Editor’s Letter: December 2011
By Laura Aiken
We’re about to ring in 2012. To say, “Where is the time going?” would be about as clichéd as I could get, but I can’t help it.
We’re about to ring in 2012. To say, “Where is the time going?” would be about as clichéd as I could get, but I can’t help it. Crossing into the next millennium can’t have been 12 years ago. If I had one complaint to air to the universe, it’s that the years are going by too fast. I’m sure my sentiment is widely shared. That being said, the passage of time allows us to look back, and from there, look ahead.
Our cover story looks at top 10 trends for the holidays. Our January/February buyers guide edition will also have a focus on bakery trends. This is our chance to look at where people’s preferences have been and where they’re going.
I always find the question of who sets the trends to be interesting. Who is really driving the bus when it comes to consumer preferences? In cake design, designers set the trends, often filtered through the media. But popularity becomes a people’s choice. In other facets of baking, government interests are arguably driving shifts towards lower-sodium and healthier products in the marketplace. Whether this pans out into sales is back in the people’s hands, where choices come more from willpower than from beauty, as they do with cakes. Willpower is a big theme of the holidays, right up there with family. We try not to spend too much, drink too much, or eat too much. But willpower is a funny thing. Studies have shown that the more we use it, the more it is worn down. So all that fighting to eat just a few sweets at party after party ultimately can lead us to eat an entire cake in our kitchen in the middle of the night. Willpower gets tired.
The tricky thing is sifting through what people actually want, as opposed to what they are told to want. I venture to say that, as humans, we don’t always know this difference for ourselves in many aspects of our lives. This is the conundrum of our willpower. Eating is no exception. As bakers, you probably even suffer from being torn between what you want to make for your customers and what they buy the most of. It’s a classic business-owners’ dilemma. Creative freedom can ultimately be driven and even curbed by the marketplace if you are in the business of making money. Few of us can afford to just do whatever we want.
Between the shoulds and shouldn’ts is the very dependable knowledge that we all want food that looks good, smells good, tastes good – these senses all being inextricably intertwined. We don’t just want it; we buy it. Let’s give thanks for this. If, all of a sudden, people put the desire for taste on par with all the other conflicting desires that drive them to buy food, things would get really confusing. Underscoring all trends is obviously how to make them taste great. If it doesn’t taste great, it was a better idea than a reality, and surely we’ve all begun a new year swearing off things that were better concepts than actualities.
Bakers Journal wishes you a wonderful, profitable and happy holiday season, the time of year where the baker in all of us yearns to shine. May your ideas be delicious, and may you have some fun with the top 10 trends.