our courier will bring you two hot dogs and a “banana daiquiri” drink whose taste is scarcely even related to banana. It won’t be spoiled; he picked it up from 2002 five minutes ago, then jumped into his time-traveling Chevrolet Impala.
When you were a Gray’s Papaya regular, you never worried about what was in the meat or the drink. All that mattered was: it was open at 1am, and you could afford it. You were so carefree. All happiness requires self-delusion. Let us help you delude yourself.
Pesto Slice from Viva Herbal Pizzeria, 2007
The East Village doesn’t feel the way it did when you were younger and more hopeful… unless you order this blast from the past. Then it all comes flooding back. You thought you’d sell a screenplay for the union minimum and buy an apartment within a couple of years. You’re unlikely to save enough money to own a place if you keep ordering in. Wait, can you use the wormhole to go buy an apartment at a lower price, with the money you have now? No! Did you bother to read our FAQ? This service is for food delivery only! For ethical reasons!
Sundae from Emack & Bolio’s, 2003
Emack & Bolio’s is where you watched your friend Sam eat an entire six-scoop sundae in one sitting. As noted in our user agreement, calories and fat from Timeless orders do count, so please consider that when you’re calculating the cost and benefit of this purchase. Don’t forget to tip your delivery person, who had to wear a lot of layers to prevent severe injury traveling through the wormhole.
Plain Pizza from John’s of Bleecker Street, 1998
The way your neurons fired the first time you bit into a slice out of the John’s coal oven, it was as if you’d never had pizza before. The chewy crust, salty cheese, and sweet, tangy sauce hit you with such force that, even today, you can see every detail of the wooden booth around you. It was so exciting to come to the city, pull a free copy of the Village Voice out of the box on the sidewalk, and buy used CDs at Disc-O-Rama that you couldn’t find in the suburbs. The world was full of possibilities. Back then, you found it funny when your grandpa uncorked his monologue about how “Years ago, everything tasted better. Chocolate was chocolate. Whiskey was whiskey. When you’re old, everything is gray.” Now, you’re afraid you’re starting to get it. Are you unable to enjoy things you once loved? Find out when we bring that original 1998 John’s pizza to your door.
Cheese Quesadilla from Cosmic Cantina, 2000
Remember when your college roommate Dave was so desperate for acceptance that, even though he hated alcohol, he took a sip of sangria… and then—through gritted teeth, his face a mask of disgust and misery—said “it’s good” like he was going to fool anybody? Dave, there’s nothing wrong with not liking the taste of alcohol. We don’t like it either. We can’t bring you 2000 Dave. If we did, there’s a serious risk he might conspire with 2021 Dave to change the past and wreak havoc on our present. We can, however, bring you a quesadilla that will remind you of 2000 Dave.
A Mostly Picked-Over Rat Bone from the Side of the Road, 2052
Right now, tiny shards of raw meat clinging to a rat bone—the rest already having been eaten by other hopeless foragers on a post-apocalyptic landscape—might not appeal to you. But, several decades hence, it will be the best you can do, allowing you to survive a bit longer in an existence that has become driven by moment-to-moment considerations. If you can do anything at all to prevent pain, to live another second, that will represent success. The idea that you ever planned a future or sought security will seem absurd to you. Oh, yes, in theory you could always understand that you were lucky, that the conditions permitting you to live comfortably were precarious; but you could never truly understand this type of desperation without experiencing its terrifying immediacy for yourself. Order this picked-over rat bone from the side of the road in 2052 to prepare for the nightmare of your future.
Soft Taco Supreme from Taco Bell Cantina, picked up in 2021 but Eaten in 1999
Please don’t bribe your delivery person to hand his phone to your 1999 self so he can use the app in 1999 to order food from your present (his future), 2021. Doing so will cause time to fold over on itself, ending the world and violating our terms of service. This action is irreversible, and even this very listicle won’t reach its
Jonathan Zeller is a writer, editor and comedian who’s contributed to McSweeney’s, The New York Times, and Teen Vogue.