Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH!!! I went to the grocery store today to pick up a few things, and this, of course, involved a trip to the Baking Aisle. But there is a problem. My grocery store doesn’t have a normal baking aisle. And this is a big store, in a large chain of stores Publix which I will not name, but they can’t put together a baking aisle?! How’s a girl supposed to BAKE when she can’t find BAKING ITEMS?! Now you might ask why I go to this store. Well, I’ll tell you: because they have the best produce department and an excellent deli as well. And the nicest store manager (Greg) and check-out lady (Ruth Ann) ever known to exist.
But back to the issue at hand . . . .Let me give you a few examples of this very serious Baking Aisle problem which has plagued me for years. First of all, the sign hanging over the aisle reads as follows:
- Cake Mixes
What is this – the Miscellaneous Aisle? The sign doesn’t even say “Baking Needs” or “Baking Items”. They’ve got pickles right there across from the sugar. Salad dressing across from the extracts. And the sign doesn’t even mention that sugar and flour – the two most essential baking needs – are on this aisle! Are the store layout people insane? I must conclude that they are, based not only on the sign, but also on the following evidence:
When I first moved to this fair city in 2002, I went to this store to get some graham cracker crumbs for a bar cookie recipe. After looking on The Baking, excuse me, The Miscellaneous Aisle several times and not finding them, I went to Customer Service to ask where on earth they keep the graham cracker crumbs. After an extensive search of the entire store by the store manager, the assistant manager, 2 employees, and myself, we could not find them anywhere. Then one of the employees said, “Oh, wait . . I think I know where they are!” You are NOT going to believe where he found them. ON THE CRACKER AISLE between the GRAHAM CRACKERS and SALTINES. When I finally regained the faculty of speech, I explained to the store manager that this item is used to make crusts for cheesecakes, and hence is a baking item, and that all the other stores like Kroger, Sweetbay, Albertson’s, etc. keep it on The Baking Aisle. I am happy to say that this problem has since been rectified. But it was only a precursor of the discovery of an even more ridiculous Baking Item placement . . .
I use condensed milk in several sinful bar cookie recipes. So when I wnet to my store to get some Eagle Brand, I naturally went to the Miscellaneous Aisle. But . . . it’s not there. Now where do you think they keep it? Based on the placement of graham crackers, you might guess that they keep it: A) in the refrigerated section, with the milk or B) on the Canned Goods aisle, since after all, it is canned. But noooooo! The correct answer is C) on the baby aisle next to the baby formula! WHA? Condensed milk with baby formula? No wonder our country has a problem with childhood obesity.
If you make candy, you probably use corn syrup, right? So when I needed to replenish my corn syrup supply, I naturally started looking on – you guessed it – the Miscellaneous Aisle! But Oh No! There is no corn syrup to be found there! Now let’s play Multiple Choice again – where does my grocery store keep the Karo Corn Syrup? You might guess, based on Exhibits A and B, that they keep it A) next to the canned corn or B) next to the fresh corn. But you would be wrong! It’s C) on the next aisle over, with the hot chocolate mix. Huh? I kid you not. The corn syrup is indeed next to the hot chocolate mix, as if to suggest that hot chocolate mix is not already loaded with corn syrup solids, and is in need of additional sweetening.
You serious bakers might want to sit down for this one. It’s just so ridiculous that I can hardly bear to write about it. Okay . . (deep breath) . . . for the first 3 years that I shopped in this store and others in the same chain, I was never able to find the Swan’s Down Cake Flour. I finally assumed they didn’t carry it. Now wouldn’t you assume that they’d put cake flour in a logical place? Like with the other kinds of flour? No, see, that would make too much sense. I started to wonder, based on the Exhibits A, B and C, if they put the cake flour with the flowers, because “flour” and “flower” are homophones. But then I realized that if they’re silly enough to put pickles and salad dressing on the same aisle as flour and sugar, then it’s doubtful that they would know what a homophone is. So, anyway, you want to know where they keep the Cake Flour? Oh my gosh, I am cringing as I write this . . . they keep it on the bottom shelf in the middle of . . . . the . . . .(writhing in pain) . . cake MIXES. Excuse me, Mr. Grocery Store Lay-out Person, cake flour is not a cake mix. How can you possible put something as lovely as cake flour amongst all the partial hydrogenation of the cake mixes? When I made this discovery, I was compelled to write a letter to the store’s headquarters, explaining that cake flour is not a mix, and people who buy cake flour expect it to be with the other flours, which is the place where it is found at every other grocery store in the universe! You know I got? Four months later, I got a letter which, by the way, displayed the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of a 1st grader, telling me that the cake flour sells better when they put it on the bottom shelf of the cake mix section. You know what I think? I think their pants are on fire, because simple logic dictates that people can’t buy the cake flour if they can’t find it.
And with that, I leave you Exhibit E:
ADDENDUM TO BAKING ISLE RANT: As of June 2016, my grocery store has moved the Swan’s Down Cake Flour CLOSER to the regular flour. It is no longer in the cake mix section (improvement!), but has been placed next to the packaged pizza dough mix (wha?) , which is much closer to the flour than the cake mixes are. I would expect that, by 2025, the Cake Flour will assume its rightful place next to the King Arthur and Gold Medal flour.