Thursday, November 8, 2007
David Byrne on the New English Muffin: "Same As It Ever Was"
Thomas’ English Muffins now come in sandwich size. This 40% bigger variation is new to me, if not new to the world. I bought two packs last night, thinking that the hamburger-sized loaves would revolutionize the way I eat. Well, they haven’t. I’m still making English Muffin pizzas with two slices of cheese, ketchup, basil, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. I’m still reluctant to microwave an English Muffin, reserving that desultoriness for extreme emergencies. Nay, the sandwich size English Muffin hasn’t done anything besides for deliver slightly more bread per serving, a boon, perhaps, to prison inmates and terror camp attendants, but not to someone like me, who could have bought a loaf of regular bread for the same price.
The pantheon of non-pizza pizzas, therefore, remains intact: first is the pizza bagel, followed by pizza on a pita, followed by matzo pizza (those who have never observed Passover might not concur), and then the English Muffin pizza. Pizza on toast, whole wheat bread, and hero sandwich round out the lineup. I was desperately hoping to unseat matzo pizza with sandwich size EM’s, but alas—the rankings are made of stronger stuff.
The apocryphal supermarket lore is that these places, which we take for benign providers of nourishment and non-perishable goods, are designed like casinos, in that their layout intentionally disorients the consumer. The purpose in a casino is obvious—the bewildered gambler is the screwed gambler. A supermarket, too, derives financial benefit from confused shoppers. Lost and dizzied by the intertwining aisles, one might purchase far too much food, or splurge for luxury items one did not intend to buy.
I paid no heed to this supposition before today, when I opened my freezer, seized the burgeoned muffins, stared at their freezer-streaked façade for a moment, and let out a string of profanity. I was duped. I was had. The supermarket tricked me into believing that these English Muffins were different, weaseled me into dropping an extra half-dollar per pack in the hopes of something better. I thought I was buying happiness, or at least the opportunity to eat in a way I never had, but all I got was a raw deal. Were the English Muffin pizzas still delicious this morning? Yup. Were they a little bit bigger than usual? No doubt. But they were sullied by the taint of capitalism.
In retrospect, I should have known this all along. I get weak and tired the moment I enter a supermarket, and I grow increasingly lethargic with each item I place in my cart. By the time I suffer through check-out, load the bags into the car, and unload them at home, I have to sit for a few minutes and recuperate. It takes 10 hours of blackjack to do what grocery shopping can do in 30 minutes. It takes a week of work and school to exact the punishment I endure during a trip through the produce section. Shopping leaves me debilitated, light-headed, and powerless, like a car battery that’s been on a cross-country road trip.
Once I get home, I muster what remains into a last-second English Muffin pizza Hail Mary. As I found this morning, my prayers usually aren’t answered.
Stay Stupefying, Supermarkets