A Silly Digital Project: Chopped Bot!

In Fall 2016 I took a “Literary Programming” class and learned the basics of Python. A literal seven months later, I’ve finally completed the (surprisingly easy) task of “publishing” one of my projects: Chopped Bot!

It’s really simple, really silly, and I really love it. It’s a Twitter Bot that imagines scenarios from Food Network’s “Chopped.” For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it’s a cooking competition in which each of the contestants receives a basket of mystery ingredients at the start of each round. They have to make a dish with all of the food items, and the one who does the poorest gets “chopped.” I don’t want this post to turn into a cultural analysis of “Chopped,” so I’ll just encourage you to check it out. (Although I DO have a lot of thoughts on “Chopped”… I’ll save those for another day.) Or, if you don’t want to do that but want to understand how absurd the episodes can get, check out this Buzzfeed article.

My Chopped Bot is a slightly-amped-up re-imagining of the show. It’s a total joke. I wanted to make fun of how formulaic every aspect is: there’s always one chef who is a little quirky, one (and usually only one) who isn’t white or isn’t straight, one who inevitably forgets about an ingredient. The baskets are bizarre but never totally unexpected, the judges say similar things after each round, etc. Currently, @BotChopped will give you a “synopsis,” “basket,” or “critique.” Here’s a snippet of the code that makes up the “synopsis” and “basket” sections. 

Is it reductive to break down a television show into variables? Maybe. But it’s interesting to consider how stories are nothing but elements and variables, and I had fun making this stupid thing. Up next: a bot that produces short speculative fiction scenarios, or maybe “gen-X gripes bot.”

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