Something to think about:

"I gleaned some interesting trivia from 'Finding Betty Crocker: the Secret Life of America's First Lady', by Susan Marks. Betty Crocker rolled out White cake mix in 1952. (The company also introduced Honey Spice and Chocolate Malt flavors in 1953 and 1955, respectively.)

"At this time, the company was still refining their approach to marketing. While they sought to promote a quick and easy product that still retained a "fresh, 'home-made'" quality, 'the market was slow to mature' (p. 168). The company called upon the market research of Dr. Burleigh Gardner and Dr. Ernet Dichter, both business psychologists:

"'The problem, according to psychologists, was eggs. Dichter, in particular, believed that powdered eggs, often used in cake mixes, should be left out, so women could add a few fresh eggs into the batter, giving them a sense of creative contribution.'

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"As a result, General Mills (who own Betty Crocker) altered their product, abandoning the powdered egg in their mixes. The requirement to add eggs at home was marketed as a benefit, conferring the quality of 'home-made' authenticity upon the box cake mix...."

Our kitchens, our cult of home cooking, and all of this moral- and rural-like talk about how preparing your own food is good for you (you being the best thing you can be to you) is, I believe, much like the egg in this story.

People who live in the city do not really need a kitchen (or a big one). It would make more sense for us to turn over the boring business of the kitchen to places outside the house, to places run by those who can actually cook for a living. Despite the problem of cooking having been solved by the city, in the same way the problem of baking was solved by Betty Crocker, we have these bad feelings, these lagging, nagging feelings for authenticity, for an egg in the mix. This is all our kitchens really are—fictions of authenticity.


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