Kim Penstone

Who said muffins are healthy?

2005-05-18 13:31

Now that yoghurt advertising has put me off my usual breakfast, I find myself in a dilemma. My cupboards are bare, my stomach is empty, and while coffee still gives me a fabulous kickstart, it tends to make me kinda fainty and shaky (not to mention jumpy) when I imbibe on an empty stomach (I'm still a beginner, see?).

So it's almost 10:00 and I need food, if only so I can drink coffee.

Desperate and cranky, I know I can't face the fierce trolley-wielding moms at Pick 'n Pay so I head off to my local garage shop.

My efforts are rewarded - the blueberry muffins have just emerged from the oven. They're piping hot, doughy on the inside and crispy on the outside, just the way I like them. Naturally, because I'm shopping on an empty stomach, I buy two.

I eat one on the way home - I'm sure I absorb less calories in the car (my other half will tell you it's because half of the food ends up on the floor...) - and save the other to accompany my eagerly-anticipated first cup of coffee.

On arriving home, I delve into the freezer for the beans, grind 'em and cook 'em.

Not a minute later, I take my first sip of the god's real nectar. And suddenly, I'm hit by a very unwelcome thought:

'Nothing more than a piece of cake'

"It's cake! This muffin is nothing more than a piece of cake, cunningly disguised as a healthy breakfast food!"

(Coffee does actually make my brain work, I promise)

It's true. Think about it. How do you make a muffin? Flour, egg, sugar and butter. Or, if you're like me, ready mix and a lot of oil. Neither is particularly healthy. Let's face it, this isn't a fat-free bran muffin that helps keep you regular, is it?

And those blueberries. Sure, it's fruit, and fruit is good for you, but it's not like it's pawpaw or melon, for gawd's sake!

So, here I am, indulging in not one, but two, pieces of cake - for breakfast!

And that's what I call marketing.

One day, it's a cup cake (or, if you're from my generation, a fairy cake), the next it's a muffin.

Cup cakes are for children's parties, a sweet treat that's acknowledged (even in its name) to be a small version of cake. Muffins, on the other hand, are for adult breakfasts, believed to be the healthy alternative to the tempting custard danish (a belief that, bizarrely enough, seems to hold even when that muffin is double choccocino chip!)

My hat's off to those masters of marketing who came up with this particular ruse (and again, to those masters of the universe who invented caffeine and made my world so much clearer).

Personally, I think the proper authorities should place a restriction on the word "muffin", only allowing it to be used for those appropriately-healthy, cardboard-flavoured, bran-filled versions.

The rest, those filled with blueberries, and toffee, and double chocolate chips, should have to find their own, new name, something that better indicates their real nutritional value to those of us for whom previous ignorance was breakfast bliss.

Failing that, I'm calling for health warnings. You know the kind they put on cigarette packs; it could say something to the effect of: "Hey, idiot! This may look like breakfast, it may even contain a smidgen of bran (although that's not guaranteed). But it's actually pudding. It's a small cake. It's even got chocolate chips. Duh!"

  • Kim Penstone still eats blueberry muffins, just not for breakfast (unless it's a coffee emergency).

  • If you're interested in the more serious side of advertising and marketing, go to www.marketingweb.co.za

  • Send your comments to Kim or discuss this column now in our debating forum.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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