Friday, February 27, 2009

Tampering with tradition

Today I bought my first hot cross bun for this year. Easter doesn't seem close but Lent has started, so I figure I'm entitled to have a hot cross bun now. Even though they've been in the shops for weeks, I've resisted. It's unseemly how quickly hot cross buns flood into supermarkets after Christmas, as if the supermarket conglomerates and marketing whizzes can't wait for us to get over one festival before focusing on the next.

I love hot cross buns but I'm a stickler for tradition. Some plump sultanas and a hint of rich spice are what make hot cross buns special for me. But today I've discovered that the hot cross bun has undergone a dazzling makeover to bring it into the modern era. I was offered the choice of the "traditional" (how dowdy and dismissive that word sounds when used in this context), the chocolate chip version, or this year's new offering, the mocha hot cross bun.

Why? What marketing guru came up with this idea? If I want chocolate chips, I'll eat a biscuit. If I want coffee, I'll drink it. It may be old-fashioned but I can't see the point in tampering with traditional recipes just for the sake of it. There's nothing wrong with modernising or improving recipes but sometimes the quest for something new or different goes too far. The hot cross bun is not a plain bun, so why the need to cram more ingredients into it? Why not just develop a sweet mocha bun, rather than adding this flavouring to the humble hot cross bun?

Making changes to take account of modern ingredients and tastes is fine but I can't stand meddling for the sake of it. Is offering three types of hot cross buns part of capitalism's never-ending thirst for new, fresh ways to entice us to hand over our cash? Has our modern palate become so jaded that we need sensory overload to awaken it?


Pinky said...

I agree! Those choc-chip buns are way too sweet, anyway. The whole point of a hot cross bun is to smear a little butter on it and have a cup of strong tea.
The other thing to consider is that the hot cross bun is DEEPLY traditional, deeply religious in the Christian Catholic sense, and the adding of various flavours to the bun is a result of our modern distrust of religion, or maybe just disrespect of the old ways in general. Ask any person buying a choc chip HCB why the buns have a cross on top. You see my point.

Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Are you seriously telling us that someone is flavouring hot cross buns with choc+coffee? Noooooooooooo!

Melinda said...

Duncan, sad but true. I love chocolate and coffee but definitely not mixed into my hot cross bun!
Well said, Pinky. I didn't raise the religious traditions regarding hot cross buns but you are spot on. I'm not sure whether it's distrust of, or disrespect to, these traditions or just general ignorance. If you don't know the history surrounding hot cross buns, then you probably don't care what it's flavoured with.