In light of Chrissy Teigen’s most recent scandal, we wonder: What cake mix is $25 worth?
It’s wonderful to see Chrissy Teigen-related controversy in the news once more. What a blessing. It nearly has the feel of earlier days. If you missed it, Teigen’s kitchen and home goods company Cravings recently debuted a line of baking mixes. These aren’t your normal baking mixes; rather, they’re a little fancier versions of recipes like banana bread and salted white chocolate macadamia cookies (“with flaky sea salt!”). The issue is that Teigen is being accused of copying Jordan Rondel’s $25 “luxury” baking mixes, which are made in New Zealand. She might be correct, too, given that the two collaborated on the September release of a carrot cake mix. Gawker provides an excellent summary of the drama, but the overall situation raises a different issue that is crucial to think about. Why not just buy a freaking cake if you’re spending $25 on cake mix?
When I was growing up, the usual rule was that you got what you paid for and it was of higher quality if you paid more for it. That kind of thinking is now wholly irrelevant. Rondel does make the case that her mixes require “stupidly costly ingredients,” that she owns a small business, and that it arrives in “present quality packaging” under the “Why So Expensive?” part of her website. Teigen’s mixes cost between $8 and $10 less per box than Rondel’s do.
The white chocolate macadamia cookie mixes from Teigen’s and Betty Crocker both contain sugar, enriched flour, and baking chips derived from palm oil, so I’m going to venture a guess and say that most of the $6 price difference between the two does not go to the companies making the mixes. Maybe I’m off base!
But even so, why not just go to a bakery or grocery shop where the cakes will be freshly created by experts if you are spending $25 for Rondel’s Coconut Raspberry Lime Loaf mix (for which you need to provide your own raspberries!).
Baking mixes have a lengthy history and were created out of convenience and a national molasses excess. But there was always a cost to that convenience: instead of having a cupboard full of cake components that would quickly decay if you didn’t use them all, all you needed to make a cake for your family was to add water or maybe an egg. When your child’s birthday party is approaching and you need 50 cupcakes but don’t want to spend as much as your rent, you should use mixes. You could easily prepare a cake from scratch for $25, or if you lack the baking skills, delegate the task to someone who is skilled in it.
Naturally, it is more intricate than that. In order to particularly reassure housewives that they were not “cheating,” they were still faithfully preparing meals for their families, mixes were also sold to them in the 1940s and 1950s. While many individuals do legitimately enjoy baking, the pressure to perform this kind of housework is still very great, and such people are more likely to be baking from scratch rather than using a mix. What are you paying for if you aren’t getting professional quality goods or cost-effective convenience from a mix? Status? Probably! In any case, you shouldn’t have to perform the labour of baking a cake on top of it if you’re paying that much money. The boldness. Order a cake. Break free.