This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Two

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[Ideas welcome, and we will credit you: mark@markbittman.com]

Hard to believe: McCormick, who’s brought us spices since its inception in the late 19th century (though I suspect the quality was considerably higher then) has a new bad idea: Recipe Inspirations.

What is this? A recipe card with a not-especially-great-sounding recipe – like Shrimp Pasta Primavera – with ¼ ounce of spices, pre-measured and bubble-packed individually, so that you can be “inspired” to cook dinner, and not bother to buy or store or measure spices. For a mere two bucks. Of course, you probably have at least three of these spices already – in this case garlic, onion, and black pepper – and you can buy what’s probably a year’s supply of higher quality versions of the other two for less than four dollars at someplace like Penzey’s. Or a supermarket.

If buying this item saved you a shopping trip, it might make some sense. But of course it doesn’t; the McCormick’s recipe – and the “inspiration” is really good for nothing else, unless by coincidence you found a different recipe that called for the same amounts – calls for cream, Parmesan, stock, and a variety of vegetables. Oh, and shrimp. I rarely have all of these in the house at the same time, and I doubt you do either.

Plus, what if you should want more – or, heaven forbid, fresh – garlic?

This idea is such a loser it’s almost unfair to point it out. Off the shelves within a year, I bet.

Posted in Spices

14 Comments

  1. Cynthia Kapela said...

    I noticed these at the store the other day and GROANED. This is right on par with the packets of "Taco Seasoning Mix" that my Mother insisted on using for YEARS until I introduced her to the idea of actually seasoning meat herself.

  2. Anonymous said...

    YES!! YES!! YES!! I could not agree more. When I saw this in the store I gaped – yes gaped. Not only am I opposed to the whole general idea, but I am DISGUSTED by the wasteful packaging. Bad, bad, McCormick! No, no!

  3. clotildenet said...

    And all that plastic going in the landfill, too!

  4. Blork said...

    Ha! That is so lame. It reminds me of something I used to see in one of the "high end" stores around Montreal, one of those places that cater to spoiled brats; it was a beautifully packaged "Pad Thai" kit for one, containing about an ounce of rice noodes, 1/4 tsp. of crushed chiles, a spoonful of oil, a spoonful of chopped peanuts, and about 1/4 cup of murky brown sauce, all in individual packets. The price? $12. TWELVE DOLLARS! Twelve dollars for thirty cents worth of food in a $5 bag. And that’s for a pad thai with no shrimp, no egg, no sprouts, no lime, no cilantro, and an undefined sauce. In other words, a splotch. Who buys these things?

  5. Anonymous said...

    I for one would love to see spices available in much smaller packages. I’m guilty of keeping dried herbs and spices waaaay past their prime. How many of you throw away "old" spice?

  6. Blork said...

    @Daphne Lathouras: that’s a different issue. The issue here is ridiculously small quantities that are over-packaged and bundled with lame recipes.Personally, I buy my spices in bulk (which means I can buy as much or as little as I need) from a reputable and high-turnover spice store.

  7. CharlottePrep89 said...

    Is this really all that bad? Ok, there are cheaper and (probably) better spices out there. Maybe one could consider it the lunchables of spices but at least it is, in some small way perhaps, encouraging people to cook fresh food at home. That has got to be better than buying some kind of processed crap in the frozen food section, no? And no, I don’t use them. I prefer to season my pastured, grass fed meats and sustainable seafood using fresh herbs whenever possible. My kids even drink raw milk, really. Maybe we should save our outrage for the people still in the fast food drive thru line. And for school lunches. Now that’s the kind of #$@^%!! that has got to stop. Baby steps, people!

  8. Ravey Ravey said...

    Well I wish I could be so passionate about "spices." But, America is built on corporate consumption in the masses.This is another way to get a buck out of a pretty package and false concern for the public.You know the executives at McCormick got out their EXCEL Sheets and calculated the costs with the marketing managers and came up with a "Way to Inspire" people to cook!In all it looks good, it seems good, but is it good? (It’s a marketing faux pas "fopa" on this new cooking/healthy living wave.)And it’s stupid, not because of the recipe and little "boxes," but because of McCormick’s stupid thought of it being inspiring. I say it’s not good unless you put High Fructose Corn Syrup in the recipe…"Oh wait that executive blunder has already come and gone."Just another marketing way to get people to spend their dollars in a over corporate SIZED America. (FAT)Lifestyle changes do NOT happen in little boxes of spice. As long as there is McDonald’s, they ain’t cooken!Which reminds me, Thank you Daphne Lathouras , I need to throw out my OLD spices. Emerald says to through them out every 6 months.

  9. Anonymous said...

    Only throw out the ground ones (or use them – the "sweet" ones – as a simmering potpourri). The whole ones will last a year (in my humble opinion).

  10. Dr Ringo Pharm D said...

    why are they allowed to sell ground saw dust and call it food? @bitman has it right

  11. Anonymous said...

    I get my spices at the Indian store. Cheap as all get out, fresh, and no gimmicks.

  12. ap269 said...

    LOL, this is hilarious! This idea cracks me up!

  13. blakekahan said...

    Ack. I wanted to kick down the McCormick display at the local Safeway. This is just so sad, stupid, gimmicky and insulting. A definite new low. ….Tiny little "but" here, though: after a full-throated ranting to the husband over dinner about this abomination, I did have to grudgingly admit that, yes, at least people would appear to have to COOK in order to use these blister-packs of dust. As opposed to heat-and-eat. Yes, they are probably getting a poor idea of what the flavors should taste like, but perhaps this would be "gateway cooking." Might lead to more dangerous, interesting cooking activities. Steep price to pay, though.

  14. Juli Walters said...

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Mark. I have said this before but anything that gets someone to pull out a pan rather than hit the drive thru is a good idea. Sure it is not for you or for me but a novice who is terrified of the stove and has no spices in the pantry like my daughter could buy this pack, make this dish easily enough for her daughter and be inspired to try something more. At least it seems to expose them to identify actual spices rather than a mystery pack. I think it is great.

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