Product Review! FUN da-Middles: when bad branding happens to good cake.


Grocery shopping has become something of an effort, and yet we go to the market at least three times a week; it’s just our favorite place. Our local Hannaford has a nice stockpile of buggy carts that seat two up front, making them one of our easier jaunt destinations.  Like every other constant in our lives, Billy the Kid has developed a strict grocery shopping routine with specific checkpoints which, if met, maintain his cheery disposition and obedience. Apple selection, flower sniffing, cheese slice sampling, meat patting and check-out candy display perusal seem an appropriate trade for a well-tempered public toddler.

A new item has snuck into the ritual grocery checklist over the past few months. As the girls approach the walking stage, I have less time to bake from scratch with BK, so a while back I started letting him choose a mix from the baking aisle every now and then. A few weeks ago I made a huge mistake that didn’t even register until the next time we went to the market; I had authorized mix selection on two consecutive trips, thereby silently acknowledging that this is now something we do. So I’ve spent the last month reviewing all of Betty Crocker’s, Pilsbury’s, Ghiradelli’s and Krusteaz’s confections.

I was exceptionally not excited when BK selected a product with one of the most forced and infuriating excretions of marketing drivel I’ve ever seen. First of all, what exactly is FUN da-Middles trying to do with “fundamental?” Is there anything fundamental about a chocolate cupcake housing a melted glob of marshmallow fluff? Awesome, absolutely. But really, fundamental? What troubles me more, however, is the single dash between “FUN” and “Middles.” It causes the “da” to seem more like a “the,” but then “FIND” seems more appropriate than “FUN.” I feel a little bad for FUN, all alone while the other letters are working on some sort of performance piece together. Combine that with the seizure inducing punctuation tantrum that’s going on, and I did not want to like this. Not one bit.

But I did. Even more than did Billy the Kid. I appreciate that the package omits frosting, since the middle makes up for it in sugar content, and I was surprised that the cake itself didn’t have that super-sweet, chemical undertone that even some of the chicest mixes can’t elude. And the yield was twelve cupcakes exactly. No waste, no batter dinner, no guilt.

I will continue to purchase your wares, FUN da-Middles subdivision, but I will malign you even as I follow your three easy steps, and I will mock you even as I enjoy your delicious and reasonably-sized cupcakes. I’d be tempted to take my concern all the way to Ms. Crocker herself, were she an actual person. There really is no excuse, and I’d like to see every attendee of the product naming meeting receive a good thrashing for their failed bravado and crimes against letters.

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