What is the virtue of a Dino Nugget? I listened to an interview earlier this week with Scott Friedman, whose family invented Dino Buddies, which is the dominant Canadian brand of Dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget.
The interview ventured into territory of the inherent value of such an invention (besides it making money off of parents all across North America). Dino nuggets are easy to criticize, and those criticisms are largely fair – they’re very processed, they are part of an unsustainable food system, they tend to be high in sodium, they disconnect kids from where their food comes from.
But all those things are true of non-novelty shaped chicken nuggets as well. So why the judgment on novelty shapes? Chicken doesn’t come in oval shapes either, that’s not any more natural than a dinosaur shape. But yet we have no problem with an adult ordering a chicken nugget meal from a fast food restaurant, but would never imagine adults buying dinosaur chicken nuggets at the store.
We as adults tend to turn our nose up at Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets specifically because they are dinosaur-shaped. Because we got taught somewhere along the way that things that are “fun” are inherently lower quality.
Why do we think if something is important, it must be joyless? We think if we take our nutrition seriously, or take our kids nutrition seriously, we could never eat something as silly as a dinosaur-shaped chicken nugget. There is plenty of marketing of nutrition-oriented super food smoothies and supplements in my social media feed, with advertisements promoting that these black and white containers of pre-prepared smoothies and power bowls contain all the needed nutrients and can be prepared in 90 seconds.
As though the purpose of food was just fuel and convenience. Not flavor, culture, tradition, and yes, believe it or not, fun.
We have in our minds that important things must be serious and stern. We carry that idea into our work for the Kingdom of God, constructing solemn and serious institutions to make sure the vitally important message of Christ is carried from one generation to the next in hallowed, dark wood buildings where children best not spill anything on the carpet.
But our God is not a joyless God, just look at Creation. What do we need this many varieties of colorful flowers for? What is the purpose of the beautiful songs of birds, if not the fun of composing them? The work of God is seriously important but that doesn’t mean it needs to take itself so seriously. We can do the work of God with color and enthusiasm. We can write silly new verses to old hymns and bring dance moves into the sanctuary, because those things are not disrespectful to the God who created us to love dance moves.
Embrace the dino nuggets. Childhood is short. And while you’re at it, bust out the old fondue maker on a Tuesday or make s’mores in your fireplace. Do the silly t-shirt graphic because it makes you happy. Enjoy time with your coworkers. Host a potluck. You don’t honor anyone to deprive yourself of joy.