Guacamole, but no brown M&Ms

Guacamole

Grammy-winning musician Jack White has recently been in the news for something other than his music. The University of Oklahoma's student newspaper published a copy of his band's tour rider, which included some very specific food requests. The rider went so far as to dictate the recipe for the guacamole that was expected backstage.

This specificity isn't new, according to Yahoo! Food's Jeff O'Heir. He explains that the riders are just one perk of being a rock star. Some performers have notoriously detailed tour riders; the most well-known is probably Van Halen's 1983 rider which included in a "munchies" section: "M&M's (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)."

You might think that these demands reflect the vanity and self-importance that comes with stardom. That may be partially true, but the riders aren't just about the stars' idiosyncrasies. Jack White's management explained in a statement that "Jack doesn't write the rider nor make demands about his favorite snacks that must be in his dressing room. We're not even sure he likes guacamole but we do know that the folks who work hard to put on the show do enjoy it."

Performers also note that they use these requests to make sure people are doing their jobs. Van Halen, for instance, "insists the M&M's directive had more to do with making sure the tour promoters were paying attention to every detail-from snacks to security to ticket sales-and less to do with rock-n-roll privilege."

When director Jon Paley heard about the Van Halen story, he began to research tour riders,  which led to an online video series called "No Brown M&M's." The short videos detail the food requested by performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Britney Spears. Perhaps the healthiest tour rider belongs to the late Lou Reed, who required "a plate of blueberries, cherries, and cantaloupe. He also wanted walnuts, almonds, egg whites, radishes, hummus, and local, organic whitefish. Nothing containing sugar was allowed."

Contrast this to Frank Sinatra's requests: "one bottle Stoli, one bottle Jack Daniels, one bottle Courvoisier, one bottle Chivas, one bottle Beefeater Gin, three cans of Campbell's chicken with rice soup, one carton of Camels, and 12 boxes of Luden's cough drops." We expect there were plenty of people around to help him with all of those bottles.

Photo of Classic guacamole from Fine Cooking Magazine

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