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‘Steamed Hams’ is more than just a revived Simpsons meme — it’s an award show

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The Steamies award the best fast food of the year, but we award a Steamie back to Steamed Hams

It’s hard to think back to nearly 365 days ago, when the most loving relationship of 2018 began. Yes, we fell hardest not for the enduring absurdity of cable news horrors; not the operatic overtures of God of War, our game of the year; nor the career-defining work of popular culture’s most intriguing creators.

We fell in love with “Steamed Hams” when the sketch first aired as part of The Simpsons episode “22 Short Films About Springfield.” It’s a brisk scene performed by Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers, who engage in the song-and-dance of an ingenue (Skinner) desperately hoping to impress an uncompromising paternal figure.

I’m sure you’ve seen it, but please watch it again.

There’s something so delicious about the mounting anxiety at its heart, and the almost lyrical nature of its infinitely quotable script. But 2018 marked a new beginning, and “Steamed Hams” was its best rebirth of all: Starting in late 2017, the scene began to recirculate on YouTube and social media. This year brought it the recognition that continued to define it throughout the year, through recuts and Facebook meme-posting groups and elsewhere. (Heck, I even went to a special steamed cheeseburgers-themed night at a minor league baseball game. We bought commemorative hats and a signed jersey with a burger bun print. It says “Steamed Burgers” on it. We paid almost $90 for it, and now I wear it once a week.)

No wonder it became 2018’s first good viral phenomenon, easily birthing parodies and reinterpretations of the highest order. “Steamed Hams,” like The Simpsons itself, is a simple pleasure, easily consumed by all kinds of people. These are reasons enough to never forget “Steamed Hams” and its inextricable connection to the year, but so much has happened: We’ve tried on new hats for size, new jokes for laughs, new wounds to close back up. Amid the sorrow and surprise, however, former Simpsons writer and showrunner — and “Steamed Hams” bard — Bill Oakley has re-emerged to again capitalize on his masterwork, days before the year is up.

Oakley dedicates his Instagram account to fast food reviews, among other things. And to celebrate the year in cheap eats, he’s launched the Steamie Awards, named after his gift to society. With help from some celebrity friends, Oakley names the fast food worth trying in this, the Year of Our Hams 2018. Categories include the best non-chain burger of 2018, with actor Ben Schwartz doing the honors;

Bizarre food combo of the year, awarded by comics writer Matt Fraction (Hawkeye);

And best fast food, non-burger category, as presented by Desus Nice of Desus and Mero fame.

Discover the remaining seven winners (there are 10 in total) below, and then revisit some of our favorite “Steamed Hams” parodies while reflecting on what a year you’ve had.