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I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

That’s because I know what’s coming. I’m about to eat everything on Denny’s Solo: A Star Wars menu. That’s four entrées, plus a milkshake. We’re talking eggs, a burger, a skillet with hash browns slathered in Gouda cheese sauce, and pancakes with freaking Pop Rocks in them. Just typing these words I can feel my arteries congealing. Performing this monumental feat in one sitting would be more difficult that making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.

So why try? What am I, a B'omarr monk? I don’t have all the answers. All I know is when a table service diner-style restaurant decides to unveil an entire menu based around a movie, I, a married adult man with two small children, have to eat all of it for some reason. At the very least, it will give me some insight into what it feels like to be a mentally and physically abused street urchin who must do anything to survive on the cutthroat world of Corellia. (Granted, Corellian street urchins like the young Han Solo probably didn’t eat this much food in an entire week, much less one meal. I will admit it’s not a perfect metaphor. Cut me some slack; in anticipation of this engorgement I’ve been fasting since Saturday.)

Previously, I have done battle with the tie-in food from Kong: Skull IslandX-Men: ApocalypseIndependence Day: Resurgence, The Divergent Series, Allegiant, and Fantastic FourNow it is time for Solo.

Denny’s is one of the true pioneers of the movie tie-in menu. Their insane food items for The Hobbit (Honey Cake French Toast! Smaug’s Fire Burger! Bard’s Pumpkin Pie Milk Shake!) broke new culinary ground. Their Fantastic Four menu actually encouraged people to ingest something called “Thing sauce.” (Other than the mild case of blindness it gave me, it wasn’t bad!) They’re like Dr. Frankenstein, only instead of stitching rotting corpses together, they do that with breakfast foods. And now they’ve taken their mad-scientist approach and applied it to Star Wars.

For your reference, here is Denny’s full Solo menu. To set the mood, maybe listen to the Imperial March while you read it:

Two moons? In this economy?

What does any of this have to do with Solo? Will parts of my body blast fire after I eat the Blaster Fire Burger? Did they really put freaking Pop Rocks in pancakes? Over the course of the next several hours, I will attempt to answer these questions, and eat as much of this food as I can without dying. You might think this is an impossible task. To you, I say: Never tell me the odds.

As you’re reading this I am just sitting down to my first course (of five!) at a Denny’s in Queens, New York. Keep refreshing this post throughout the day, to chart my descent into a food-related Mustafar of my own making. Make sure follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where we’ll be sharing photos, videos, and assorted other updates.

COURSE #1

I can’t believe they didn’t call these “Chewy Chewie Pancakes.” What a missed opportunity.

Instead, I began today’s festivities with the “Co-Reactor Pancakes,” the pancakes with freaking Pop Rocks in them. Right off the bat, I’m confused; I’m not sure what a “co-reactor” is. I presume that’s what powers the Millennium Falcon, but I can’t find any examples of the word co-reactor on Google in a context that don’t involve Denny’s. So I guess Denny’s is just inventing Star Wars continuity now? Someone ask Pablo Hidalgo about this.

The plot of Solo does involve a lot of chasing after these very important blue doodads which are the fuel for spaceships like the Falcon, and these doodads are highly explosive. Seems like that should have been the theme here; “Hyperfuel Pancakes” with blue raspberry Pop Rocks that pop when you eat them. Alas, Denny’s went a slightly different route.

Here’s how the pancakes are described on the menu:

Two buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce and whipped cram, plus a side of Crystal Crunch Rocks and a pitcher of warm citrus sauce to pour over your pancakes to make them go pop.

And here’s what it looked like in front of me:

I attempted to get the Pop Rocks to pop. It went about as well as Han Solo’s attempt to escape Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters...

I have a hunch my Pop Rocks were a little old. (Can Pop Rocks expire? I probably should have figured that out before I ate them anyway.) They didn't pop on contact with the citrus sauce (which had a nice zing nonetheless), and they didn’t pop in my mouth either, except for one random bite which was pretty hilarious. Otherwise, these were totally acceptable pancakes. As they should be; Denny’s hasn’t been in business for 65 years because they don’t know how to make pancakes. I’m not sure I approve of their attempts to introduce breakfast-related technology into the Star Wars canon, but I’m not going to get too worked up over it.

