Friday, August 27, 2004
On Labor Day 1995 the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota welcomed its newest eatery: Hulk Hogan's Pastamania!.
The Mall of America opened in 1992 and is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the WORLD (take that Gupreets' Camel-a-rama in downtown Libya!)
The mall is host to hundreds of shops and attractions including Camp Snoopy.
Camp Snoopy is an indoor theme park with over 30 rides and seven acres of fun. That's 4.5 acres more fun than Gupreets' Camel-a-rama in downtown Libya. The mall is also host to the four story Lego Imagination Center and the NASCAR Indoor Speedway.
See, the Mall of America is not just a mall, it is a tourist attraction. People vacation at the Mall of America. It is special.
Regular malls, are all the same. Really! Every mall has a KB Toy and Hobby that looks EXACTLY the same, a GAP that looks exactly the same (the same as other GAPs, not the same as KB, although that would ROCK!) But, the Mall of America is DIFFERENT.
Being so different, it seems like the PERFECT place for something as odd as Hulk Hogan's Pastamania!.
Pastamania! was basically a food court pasta stand. They served several different kinds of pasta and other American-ized Italian foods.
The restaurant was small and located near other, bigger restaurants. However, it's proximity to Camp Snoopy should have brought in crowds of young Hulkamaniacs looking for 'pascetti.'
Pastamania! opened for business as part of a big Labor Day celebration at the Mall. In addition to Pastamania!, wrestling fans had another reason to rejoice: WCW Nitro had its premiere episode live from the Mall.
Hulk Hogan, in his pre-NWO stage, was the WCW's biggest draw. He cleverly turned the show into a Pastamania! infomercial casually saying the word 'pasta' like a Smurf says 'Smurf.'
If you had played a Pastamania! drinking game, where you drank a shot of vodka every time he said 'pasta,' you would be DEAD.
On the card, Hogan fought against Big Bubba. Hogan claimed his Hulkamaniacs (fans) were now Pastamaniacs. That is pretty big leap.
Fan: I like you, Hulk.
Hogan: Good, then you like pasta, too.
Fan: I don't like Italian food.
Hogan: Yes, you are a Pastamaniac.
Fan: Uh, how about just saying I like baked potatoes? They have starch in them.
Hogan: Look kid, either you admit to loving pasta, or I am going to beat you with a can of Spaghettios!
So, they were Pastamaniacs, and Pastamania ran wild, THAT NIGHT.
The mania did not last long. Soon after opening weekend, the restaurant sat (mostly) empty night after night, the Hulk Hogan merchandise collected dust at the souvenir stand, and soon, Pastamania! closed forever.
The Mall of America still hosts a throng of theme restaurants. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Rainforest Cafe and Kokomo’s all serve food with a smile. But, NONE of them serve kids pasta called Hulkaroni.
Maybe Pastamania! will one day re-emerge like a phoenix rising from the... uh... pasta. Perhaps, its day will come again.
Until then, I hear Bam Bam Bigelow's Tuna Loaf Cafe is coming soon to Gupreets' Camel-a-rama in downtown Libya.