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蛋糕预拌粉:美国人厨房必备品

更新时间:2017-11-16 19:50:23 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why cake mix lacks one essential ingredient
蛋糕预拌粉:美国人厨房必备品

The boxed cake mix has become a kitchen cupboard standby, relied upon for birthdays, special occasions, and even a lazy-day dessert in many homes.

今天,蛋糕预拌粉已经成了厨房里不可或缺的东西。无论生日宴会还是特别纪念日,甚至悠闲假期里的甜点派对都离不开这种产品。

In 2016, more than 60 million more Americans used mixes to make cakes than used cake flour. The homemade cake may be a bit of an endangered species. But cake mix was not an instant hit – as food companies found out when they first came upon the idea.

2016年,用蛋糕预拌粉制作蛋糕的美国人比用面粉的要多6000余万人。纯手工在家里从零开始制作蛋糕已经很少见了。然而,蛋糕预拌粉并没有在刚刚推出就一炮打响,获得成功。

In the 1920s, fewer and fewer people were baking bread at home, says Laura Shapiro, a historian and author of Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America. Flour companies were feeling anxious about the trend, which came in part from the growing availability of commercial bakery goods. Also, surplus molasses was on the minds of the folks at the P Duff and Sons Company.

历史学家、《烘焙时代:1950年代美国厨房革命》(Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America)一书作者劳拉·莎皮若(Laura Shapiro)说,1920年代,在商业化烘焙产品的不断涌现的促进下,在家烤制面包的人开始不断减少,很多面粉企业对这一趋势忧心忡忡。P Duff and Sons公司就曾经打算增加糖浆用量以吸引顾客。

They hit on a solution in the form of a powdered mix containing 50-50 flour and dried molasses, with dried eggs and a few other ingredients. Just add water, and a home baker could whip up a quick gingerbread. The first mix, sold in a can, not a box, came on the market in 1929, followed by a few other flavours. “The company worked up the idea of spice cakes,” says Shapiro. “They had a little run of cake mixes.”

他们推出的一种蛋糕预拌粉包括等量的面粉和干糖浆粉,此外还有鸡蛋粉和少量其他配料。只需加入水,把混合物放入普通家用烤箱就可迅速制成姜饼蛋糕。最早一批产品于1929年问世,采用罐头包装,而非现在常见的纸盒包装。后来该公司还推出了其他口味的产品。"公司当时专注于加了香料的蛋糕,"莎皮若说。"蛋糕预拌粉的品种很少。"

After World War Two, the idea began to take off. “General Mills, Pillsbury, they start thinking about cake mixes to sell more flour,” says Shapiro. “By the 1950s, these two companies are battling it out.” Hundreds of small companies got into the business as well, though most were either bought by one of the bigger players or went bust. New flavours – fudge cake, white cake – became available. People bought the mixes. At least, some people bought the mixes. The sales numbers gradually plateaued. Most home cooks were still making their cakes from scratch, and the product had reached everyone it was going to reach.

二次大战后,蛋糕预拌粉市场开始起飞。"通用磨坊(General Mills)和皮尔斯伯里(Pillsbury)都开始考虑销售蛋糕预拌粉,从而增加面粉的销量,"莎皮若说。"1950年代,这两家公司在这一市场你争我夺。"另外,还有数百家小公司也投身这一市场。后来,这些小公司要么被大公司收购,要么以破产告终。市场上出现了新的蛋糕口味-巧克力蛋糕和白蛋糕等应运而生。人们开始购买蛋糕预拌粉,但是并非所有人都对这种新产品情有独钟。产品销量增长很快陷入停滞。大多数人仍然在家从零开始制作蛋糕,蛋糕预拌粉的目标市场已经出现了饱和。

What had happened? First of all, the bar set for cake mixes was very, very high, says Shapiro. The cake had to be perfect – that was part of the deal with the consumer. Because “the cake is the thing that comes from the heart,” she says, “something you made because you loved someone else.” It was an endeavour, a love poem, an act of faith, and “if you blew it, it was obvious. There are a lot of things you can cover up with mayonnaise. But not a cake.” If a product failed to deliver on the promise of perfection, and many of these new mixes may have, a baker would not be buying it again.

其中原因何在?莎皮若说,首先,厂家给蛋糕预拌粉这种产品设立的标准太高。作为对消费者的承诺,做出来的蛋糕必须完美无缺,即所谓"蛋糕是真心真意的产物,"她说,"只有你喜爱别人才会给他做蛋糕。"这是一次历险,一首情诗,一个信念,"你要是没做对搞砸了的话,是掩饰不了的。用蛋黄酱能盖住很多食品,但是蛋糕不行。"如果做出来的蛋糕没有达到完美的标准(事实也的确如此),家庭烘焙师们就不会再掏钱购买。

Another, bigger problem was also emotional in nature. And it was hard to see a way around it. “If you made it from a box, it didn't count. Getting it from someone else was cheating. People felt it in a million different ways,” Shapiro says. Even if some people had decided any cake was better than no cake, the persistent sense that something soulless about cake from a box kept many others from embracing it. The flour companies had a product with significant cultural marks against it, and stagnant growth.

