We have to start in the world of the Belchers. After a slow start, due to its first two seasons falling outside the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas corridor, Bob’s Burgers would quickly become legendary for its holiday episode game, opening on a classic All Hallow’s Eve episode “Full Bars.” That set the bar (sorry!) high, but their following season’s Christmas episode topped it, with its unlikely choice for parody, touching family moments sandwiched between genuine thrills, and its introduction of a larger world to the sweet treat, the “Dutch Baby.” That last one turned out to be an actual culinary creation in the real world, but we’ll get to that later.
A Tale of Three Trees
In a sense, the episode covers all three late-in-the-year holidays, opening on Halloween as Linda–in her ever endearing passion and joy–is excitedly trimming the Christmas tree in October. Smash cut to Thanksgiving, and of course the tree has dried up. After a second tree turns brown on Christmas Eve, the family pours into their car in search of a last minute evergreen. A lesser show might go for the simple humor in the search, or finding a scrawny Charlie Brown-esque twig. But, no, the Belchers find a suitable tree quickly, and it’s on the way home that their adventure takes a turn in the parody of a movie that would have come out likely before Bob & Linda were even born.
Duelin’ With a Candy Cane
1971’s Duel was Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut and featured Dennis Weaver as a motorist menaced by a mysterious truck with a mostly obscured driver with no sense of grudge perspective. Bob’s Burgers turns the standard big rig into a candy cane truck, and we do see more of the driver, but in case you haven’t watched I will tell you nothing more but that the casting is nostalgic perfection! Meanwhile, his family doesn’t believe him at first, Gene is obsessed with getting a radio station to play “Jingle in the Jungle” (and, yes, you will eventually hear this “American Classic” and you will thank Gene), Teddy is over in the B-story, caught up in Louise’s Santa trap, and along the way, and Louise tries to protect the “Dutch baby” she was so excited to find in a diner mid-pursuit.
The Dutch Baby
I was as shocked as you might be to find out Bob’s Burgers did not invent this crazy flapjack from Mars. Not actually from The Netherlands, the Dutch Baby was a specialty of a small Seattle diner run by Victor Manca, and its name, coined by his daughter in the 1940s, was most likely a bastardization of deutsch, as the food’s actual ancestry stemmed from Germany. It’s somewhere between a pancake and a Yorkshire pudding, and its gimmick is that it is baked in a cast iron pan that is then placed in the oven. And having surprised a friend by cooking one in secret on a Christmas morning many years ago, I can attest that it is celestially delicious.
Louise Belcher: “Dad, stop ruining Halloween by not celebrating Christmas”
Gene Belcher: “That’s how I want to go out, dehydrated and covered in tinsel.”
Louise Belcher: “Sounds like a Gay Pride Parade”
Gene Belcher: “Mmmhmm”
Linda Belcher: “Ooh, my Dutch Baby. It came out in 22 minutes. Oooh, it’s a preemie, just like Jesus”
Teddy: “I wish my home smelled this hammy. Bob has it all!”
Linda Belcher: “Now I know what the Van Trapps felt like”
Teddy: “That’s a dumb place to keep bowls!”
Bob Belcher: “I don’t want to point fingers, but it was the kids’ fault”
Gene Belcher: “Yeah, dad, what I wanted for Christmas was to be thrown under the bus”
Bob Belcher: “I wasn’t expecting so much bongo!”
You can watch Bob’s Burgers “Christmas in the Car” (Season 4, Episode 8) here.