Saturday, April 12, 2008

Time flies when you’re having fun

And, as it happens, when you’re just ridiculously busy with work and a variety of other things. I won’t bore you with the details; suffice to say that it feels as if I’ve been awfully busy getting nothing done. I am trying to get myself organized this weekend so it will be easier to keep up with this and other things that are more fun than my job.

While catching up on the recycling this evening I paused to thumb through the coupon circulars from today’s New York Times. And what to my wondering eye should appear but this processed food offering.

Do you know what it is? I’ll give you three guesses, and I’m hoping you aren’t even close. Give up? Well, it’s not a Twinkie; it’s a bagel. Come to think of it, that may have been blasphemy. It’s a Kraft “Bagel-ful,” which the ad describes as a “Toasty Warm Bagel & Creamy Philadelphia Cream Cheese, All In One!” and which can be found in the “frozen breakfast aisle.”

Go ahead, get a barf bag. I’ll wait.

No, I have no more idea than you do why anybody in their right mind would want to eat something like this. What really mystifies me, though, is why you would bother to market and advertise it in a city where you are seldom more than about a block away from really good bagels, prepared the way bagels should be, with a boiling-water bath and a hot oven, and served with lox. (Kraft Bagel-fuls do not seem to be available with lox, for which we can all be grateful; the flavors offered are Original, Cinnamon, Strawberry, Whole Grain and Chive.)

This particular product goes along with a theory I’m starting to develop. It seems to me as if the processed-food companies rose to prominence in an age when people had more faith in institutions and better living through chemistry, and when it was easier to convince consumers that nobody really had any time for skilled cooking of good food any more. Of course the past couple of decades have seen a resurgence of interest in good cooking, high-quality food and authentic cuisine. A big part of this movement has been the rejection of processed foods. So the processed foods companies have had two choices for response: improve the quality of their offerings to better meet the needs and standards of the new foodies, or aim their marketing at the lowest common denominator.

Which have they chosen? Suffice to say that today I saw a TV ad for orange juice that seemed to be based on the assumption that orange juice is a better choice for kids than fresh oranges because children are too stupid and clumsy to peel oranges. Admittedly, I don’t have kids, but I’d like to think that if I did I’d be up to the task of teaching them how to peel an orange. And how to wash their hands afterward, which is a pretty useful skill as well.


sally said...

So some of the flavors are based on the cream cheese and some on the bagel? Because I've never had "whole grain" cream cheese. And I don't think I will probably ever want to.

I think these things would sell well on college campuses. On campus here there aren't a lot of options, and this might seem like a good choice to the student who wants to catch five minutes' more sleep and still have a breakfast that is tastier than a granola bar and far cheaper than the stuff they offer in the various eateries.

Still, eeew.

Anonymous said...

Warm, melty cream cheese inside tough, chewy bread. It's like the bastard offspring of a Pop-Tart and a jalapeno popper.

If some clever baker could figure out how to make a take-and-bake bread savory that came out of the oven hot while the cream cheese inside was still cold, though, I'd pay quite a bit for it. Assuming it was made of actual foodstuff.

Anonymous said...

Oo! Oo! Here's a thought:

How about a frozen pre-sliced bagel sold with a little package of cream cheese? Run the cheese pack under hot water for X seconds, just enough to soften it to spreadable consistency, while you zap the bagel. They could even put a little plastic knife in every box.

Hey presto! Actual bread. Actual cheese. OTOH, it's probably been proposed and turned down as too complicated. This is the ad culture that proudly labels single-serve containers of plain yogurt "Pre-Stirred."

Celia Pleete said...

I saw this in the store and thought it looked to disturbingly like a Twinkie to be appetizing.

Wide Lawns said...

I saw a commercial for this and I was horrified. These are in the section of the grocery store that I like to call "the dumb-ass section" right there with the Uncrustables, because Jesus H. Christ if you can not make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich yourself and have to buy a frozen box of them you are a dumb ass. Likewise if you can't spread cream cheese on a bagel, you have serious problems. Someone just recommended your blog to me by the way because I am obsessed with gross recipes and vile processed foods, and you've done a really great job here. I'll definitely be back!