November 25, 2020
Mom called yesterday to tell me she had been thinking about me. Even though she has been quarantined since last March she has learned to use the technology that keeps most of us connected. One of these is to order her groceries online. She has arranged to pick up Thanksgiving dinner from the kitchen at her retirement community. The complete turkey dinner did not include desert. Instead she ordered a four-inch pumpkin pie to be delivered from the grocery’s bakery. When it arrived, she was amazed how small a four-inch pie was. She and my sister in law were planning on splitting the pie. She said it would not provide more than a couple of bites each.
My mom loves to tell the story of my being given a piece of wedding cake when I was a small boy. We lived next to the church and after a wedding the mother of the bride was kind enough to bring a piece of cake over to the house for me. She proudly gave me the cake and waited for my thank you. Instead she got, “Huh, looks big enough for a mouse, if he is not hungry.” I am sure my mom was mortified, but it is still retold as one of her favorite stories of me as a child.
Mom’s pie reminded me of my own experience at the bakery. I have noticed small Italian Wedding Cakes in our market’s bakery. These are only about 4 inches wide and 8 inches long, and two layers high. They are covered in the cream cheese frosting and nuts that I love so well. When I told this to Melissa, she encouraged me to buy one, along with her favorite, frozen Pepperidge Farms Apple Turnovers. I looked at the cake for a long time before moving on. I realized I would only eat a small slice and then freeze the rest for later. The black hole I call my freezer would have kept it a long time. Then I would have thrown out the freezer burned remains. I bought a tiny pecan pie instead.
Thoughts: I have noticed the markets are starting to package deserts in smaller servings or single pieces. This began prior to the shortage caused by the pandemic but has increased during the last year. While I used to readily find 16- and even 18-inch pies, now the 4- or 6-inch pies purchased by mom are more prevalent. It seems marketers are finally realizing the large families and appetites required to take down the larger offering are no longer as common. The single servings most seem to want would satisfy, and not produce the waste. Or perhaps they realize they can make a big cake, cut it into ten pieces, and sell each piece at a markup. I admit, the three-inch pecan pie is not quite big enough for a hungry mouse. At least there will be no waste. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.