How could I? I still have three more courses to eat. Punch it, Chewie.

COURSE #2

For some reason, my waiter was not amused when I loudly declared “Prepare for the jump to lightspeed! One Lightspeed Slam please!”

Yes, now that I’ve got my co-reactor humming (or, uh, making other noises) it’s time for superluminal travel with the Lightspeed Slam. Here is how it is described on the menu:

Our Fit Slam includes egg whites scrambled together with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes plus two turkey bacon strips, an English muffin, and seasonal fruit.

And here is how it looked in front of me.

Obviously, the name is a play on this being a “light” option on the Solo menu, which notes that this dish has less than 15 grams of fat and 550 calories. This is a great responsible choice for breakfast, assuming you don’t eat it with three other entrées and a milkshake like a moron.

But there may be some other theming connections too. As someone on Twitter noted, the lower English Muffin half looks a little like the Millennium Falcon, which definitely can’t be a coincidence. Plus remove the cup of fresh fruit, and the whole plate does sort of look like some strange alien dish that might have been served to Han Solo in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Come to think of it: Why the heck isn’t Denny’s serving blue milk with their Solo menu? That’s an actual in-continuity Star Wars food, one I’m sure many dorks (myself included) would actually be interested in tasting. Pop Rocks pancakes have no basis in the Star Wars movies (unless I’m forgetting the details of that Attack of the Clones scene where Obi-Wan goes to that space diner and talks to Dexter Jettster). Where’s the blue milk?

It’s not here, unfortunately. But there is a skillet dish with Gouda cheese sauce. May the Force be with me...

COURSE #3

[Pushes up glasses] Ahem, the famous dual celestial bodies in Star Wars are the two suns of Tatooine. Not two moons. Therefore this Two Moons Skillet does not make sense, and I refuse to eat it on the grounds that it breaks the menu theming.

Whoops! Sorry, all this food is giving me an extreme case of nerd. Anyway, here is how the Two Moons Skillet is described on the menu.

Diced ham, fresh spinach, sauteed mushrooms and hash browns. Topped with Gouda cheese sauce, Cheddar cheese and two eggs.

And here’s how it looked in person:

It came out of the kitchen sizzling, like a monstrous pile of breakfast fajitas. And ... it’s actually kind of delicious? (Hold on one second, I’m looking online to see if you can get Stockholm Syndrome from food.)

Seriously, this is good; easily the best thing I’ve eaten from the menu so far. The description is definitely the least appetizing of the bunch, but in practice it works. The hash browns are nicely cooked, and there’s just the right amount of Gouda sauce; it’s tasty but not drowning the dish. Plus the spinach allows me to fool my body into thinking this is good for me. It’s a win all around.

One of my favorite parts of eating these theme menus besides the Flatliners-esque sensation of getting as close as humanly possible to death without actually dying is people on Twitter chiming in with their own jokes about my self-inflicted torture. And the world of Star Wars has provided a lot of fodder for tweets. Here are some of my favorites so far.

I’m officially in the home stretch. If this was a Star Wars movie, this would be the point in the story where the heroes think they’re home free, only to discover their triumph was a false victory, and the Empire is closing in on their position. In my case, the Empire is a giant burger with Ghost Pepper sauce.

COURSE #4

People are asking how I’m doing, so here’s a selfie that I think tells the story:

Lucasfilm

My sloth-like physique is now consuming the final course of the Solo menu, the “Blaster Fire Burger.” Here’s the official menu description:

Chipotle Gouda cheese, bacon, and spicy Ghost Pepper sauce top a hand-pressed 100% beef patty. Served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun and with wavy-cut French fries.

And here’s how it looked:

I’ve already made a joke about fire blasting from my body, but I really do question the decision-making process that selected that name. I get it; it’s a spicy burger. And there certainly is a lot of blaster fire in Solo. They even reveal how Han Solo got his famous blaster in the movie. (The explanation is maybe the least interesting prequel revelation in the history of uninteresting Star Wars prequel revelations, which is really saying something.) Regardless, what’s the opposite of making your mouth water? That’s what the phrase “blaster fire burger” does to me.

