English muffins often split into two unequal parts, and then fall apart in the process. Don't you hate that with an unreasonable, all-consuming fury?
Rejoice. There have been some remarkable developments in English muffin technology lately. The other day, I bought the brand that met my exact criteria — it was on sale — and only later, when I examined the package, did I see these three compelling words:
"Now splits easier."
I'll be the judge of that, I thought, having dealt with split-resistant English muffins my entire adult life. Turns out it did indeed separate with less difficulty, and life was now incrementally better.
There are lessons here both heartening and concerning. Let's begin with the obvious: It is quite apparent that they knew their English muffins had a difficult split factor. I don't mean you had to get out the Jaws of Life, or jam a chisel in the groove and hammer the thing open like a fossilized clam, but the sundering of the muffin was messy and often led to broken halves. I had come to expect this as part of the Muffin Experience, but the fact that they were working on solving it actually makes me a bit irritated: All these years they knew, and they said nothing?
They might respond, "We couldn't admit it. The entire Muffin-Industrial Sector would have known we were working on solving the problem. Our only hope was to work in secret and be first to market with the solution. Can you forgive us?"
I can, and do. Are you working on the problem of unequal halves? (Phone line goes dead.)
The other innovation concerns the resealable package. There are two brands, and they both come in trays that present the muffins arrayed in three pairs. The dominant paradigm had the bags cinched at the end, as with most bread. But Bays brand has introduced a new package that opens on the top and reseals with a light adhesive somewhere between a Post-it note and linty Scotch tape.
As a novelty addled consumer, I was eager to try it. I had my doubts. I've dealt with many "resealable" containers that rely on vague adhesives. It's popular with lunch meats. I don't trust any of them. But we'll see. I set a reminder on my phone: Check freshness of English muffins in three days.
One day into the experiment, I looked at the bag. It had been ripped open on the end. Did the dog do this? The dog did not do this. That left either my wife or poltergeists. I rolled the dice and confronted my wife.
"Did you open this bag of English muffins on the end?"
"I ... I opened the bag of English muffins, yes."
I showed her the resealable top flap. "The paradigm has changed."
Her contrition was not as profound as I had expected. I pressed on. "Did you not see the top flap? The package plainly and, quite frankly, obviously states that this is new. It is also improved."
She apologized for not realizing that the world of muffin containment had been redefined while she was busy living a busy, complete life full of purpose, and we left it at that. I fumed a bit, because now the bag was open in two places and would turn the English muffins into rock-hard pucks in half the time. But no, that was OK. This was for science.
It turns out neither of us eats an English muffin other than on weekends, so I didn't notice they were stale and dead by Friday. Not entirely inedible; the thing about English muffins is that they come pre-stale for your convenience. They're like fresh day-old bread.
Here's the conundrum: One brand has the new flap-aperture for freshness. The other brand splits easier. You rage to the heavens: "Cannot we combine these innovations into a single, Platonic idea of breakfast bread? Must we scatter our genius, instead of concentrating on perfecting the English muffin experience?"
Then I hit upon the solution. Buy the easily-split variety and put them in the top-flap box.
There was one problem: English muffins are curiously expensive. I don't know why. Despite their name, they're not imported. Besides, as noted, I buy the brand that is on sale, usually saving a whole 30 cents. But my new plan called for buying two packages, regardless of which one was on sale. That meant spending $6.25 for six muffins, two of which we will eat. That's $3.12 per muffin.
As it turned out, I had a bagel with jam for breakfast on the weekend, because I was tired of English muffins. I don't know why I bought the muffins in the first place.
Probably because I was sick of bagels. They're precut, but they always hang up around the hole, the two parts sticking together. Don't you hate that?
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