This article was originally published on March 6, 2020.
Sneakers and food: two of life’s greatest pleasures, amirite? They can be both cultural pillars and cash-guzzling money traps, and when one inspires the other, greatness can ensue.
So, set the table, tuck that napkin into your shirt, and dive into some of the tastiest food-inspired sneakers to ever hit the table.
Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Lobster Series (2008–2022)
The Boston-based retailer served up the tasty treat back in 2008, paying homage to New England’s favourite crustacean. The shoes released with a feast of extra accoutrements, including lobster claw rubber bands, shell crackers, fork, bib, and wet naps bearing ‘Concepts Fishing Co’ branding, while the first 50 pairs at the launch came in a lobster crate wooden box! Now that’s how you do packaging right!
The 2008 pair was followed by blue, purple, yellow, and orange editions referencing rare varieties of the sea critter.
New Balance ‘Vodka and Caviar’ Pack (2018)
Few brands know how to bring luxury to sneakers like New Balance, and the ‘Vodka and Caviar’ pack added an extra layer of shine to the premium sneaks. The 0.9 versions of the 770, 1500 and 991 wore suedes smooth like a tumbler of Russia’s finest and leather as rich as the black jewels of the sea and were as extravagant as their inspiration.
These were for the true connoisseurs.
Extra Butter x Reebok Ventilator ‘Street Meat’ (2015)
It’s not all lobster and caviar, though. Sometimes you gotta give credit to the street eats that get you through countless late nights and hangovers. And that’s exactly what Extra Butter and Reebok did with 2015’s Ventilator ‘Street Meat’.
The flavoursome link-up celebrated the famous halal street food of EB’s hometown, NYC, and didn’t skimp on the details, just like you shouldn’t skimp on that white sauce. There’s meaty suede on the upper, yellow rice flecked on the midsole, and lettuce green on the arch support.
DQM x Nike Air Max 90 ‘Bacon’ (2004 and 2021)
Ah, the crème de la crème of food-themed sneakers: the Nike Air Max 90 ‘Bacon’. The coveted collaboration headed by the legendary Dave’s Quality Meats saw rashers of suede and leather layered like premium streaky and used a masterful combination of red and brown that was damn delectable.
Rumours began swirling about a 2020 return for the renowned pair, but an official release didn’t happen until a year after – sans DQM affiliation.
Nike SB Dunk ‘Chicken and Waffles’ (2016)
Outside of the US, there’s a lot of scepticism about the combination of poultry and syrup on a bed of crispy batter, but the Nike SB Dunk High ‘Chicken and Waffles’ are easy to sink your teeth into.
The mouth-watering make-up wore a waffle print upper, a syrup-smothered Swoosh, and special insoles paying tribute to the famous dish. The whole thing was undeniably finger-lickin’ good.
END. x Saucony Shadow 5000 ‘Burger’ (2014)
Lettuce green, beetroot red, and bready tan suedes were stacked on the upper, while fleshy pink Saucony stripes added some meatiness.
Nike Kyrie 4 ‘Cereal’ Pack (2018)
You know what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it makes sense to celebrate that essential meal with sneakers (doesn’t it?). Back in 2018, Kyrie Irving hit us with a big whack of nostalgia, dropping a trio of cereal-centric Nike Kyrie 4s. Whether your preference is for the Kix, Lucky Charms, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, there’s no better way to start your day than dunking your spoon and your feet into your favourite cereal.
mita x hummel Marathona ‘Danish Pastry’ (2018)
Following their collaborative Marathona ‘Smorrebrod’ from 2016, Danish brand hummel and Japan’s mita dished up a second serving of the silhouette with 2018’s ‘Danish Pastry’.
Just like Denmark’s favourite flaky baked good, the Marathona is dressed in lashings of jammy red, while the sockliner is golden like the perfect puff.
Momofuku x Nike SB Dunk High Pro (2017)
David Chang’s 2017 Nike SB Dunk High Pro was a peachy tribute to the relationship between the East Village skate community and Chang’s Momofuku restaurants.
A denim upper called to the inky aprons worn by the Noodle Bar chefs, while a lucky peach sat at the heel to celebrate the restaurant empire.
END. x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Wasabi’ (2019)
As far as spicy colabs go, END. and ASICS turned up the heat on this one. The GEL-Lyte III ‘Wasabi’ cleared sneakerhead sinuses in 2019, stirring up premium green suede for the heat-packing root and charcoal grey nodding to the rocky regions from which it originates. In a final tasty touch, peach accents recall the sashimi and pickled ginger that accompany wasabi.
Pizza Hut Pie Top (2017)
Food-themed shoes are all well and good, but they’re still going to leave you hungry in the end. Enter the Pizza Hut ‘Pie Top’ to put its money where its mouth is and actually order you some pizza! Wearers could place an order by pressing the button on the tongue, and a pie would be delivered to their location.
Only 64 pairs of the original were made, but the Hut and The Shoe Surgeon teamed up the next year to re-up on the idea.
Surely this is as good as technology gets, right?
END. x Saucony Shadow 6000 ‘Fried Chicken’ (2022)
END. continued their food-inspired Saucony series and served the ‘Fried Chicken’ Shadow 6000. They used golden brown suede across the majority of the upper, pairing it up with some fuzzy laces to replicate crispy batter. The side logo has a little drumstick ‘bone’ sticking out! Completing the colab is custom logos reminiscent of suburban takeaway shops, a detail that’s replicated on the bespoke shoe box packaging.
Skate Mental x Nike SB Stefan Janoski ‘Pizza’ (2016)
Skate Mental are longtime Nike SB partners who also happened to produce a Janoski with a pepperoni pizza graphic on its uppers to match their tasty griptape offerings. This sneaker slice definitely got hot and steamy after a big session down at the park – just blow the dirt off and they still might be edible.
Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Chunky Dunky’ (2020)
The ‘Chunky Dunky’ perhaps represented peak Nike SB Dunk hype when it was churned out in 2020. Non-sneakerheads wanted a pair for its pure novelty factor, while cunning flippers did everything they could to scoop pairs to resell. Cultural impact aside, this pair does continue Nike SB’s whimsical Dunk executions, evident in the bright colours juxtaposed with the cow-hair panels.
J.Crew x New Balance 997 ‘Butterscotch’ (2016)
American style providers J.Crew strengthened their NB offering back in the 2010s with a slew of exclusive colourways and collaborations. Finishing off this list on a sweet note is the 997 ‘Butterscotch’, which used the finest materials and Made In USA construction to deliver a dessert for the feet. This leather lozenge doesn’t come cheap – aftermarket prices are at least three times its RRP.