That Sugar Cost How Much?!

29 Jan
Expensive Ingredients don't make you a better cook.  They make you poor.

Expensive Ingredients don't make you a better cook. They make you poor.

Do you guys see those little puzzle pieces?  Cool, huh?  They’re pressed from either refined white, demerara or light brown sugar.  The product is called Puzzles de Sucre.  It is French and is produced by Can a Suc, whose tag line is “Le charme de l’instant cafe.”  Roughly translated, “the charm of instant coffee.”  Hmmm.  I’m sure they really don’t want us to put their little puzzle pieces into a cup o’Nescafe, but what do I know?  And by the way, the box weighs 8.8 oz, including the ton of packaging to keep the sugar pieces from even minute shifts that could result in Puzzle Damage (dam-AHHJZ).  The price, you ask?  Ahem, THIRTY US DOLLARS! Friends, I can buy a 50 pound sack of sugar for less than that and have sucre en mon café pour le reste de ma vie!

Fancy French Sugar

Fancy French Sugar

And why, then, oh Jen, do you own this product?  It was a housewarming gift from my friend Jennifer.  She presented it to me saying, “First of all, this costs THIRTY DOLLARS full price.  Can you believe that?!  I got it on big fat sale, because there’s no effing way I would ever spend thirty dollars on sugar.  I just thought you’d appreciate it.”  She is a true friend, indeed.  We put our puzzle pieces into our tea, which incidentally costs about 1/10 of what the sugar cost, and laughed and chatted and had a delightful visit.

Aside from the cool-ness factor, there is no need to ever, ever, ever spend $30 on sugar cubes.  While my gift, purchased on big old sale makes me happy, there are plenty of similar items out there produced, not because these ingredients or gadgets will make your food any better or make you a better cook, but because the manufacturers are interested in separating you from your money.  Please don’t let this happen to you.  I admit, a splurge every once in awhile is good for the soul, but, people.  Most of the time, just say no.

I have, for your amusement and edification, compiled a list of Extremely Overpriced Kitchen Items.  Do enjoy.  Don’t buy.  I am linking to the page where you can find each one, just so you can read the marketing hype with your own little discerning eyes.  But, I repeat, do NOT buy.  And no, I wouldn’t get a cut, even if you did!

1.  From our friends at Williams Sonoma, I give you  Acetaia Malpighi Tradizionale Vinegar 3.38 oz for $175.  At least the sugar puzzle pieces were cheaper than that!  Don’t get me wrong, I love balsamic vinegar, but this stuff is so rarefied that I would never be able to justify its use.  It would just sit on a shelf, not fulfilling its purpose of being vinegar.  It would just be a decoration in the house.   For a reasonably priced treat, caramelize 1 cup of sugar and add 1 cup of regular old balsamic.  Reduce to a syrup.  Fantastic!

2. From Sur La Table:  Rosemary Standard Topiary for the low, low price of $49.95.  People, it’s a plant.  Buy it at Lowe’s.  I think mine cost $10, and it’s indestructable.

3.  Again, from Sur La Table:  Damman Freres Loose Tea Coffret 1825 Sampler at cough-wheeze-gasp $150.  I’m sorry, maybe I’m a cretin, but did I mention that my box of tea cost $3?!

4. Thank you, King Arthur Flour Company, for the Hearts and Flowers Shortbread Mold and for only charging us $34.95 plus shipping and handling.  While this might make pretty shortbread, you’d have to make quite a bit of it before you’ve broken even.  I say “pat into a circle, roll with a rolling pin, prick with a fork, done.”

5.  This one made me laugh out loud.  Sur La Table wants us to purchase Simple Syrup Drink Mix at $5.95 for a 12 oz. bottle!  Ha!  Hello, simple syrup:  1 part sugar, 1 part water, bring to a boil, done.  I must quote you a part:  “It’s so much better and easier than making simple syrup on your own.”  Oh, and it’s sold under the “Beverage Mixers & Elixers” category.  Please, we’re not trying to grow our hair out, we just want a mojito!

6.  I’m so happy that this is my topic today.  Oh, the wonders to be had out on the Hinternets.  The good folks at FinerKitchens dot commmmm don’t think that you can peel an apple.  In fact, they would like you to purchase their handy Kali Apple Peeler for $399.95.  Yes, you read that correctly.  If you’re opening a pie shop, go for it.  If you just want to bake a pie, please just skip this.  Please.

I can’t take anymore of this, I don’t think.  My sides hurt.  Shop thoughtfully: buy what you need and what you will use on a regular basis.  And above all, understand that to a large extent, the caliber of your cooking depends on the quality of your ingredients and on your skill as a cook, not on the size of your wallet.

10 Responses to “That Sugar Cost How Much?!”

  1. Donna January 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    I hope Jennifer got that sugar at a really rock bottom price!!

  2. Drew Kime January 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    Okay, that sugar is officially cool. No, I’m not buying it, but it’s still cool. Although … I’ve spent $50 on a dinner that I could have made for myself for under $10. You’re paying for the entertainment value of it.

    The simple syrup, though, there’s no excuse for. I noticed it at the liquor store a while back, and it cost more than some of the cheaper rum. Guess it’s true that people will buy anything.

  3. Jennifer January 29, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    Hello there- I am Jennifer (who bought the puzzle sugar)and this is the first ever blog-anything that I have done… but I felt compelled to reply to Donna. I paid $9.99 + tax, which is the cost of 1 movie ticket. I dare say it has been more entertaining than most movies I’ve seen this year; even before the amusing blog! So it was soooo worth it! But most people do not have friends that take amusement to the extreme as mine do… so I am in total agreement with Jenni… save your money.

  4. Chris January 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    The scary thing is that, in order for the manufacturers to deem this profitable, there must be some market for these superfluous gadgets. Several studies have shown that most people link higher price with better taste; e.g. two identical bottles of wine are given different made up prices and the more expensive one wins out in a blind taste test. Maybe I should pretend that my morning oatmeal costs me $4.00 (actually, Starbucks comes close with their new $2.50+tax mini-cup of gruel).

  5. PJ Hamel January 30, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Interesting, you really don’t NEED anything for baking except a bowl, a spoon, an oven, and good ingredients. Yet we sell all manner of “kitchen toys” – I believe it’s the entertainment value, and the desire to play with gear. Baking is no longer a vocation for most, but an avocation, like woodworking or fly fishing or crafting (all of which also seem to be “stuff-heavy.”) To each his own, eh? Thanks, I enjoyed reading this. PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour baker/blogger

  6. Daily Spud January 30, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    My word, an apple peeler for $399.95?? I could set about planting my own little apple orchard for that! Not only that but I went to the FinerKitchens page and I see that the quoted retail price is $620, so I’d be, er, saving $220.05 if I bought it. It’s a bargain, clearly 🙂 Must stop laughing now!

  7. Will January 31, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Hilarious. You could start a blog entirely devoted to outrageous, useless cooking schwag.

  8. Chloe Chandless February 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Just so that you know,
    Le charme de l’instant cafe
    Does NOT mean the charm of instant coffee but the charm of coffee moments.

  9. Beth February 7, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    Absolutely wonderful post. One of the above comments is right – you could indeed do an entire blog on the ridiculous stuff out there devised and contrived in order to bamboozle consumers.


  1. Simple Syrup Really IS Simple « Pastry Methods and Techniques - February 5, 2009

    […] that post a few days ago about the Puzzle Sugar?  I listed a bunch of over-priced items that you could either make yourself or get for a lot […]

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