Conforming to Nonconformity

Opinion- How plain donuts, vanilla and individualism are victims of counterculture


Following the early conversations in a relationship of any form or status, it is not uncommon for the “favorites phenomenon” to make its rounds.

“What’s your favorite” this?

“What’s your favorite” that?

For some reason, this seems to be a highly recognizable part of getting to know somebody, sometimes even associating individuals with their favorite things. Multiple times throughout my life, I find myself having to defend my answer to the imminent question of:

“What’s your favorite ice cream?”

My answer: soft serve vanilla. Their reaction generally has a connotation familiar with that of condemnation.

Vanilla is seen to be plain, boring. This is largely due to the fact that its color is mainly white, and also large in part due to the low cost of producing vanillin, which is why vanilla has become such a familiar and accessible ice cream flavor. Vanilla ice cream is the base for many other ice creams, and acts as a flavor enhancer.

The truth of the matter is that vanilla is as unique of a flavor as sherbet, strawberry, and chocolate. However, the association of vanilla as “basic” or “plain,” “boring,” has made its way into the New Oxford American Dictionary with vanilla sporting an adjective definition of “Having no special or extra features; ordinary or standard.”

To call this a travesty would be a vast understatement.

Earlier today I stopped at Dunkin’ after school. I had about fifteen dollars on a gift card and decided I would get myself a drink and some food. This Dunkin’ was extremely understaffed and I had the pleasure of being next in line for a very stressful ten minutes where I needed to decide what I wanted.

Finally, while in the middle of my order, right after getting a medium peach refresher, my eyes noticed the rack completely full of old fashioned plain donuts. I ordered two.

Quickly after sitting down and starting to eat, I realized the donuts tasted a little bit old. So not only was the rack full, but the plain donuts I got had likely been there since morning.

However, regardless of the donuts being aged, I still found myself extremely satisfied after finishing the two donuts and refresher. Does this just mean I’m an exception to the norm? Maybe.

However, I don’t think it would be naive to trace situations like this back to the counterculture movement where people simply avoided traditional practices and looked down on the norm. The counterculture movement gave many people a scapegoat, allowing them to abandon traditions that they did not personally agree with. However, counterculture was really just a herd mindset allowing masses of people to conform to a new set of ideals together, making them feel like they were going against conformity. In reality, they were just conforming to the idea of nonconformity and in the process, dragged those who truly valued certain traditions and practices into a culture that looks down upon things that may be classified as plain or bland.

It’s ironic that counterculture, in its quest to end conformity and revive individualism, actually does the exact same thing that the movement’s goal was trying to get away from by restricting beliefs centered around more traditional ideals.

In deciding to eat vanilla ice cream or plain donuts, I am actually holding more true to the intention behind counterculture than the toxic practice of conforming to nonconformity that counterculture has developed into; I am actually conserving individualism.

In an effort to form a society that is simply more accepting of preference, counterculture has developed into a hypercritical and judgmental tendency that is constantly forcing people to keep up with the latest “trends” rather than what people actually like. This strict expectation of adherence to changes in “nonconformity” has impacts on people’s daily choices such as the music they listen to, the food they consume, and especially how they present themselves to other people which should not at all be a concern in a society that preaches individualism.