LNB: A Literary Analysis Of Hamilton Deli’s Twitter Account
Written by Youngweon Lee
Youngweon Lee, Editor in Chief of Bwog, spends a lot of time on Twitter. So does Hamilton Deli, her to-go spot for delicious hot sandwiches located on 115th and Amsterdam. This may or may not be a “literary” analysis. You can decide.
In case you didn’t know, Hamilton Deli has a Twitter (@HamiltonDeli). In addition to having amazing sandwiches that are objectively better than Milano’s, they tweet exactly one tweet every day. They usually attach one image to every tweet, and the tweet tends to be in the generic chipper tone of a deli marketing itself on Twitter to 66 people. But their tweets are… a bit special.
I love a deli that helps me make a decision about what to eat for breakfast, except it just sounds so generic. It’s a command (“buy a bagel from us”) followed by a statement including additional information (“we sell bagels, which are fresh, every day”). As far as a marketing tweet goes, it serves its purpose; it commands the reader to buy the deli’s product and provides the relevant information that their bagels are available every day. But you could also substitute literally any food item for “bagel” and this tweet would still work. In fact, I’m pretty sure they have tweets that say the same thing about a different menu item.
What’s making it feel so generic, then, might be the picture accompanying the tweet. If you happened to access the Wikipedia page for bagel and cream cheese recently, you might recognize this image. Yes, indeed, it is a toasted bagel with cream cheese. It’s not HamDel’s toasted bagel with cream cheese. If the picture had been of a bagel from HamDel, it wouldn’t have this stock photo feel, and the tweet wouldn’t have felt so generic, despite the very generic text.
However, in an age when we are completely inundated by content that’s trying so hard to be unique and eye-catching, this genericness feels new in contrast: refreshing, even. Sure, you could have a close-up iPhone picture of a cinnamon raisin bagel with lox, capers, onions, and tomatoes on it, with a 280-character caption including 10 hashtags, but why fatigue people’s eyes like that when you can write a simple, straightforward tweet (“Buy our fresh bagels!”) with a stock photo of a toasted whole wheat (I think) bagel that blends into the wood background and a bowl of plain cream cheese? It’s so simple and so bold. What other Twitter account can claim such boldness, such efficiency?
Let’s look at the following tweet, tweeted on Sep 11.
While I couldn’t find this picture on Wikipedia, it’s so red and so shiny it screams “stock photo!!!!!!!” with its entire being. The dichotomy of the two direct objects used in this sentence, both modified by “fresh” (a running theme), is interesting. On the one hand, you have “vegetables,” and on the other, you have “ingredients.” Are they implying that “vegetables” are separate from “ingredients,” and therefore not “ingredients”? Are “vegetables” a substitute for “ingredients”? The glaring red picture of the tomatoes makes the word “vegetables” stand out, giving less weight to “ingredients” as almost an afterthought. One could apply the Derridean framework of supplements and argue that vegetables, as a supplement, are superior to other ingredients. Vegetables are therefore the supreme “ingredient.” Also bold of them to use a picture of tomatoes to represent vegetables.
This is also obviously a stock image, needless to say. Check out that latte art, though. Spectacular. Cinnamon-y. HamDel doubtlessly has a great taste in stock images. Love the contrast of the clear glass cup and the white ceramic plate, as well as the saturation of shining sunlight that evokes a cold November day when a warm latte such as this one would be very welcome. And indeed, it was quite cold and rainy on Monday: what an appropriate day to tweet something like this.
This tweet is, like the first one, informational. However, where the first tweet was commanding, this one is comforting. Everyone knows the feeling when you’re running late in the morning, but you just know that you’ll be a complete zombie all day without your coffee. (If you don’t know this feeling, you’re way too put together as a person to be on this website. Please leave.) The first sentence in the tweet includes a conditional that showcases HamDel’s keen understanding of the human hubris of running late but also wanting coffee. If you order this coffee (well, not this coffee, as this is a stock image) online on their website (which is in their bio, by the way: smart marketing move), you can have your morning coffee and “make it to the office on time.”
Moving on, we have a crisp baguette stock photo for our Sunday tweet. They even included a hashtag – gasp! – #SundayVibes with both Sunday and Vibes capitalized for easy reading. They really ventured out of their comfort zone with this one. The end of the baguette even seems a little burnt, but before you scream SCANDAL! note that the additional crispiness is sure to go well with the ham and the soft white cheese. They ask us, the customers, to share our #SundayVibes with them, signifying great communication with their target audience. A human touch in the gray, concrete jungle we call home.
Next, you can see that they really were daring with their Saturday tweet, even including a pun on the word “hero.” In Homeric Greek, “hero” can mean man, warrior, the protagonist of a story, etc. (I think – my Greek is very rusty), implying that this cheesesteak sandwich is the main character of this day’s story. I went to high school near Philly, so I have a lot of opinions about “Philly cheesesteaks” outside of the greater Philadelphia area, but I will keep them to myself. Regardless, not all heroes wear capes indeed! Perhaps the real hero of this story is not the sandwich, not any “hero” with a cape, but their “secret sauce.” So mysterious! What could possibly be in this recipe? Why are they putting it on the Philly cheesesteak? Is it in any other menu item? This mystery coupled with this command; I simply cannot resist!
Friday night, when inebriated college students all over Morningside Heights are inevitably looking for late-night snacks, they posted what looks like a club sandwich with a caption that accurately predicts our late-night cravings. Again with the comforting assurance not to worry; they’re “open until midnight.” (At the time of writing this paragraph, I have a wild late-night craving for a club sandwich like this one, but made by HamDel, except it’s almost 2 am.) Someone named ERICA from LA is the single person who liked this tweet. I’m loving this blue background contrasting with the brown color scheme of the sandwich and the plate. Impeccable taste in stock photos, truly.
The bigger the better, indeed! Not sure what the meat in this burger is. It doesn’t really look like beef. It might be fried chicken, but it looks a little too dark brown for that. Doesn’t matter, I’m sure HamDel’s burgers are “hearty.” That tomato slice is reminiscent of the tweet about “fresh vegetables and ingredients” above, with a picture of tomatoes. This continuity is so rewarding to look at. Also, more importantly, we know that is a fresh slice of tomato because they said so. Well, more accurately, this tweet was posted first and the tomato tweet a few days later, so it would have been reassuring to know afterward that their tomatoes are indeed fresh.
I’m going to skip a few days for the last tweet I will analyze because this one is extra special and extra generic. There are a few more absolute gems that I would love to write about, but I’m really craving a HamDel sandwich right now and getting sad because they are currently closed at the time of writing.
Anyway, it’s another burger tweet, but the tweet has nothing to do with burgers. They’re “sure that you’ll love every one of [their] food items!” They’re probably right! This is such a generic text that I can see this being in my Latin prose composition textbook as an exercise on how to correctly write the partitive genitive in an indirect discourse. That melted cheese, fresh vegetables, and fries are really speaking to me right now, though. Though you know that this isn’t a burger made by HamDel, you can’t help but want a burger from HamDel because of their utter confidence that “you’ll love [it].”
I could go on for a couple thousand more words, but I’ll stop here because I need to sleep. Basically, HamDel is very precious and wholesome and must be protected at all costs. Please sponsor us.
Stock photo tweets via HamDel’s Twitter