Hello, fellow foodies! This week I’d like to talk about something that has been plaguing me for the last several years. It’s an issue that’s been underground, but more and more people are coming out and talking about it. It’s a real mystery and one that requires attention. I’m talking about pink pastry boxes. I’ve yet to see one outside of a Chinese bakery, yet it’s the ONLY kind you see on TV shows and in movies. Why? Why is the entertainment industry trying to create an alternate reality where these simple matters are concerned?
But before I get into that, I wanted to just say that my kumquatcello and kumquat salsas have been a huge hit. Woohoo! I’ve had many (many) experiments go awry, but this batch of experiments have turned out pretty well. If you’re just tuning it and want to know what all this talk of kumquats is about, click here and here.
Also, some time in June, I’m going to have my first guest blogger. Her name is Debby Maugans and she’s been a food writer/stylist/recipe developer for 25 years. I don’t know what she will be blogging about but I’m sure it will be great. I’ll give you more details later on.
Now, about those pink pastry boxes…
Have you ever noticed that whenever a character on a TV show or in a movie walks into a scene with a cake or a box of doughnuts that the box is always pink? I live in New York City and we have lots and lots and lots of pastry shops. Many are Italian, but some are Russian, Polish, Jewish, German, or Chinese. Except for the Chinese bakeries, I have never, ever encountered a pastry shop that uses pink boxes. Always, the boxes are white.
So, what’s up with the pink?
A few years ago, I began my investigation and discovered that pink pastry boxes seem to be common on the West Coast, particularly in California. So, is it a matter of regional preferences? After all, most TV shows and movies are shot in L.A. But not all. Numerous TV shows are shot in New York and many movies are filmed here. So, why do the pink boxes persist?
(Photo source: www.papermart.com)
My investigation led me to a thread on eGullet.com, where one poster noted that on the John Tesh radio show, she’d heard that people think pastries taste better when they come in a pink box. Which leads me to wonder, is there some kind of Pavlovian thing going on? Does the color pink automatically make people think “sweet”? And why is that? Why would pink symbolize something sugary and sweet? Sugar cane is not pink. Nor are sugar beets. Nor maple trees or beehives, or anything that produces a sweet substance. Is there a connection between that and the whole “pink is for girls” thing? You know, sugar and spice and everything nice? If I stare at a pink pastry box long enough, will I go into a diabetic coma?
Okay, enough of that. One smart guy on the eGullet thread, named Daniel Rogov, enlightens us. According to him, pink pastry boxes came about because during the reign of Louis XIV, a sign of success for a patisserie was a pink stamp, indicating royal license. Pastry shops throughout France then adopted pink to show their high status in that world. Interestingly, he also points out that during the French Revolution, the color pink came into disuse, “no one wanting to be associated in such a blatant way with royalty.”
Bless you, Daniel. Whether or not those are actually the origins of the pink pastry box, it gives me something to cling to. You see, I’m the type of person who loves to know how things got started—words, expressions, traditions. I have a need to know where they all began. I can sleep better now knowing that there is a rational, logical explanation for the pink pastry box.
I’m taking a cake decorating course in June. Perhaps I’ll pack one of my decorated cakes in a pink box and bring it to a friend’s house. I can pretend I’m a movie star shooting a scene for a film. Yeah, that’s it. My world is slowing taking on meaning.
If anyone wants to chime in on this, please do. This is an important topic and should not be ignored.
Okay, gang. Thanks for checking in. I’ll catch ya next week. Have a great one!
(Photo source: white pastry boxes: www.a-zpaper.com)