Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quality Mass Produced Food?

Frank Bruni, inspired by recent food world cloak-and-dagger tale of an (alleged) attempt to steal the secret to Thomas' English muffins' "nooks and crannies", notes that not all mass produced foods are bad:
But it's probably good to remember, at a time when we're exalting all things artisanal, that "mass-market" isn't always and necessarily awful. At least not from a gustatory (as opposed to ethical) perspective. Like Hellman's mayo and Heinz ketchup, Thomas' muffins are mighty impressive for what they are. And like Hellman's and Heinz, they engender fierce, fierce loyalty. That was one of my thoughts as I read the Times piece, and it was another prompt for this post.

While I'm not sure I agree about the Hellman's... I only recently started liking mayonnaise after making it at home... it seems the general point is true: it's easy to become obsessed with the concept of small batches and hand crafting, when the final product might not be better (but is vastly more expensive). Certainly I can't imagine spending $6 for 8 ounces of artisanal ketchup... but who knows? Maybe I'd think it was worth it if I had it (doubtful).

However, what interests me the most about this "nooks and crannies" secret squirrel stuff... is that I've been wanting to make homemade English muffins for quite some time. Will I be so disappointed in my efforts that I swear off non-Thomas' efforts forever and wonder sadly why I ever thought to challenge their genius? I suspect not, as my guess is that the majority of secrets in Thomas' formula relates to making those nooks and crannies consistently and cheaply on an industrial scale... and since I'm only going to make a dozen or so, I'm not sure this knowledge will be so useful. I guess we'll see.

photo by Flickr user naughtomaton used under a Creative Commons license