另一个更严重的问题同样富于情感化,并且还看不到如何去解决的途径。"用盒子里的一堆粉末做蛋糕不是正道。把这种蛋糕送给别人就是欺骗他人的感情。人们对此会有成千上万种看法,"莎皮若说。即便这种蛋糕聊胜于无,但是人们普遍认为,来自盒子的蛋糕毫无感情和灵魂。这种看法会让消费者望而却步。产品戴上了一个消极文化符号后,销售陷入停滞也就可想而知了。

As they tried to work through this, a man named Ernest Dichter came into the picture. He was a psychologist and marketing consultant, now known as one of the founders of modern consumer behaviour studies and a pioneer of focus groups. Dichter told the cake companies the answer was to take the eggs out of the mix and put them back into the hands of the baker. The problem was that the women who were making the cakes didn't feel emotionally invested enough just adding water, he said. Eggs would make it feel more like baking.

当所有人都对此一筹莫展时,一位名叫厄尼斯特·迪赫特(Ernest Dichter)的人出现了。作为心理学家兼市场营销顾问(目前公认的现代消费者行为研究创始人及专业研究先驱者),迪赫特建议蛋糕公司把鸡蛋从配方中去除,让家庭烘焙师们自己打鸡蛋。如果只需在配料中加水,做蛋糕的家庭妇女就没有获得真正的参与感,而自己加鸡蛋则会加强这种感受。

In later years, many would portray this as a pivotal moment in the history of cake mixes, the inflection point of a dramatic upward curve.

后人将此看作是蛋糕预拌粉发展史上的转折点,曲线转势向上的起点。

The truth is, though, that the cake companies already knew about the egg problem. In fact, as early as 1933 Duff had introduced a mix that had bakers add eggs themselves. “The housewife and the purchasing public in general seem to prefer fresh eggs and hence the use of dried or powdered eggs is somewhat of a handicap from a psychological standpoint,” reads the patent application (read more on Duff's cake patents in this lovely Bon Appetit story about cake mix). And actually, the mixes worked better that way. “The fact was one of the reasons cake mixes didn't taste good was they tasted like dried eggs,” says Shapiro. The companies performed surveys and asked women which version they would buy – the results were contradictory – and in the end, they just did as they pleased. General Mills went over to fresh eggs. Pillsbury eventually followed.

然而,蛋糕公司其实早已知道鸡蛋带来的问题。早在1933年,Duff公司就曾推出让消费者自己加鸡蛋的产品。"家庭主妇和公众们喜欢用新鲜鸡蛋,因此从心理学上讲,干制鸡蛋或鸡蛋粉只会带来二流体验,"专利申请书如此写道。另外,单独加鸡蛋的配方味道更好。"导致蛋糕预拌粉制作的蛋糕味道不好的原因之一就是用了鸡蛋粉,"莎皮若说。各家公司进行了调查,询问主妇们它们喜欢购买哪些产品(调查结果和当初的设想相反),然后就去生产受到消费者喜爱的产品。通用磨坊首先选用新鲜鸡蛋,皮尔斯伯里紧随其后。

The cake mix did take over after all, to Shapiro's chagrin. A from-scratch baker herself, she recounts meeting a group of home bakers from the American Midwest while she was doing research on Betty Crocker. When she finished her talk and opened the floor to questions, spectators got up and spoke one by one almost reverently about their first encounter with cake mix. “It was like these confessionals,” she recalls, a strange experience in a part of the country known for serious home baking.

蛋糕预拌粉最终在市场上取得了成功。作为同样一个从零学起的业余烘焙师,莎皮若在研究Betty Crocker这一美国文化符号时,曾经在美国中西部采访过众多家庭主妇。当她自己做完演讲开始自由交流时,主妇们纷纷站起来,带着几分崇敬的语气谈起第一次使用蛋糕预拌粉时的情景。"好像是教堂里的忏悔室,"她回忆说。这是她在以重视家庭烘焙著称的中西部地区遇到的一种奇特体验。

But the eggs may only have been part of cake mix's success. “I think it was frosting,” she says. When premade frosting and elaborate decorations came in, turning focus away from the substance of the cake, and onto its exterior, that may have really given the idea legs. We all want to have a way to demonstrate our love, and frosting – as a way turn a simple cake into a castle, a football field, a church – brought that. “And that, I think, is what changed the fate of cake mixes,” she says.

鸡蛋只不过是蛋糕预拌粉取得市场成功的一个因素。"除此之外还有糖霜,"她说。食品公司引入了预制糖霜和复杂的装饰料,把人们的关注点从蛋糕本身延伸到了它的外观,加速了产品流行的步伐。我们都希望通过某种方式展示我们的情感,能把一块普通的蛋糕装点成城堡、橄榄球场、教堂的糖霜就成了一件优秀的工具。"我认为,糖霜是改变蛋糕预拌粉命运的关键因素,"她说。

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