I love travel documentaries, pointless challenges, and pop culture ephemera that should be gone but somehow survives. This viral video has them all. In “I Drove to Every Rainforest Cafe in North America,” YouTuber Ted Nivision and his partner Eddy Burback do just that. They drive nearly 10,000 miles to visit malls from California to New Jersey to Canada, just to soak in the inexplicable vibe of the Rainforest Cafe, where the animals are animatronic, the food is mediocre, and there’s an indoor thunderstorm every 22 minutes.
The chain was founded in 1994, in the midst of the themed restaurant craze, and somehow it’s still alive, unlike shuttered bad-food-ideas The Fashion Cafe, Mars 2112, Dive! (Steven Spielberg’s submarine-themed restaurant chain), and WWF New York (a restaurant about professional wrestling). Sadly, the writing may be on the wall for the Rainforest Cafe. There were once 34 locations in the US, but only 17 remain, so don’t put off a visit.
This video is one of those projects that divides people into two groups: Those who say, “But why would you do that?” and those who say, “Why would you do anything else?” I’m fully in the second camp, because as Nivision put it: “It is the stupidest, most ridiculous restaurant to exist, and I love it so much.”