The Imagist Language of Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction, like most of Quentin Tarantino’s films, uses food to spark imagist memories of taste and smell. Samuel L. Jackson’s burger is the luminous detail that connects us to the taste of Big Kahuna. The chain is fictional, but it looks (and probably tastes) just like a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.

At Jack Rabbit Slim’s, John Travolta orders a “vanilla Coke.” The line is crisp and colloquial, with the same visual resonance that The Beach Boys deliver in All Summer Long:

Sittin’ in my car outside your house
’Member when you spilled Coke all over your blouse

Later, Bruce Willis grabs a box of Frosted Cinnamon Toaster Pastries from his kitchen cabinet. Like Red Apple cigarettes and Wolf’s Tooth dog food, it’s another fictional Tarantino brand—a generic Pop-Tart madeleine—that instantly recalls the flavor of real-life food.