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The story in the final paragraph appears in Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders, which is possibly its source. However, he attributes the housewives reaction against cake mixes because they take away not only their individual creativity ('just add tap water'), but also the feeling that they are the food maker/provider for their family. He doesn't really mention that they had concerns over the the contents of nature of the cake, which, if correct, makes it irrelevant to his story.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.
by Ephemera on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 03:27:06 PM EST
Your comment reminds me that (it seems to me) every TV ad I see for a quick-make mix (cake, soup, whatever), always features the happy food-providing mother rewarded with general joy around the table and often an appreciative glance from Mr Man of the Family.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 04:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fake food and a fake social construct?

It is ironic that food companies have exploited and subverted the link between food and motherhood. The idea that food is to be trusted implicitly because it is provided by our mothers, who would never put anything on the table which would harm us. By providing food which is quicker and easier, they have allowed women to dispense with another 'duty' which tied them to the home. The price being that you didn't ask whether your family's health was the cost.

Now you are as likely to see a mother examining the ingredients of a food product as you are seeing her make a meal from scratch. Maybe that is an overstatement, but mothers (and fathers) have reasserted their control over their child's diet in a way which remains within the system of mass-produced food.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 05:32:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think "proper mother" pressure comes into that.

Despite the fact that most of us now work, there's (manufactured?) pressure to do all the things our mothers used to as well.

So...the friendly cake mix manufacturer comes to our rescue...Add water, stir, become a domestic goddess.

When my children were smaller, I confess to having bought biscuit kits, keeping the Thomas the Tank Engine/dinosaur cookie cutter, and throwing the biscuit mix away.  It seemed more of a waste to spend time making something horrible.

But...my mother baked everything herself, and I learned from her. Not everybody did. "Proper" cookery lessons have only just been reintroduced to UK schools.

Unfortunately, cookery lessons in UK schools are funded by the parents providing the ingredients.  My daughter is doing cookery at the moment, and estimates that, in any given week, only about half of her class will take part.  Usually the same half.

It's a problem.  It can be really, really expensive to provide the ingredients, because supermarkets don't sell 50g of beansprouts, one stick of celery, half a pepper, four baby corn, six mange-tout or a tablespoon of soy sauce.  I estimated that her vegetable stir fry would have cost £10-£12 from a standing start. Leaving a fridge full of leftover ingredients, but that presupposes the parents know what to do with them.

Coincidentally, tomorrow, she's making cake  :)

by Sassafras on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 05:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that seems insane, expecting each individual set of parents to buy the ingredients just for their kid.  what about pooling an ingredients fee and buying in bulk for the whole class from farmer's market or greengrocer's?  harumph...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 07:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about the state rather than the parents financing a free education ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 28th, 2008 at 04:44:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liability. See stories about "cake sales" requesting that you not bring home baked cakes.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 28th, 2008 at 06:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've thought that there might be a business opportunity providing and delivering cookery ingredients to local schools.

I know I'd rather send in a cheque once a term and know it was going to be dealt with for me.

The foreseeable problem is that, if the business model were successful, anyone who didn't buy the cheapest possible ingredients would be easy to outcompete.

And at least I know my daughter is using good ingredients when I provide them.

Her cake was, by the way...er...dense.  But don't tell her I said so... :)

by Sassafras on Mon Apr 28th, 2008 at 01:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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