Can I pretend to be a food critic for a second? Why are people intent on putting incredibly spicy stuff on burgers these days? I love spicy food, but the Ghost Pepper Sauce on this thing is just unnecessary. A bacon cheeseburger is already perfect; you can’t really improve on it. Spicy cheese and spicy sauce (and this sauce is spicy; like someone blended tomato sauce with jalapeños) can only distract from the main attraction. It’s like if Leonardo Da Vinci had looked at the finished Mona Lisa and was like “Hm ... maybe if I put a ghost pepper in her hand people would like it more.”

That said, maybe the extraneous sauce makes the Blaster Fire Burger the perfect Solo tie-in food. After all, what is Solo but an attempt to improve upon the perfection of the original Star Wars trilogy by adding in fancy new special effects and needless backstory? Plus, Solo is the product of two different productions; one led by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and one by Ron Howard. The halves don’t necessarily fit together comfortably, sort of like a big splat of Ghost Pepper sauce in the middle of an otherwise tasty cheeseburger.  If the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels had popped up in Solo, that really would have tied the whole thing up in a nice bow.

On the plus side, my mouth is now on (blaster) fire, so while I’m not exactly looking forward to eating a Star Wars-themed milkshake, at least it will cool off my tongue.

FINAL COURSE

You know that scene at the end of Return of the Jedi after Lando blows up the second Death Star and all the Force Ghosts are standing around smiling at Luke? That’s me now, except I’m a little boba fatter than the rest of the group. I’ve crossed over to the other side, a beautiful land of peace, tranquility, and absolutely no Ghost Pepper sauce.

I tried listening to some Rocky music to pump myself up for this last course, but then “Burning Heart” came on and it just reminded me of my heartburn, so I had to turn it off. Matt Eats The Solo Menu: A Star Wars Story concludes with a Crystal Crunch Milkshake. Here is the menu description:

Activate your taste buds by adding a side of Crystal Crunch Rocks to your favorite milk shake flavor.

And here it is:

Don’t ask me why, but the Pop Rocks in the milkshake were poppier than the ones in the pancakes earlier. (Maybe the cooking process de-pops them? I need a scientist to help me with this.)

This is a totally solid vanilla milkshake, plus at the end of sips you get this little popping sensation on your tongue as the Pop Rocks do their thing. It’s not the best milkshake of my life, but very respectable. If I hadn’t eaten four meals in one sitting and my arm wasn’t throbbing uncontrollably, I definitely would have finished the extra milkshake in the metal cup. (Full as I was, I still drained the glass.)

So I did it. I ate everything on the Denny’s menu (minus the fries that came with the Blaster Fire Burger; they were soggy). What have I learned? First of all, that the government should definitely make people take mental health tests before they have children. That’s number one. Second, nobody touches Denny’s movie food innovations. They could still do better (get on the blue milk for Episode IX, guys) but they’re the Dryden Vos of their weird niche. They do it better than anyone else in the business.

More importantly, my perch in a Denny’s in Queens (where, by the way, they have free wifi, power outlets for your laptop, and a staff that won’t even blink twice when you order four meals in a row) has given me an excellent vantage point on the intersection between cinema and merchandising. I ate all the food on the Solo menu, but there were several items I didn’t get. I didn’t buy the trading cards (collect all 12!) or one of the take-home cups with a big Millennium Falcon on the top.

There’s no piece of Star Wars, in other words, that you can’t own if you’re willing to pay enough. The movies themselves are often fun (and occasionally even better than fun) but they are also an excuse to expand the footprint of Star Wars in the marketplace. Nobody needs to know how Han Solo got his blaster, but it gives Disney and Lucasfilm the chance to sell you more Han Solo stuff. (And for Denny’s to shove freaking Pop Rocks in pancakes.)

The smartest scene Mel Brooks ever wrote was this one from Spaceballs:

I’m not trying to tell you boycott Star Wars merchandise, or even to not eat Solo food at Denny’s (although I am trying to tell you not to eat as much as I did). I’m just suggesting we keep these motivations in mind. Nothing in Star Wars happens by accident. There is always an unseen Force guiding every action. And it has nothing to do with midi-chlorians.

So until the next time a restaurant chain creates a movie tie-in menu, I leave you with the most important message I’ve ever learned from Star Wars: Live long and prosper. Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go take a 36-hour nap.

Gallery - Star Wars Easter Eggs in Non-Star Wars Movies and Shows: