Pre-packaged slop and bunk beds took over Litchfield Penitentiary when season three of Orange is the New Black came to a close. More hungry inmates in those beds will no doubt lead to more delectable storylines for the Netflix drama when season four drops on June 17. Fill up on these favorite OITNB food-centric moments as you get ready to binge-watch the new season.
Piper learns the hungry way that food is power in prison and that the one controlling it is powerful. In episode one, the newest blonde inmate commits the cardinal sin of calling the food disgusting in front of Red. Our favorite Kitchen Czar wastes no time starving out poor Princess Pipes but not before she sends her a warning shot: an English muffin topped with a used tampon. Don’t want to see the Yelp review for that brunch spot.
Fast-forward a few seasons and our imprisoned protagonist has internalized the food-equals-power lessons served to her on day one. Seeing the new life ramen flavor packets have taken on as a way to mask the taste of the new prison grub, Piper buys out the commissary’s entire supply. Chapmen then uses the MSG-laden currency to entice the ladies to join her underground used undies ring.
It’s a toss up between the shower floor and the new prison food for nastiest inanimate object on the Netflix series. Litchfield inmates will do just about anything to avoid direct contact with both. Enter Lolly Whitehill fresh from Chicago (and Lord knows where else) who is in the know about the kosher meals hidden in the freezer. It’s not long before Judaism is the new black. The kosher cuisine also gives birth to a touching season three plotline — Black Cindy’s conversion to Judaism.
Season three has shown us that we never know what we’ll get when we spend time with Chang. But if we’re lucky it will come with a side of her Frito fritters. Proving once again she is more than the butt of a joke, Chang surreptitiously fills two empty milk pints with peas from the cafeteria. Next thing we know we spy her prepping them with crushed Fritos to create four perfectly microwaved fritter-like creations.
A close second favorite Chang food scene also comes courtesy of last season. The keeper of the commissary has known about the breach in the fence for some time it seems. Chang has been getting deliveries of fruit and other contraband through that fateful hole. Seeing her quietly peel a clementine and watch a TV show on her ill-gotten smartphone is a welcomed added glimpse into this character.
Gloria’s kitchen squad whips up a batch of penis cookies to mark Valentine’s Day, as one does, in season two. Naturally they hand one to CO Fischer. The former Red-Hook-grocery-bagger-turned-correctional-officer devours the phallic pastry in no time flat to save face, and protect the women, when Mendez walks in. (Feel free to insert your best off-color line here, folks.) Oh, Fisher, you really were too good for this place.
The pop-up restaurants trend is everywhere, even at Litchfield. Red’s small garden project provides the fresh ingredients for the special meals she is crafting for those lucky enough to get a place at her garden table. In another nod to the prison farm-to-table movement, Black Cindy, Taystee, Poussey, and Watson munch on the beautiful fresh corn they lifted from the garden.
Vee knows what cake can buy. The Rude One trades Gloria, who has just taken control of the kitchen, a stale pack of smokes for a Funfetti cake with chocolate icing. She uses the cake to lure Taystee and company into her evil web and thus begins season two. Fortunately, Rosa ultimately gives Vee what’s coming to her but not before Vee and her cake crew do some damage. Does the devil serve sheet cake in hell, Vee?
Where do we find Piper as her white-privilege-induced furlough comes to an end? Sitting on the ground washing down a fast-food burger with a Colt 45. Oh, how the blonde have fallen.
Beth Kanter is a DC-based food and travel writer and the author of several books including the popular Washington, DC Chef’s Table. She is considering celebrating the release of the new season of OITNB by recreating Chang’s Frito fritters. (Follow her Instagram for photographic evidence when it happens.)