"Can Starbucks Do for the Croissant What it Did for Coffee?" by Corby Kummer
This piece published in the Smithsonian in 2013 was a really interesting read for me, and that was mostly because I worked at Starbucks during the La Boulange rollout, so I was really intrigued to see the way that it was thought of from the pastry makers and owners' perceptions, in comparison to how I saw the changes as they hit my store.
Read the piece yourself here, and then scroll down with me to learn a bit from the awesome writing used to convey just how Starbucks carrying pastries might change the pastry & coffee world! Or, just read the piece, because it's pretty great (and teaches you a lot about the Starbucks changes!)
So, how did this piece really succeed? Let's learn about writing about food and the food industry!
It makes your mouth water.
Writing about food isn't as easy as you think. You have to spend the right amount of time describing the details of the food, but you also have to hold back to prevent it from becoming too frustrating to read, without enough satisfaction.
I think the author here did this fantastically: maybe it's just because I've taste tested every single pastry at Starbucks (part of the requirement when we implemented the line) but my mouth watered when he talked about warming the croissants, not only because I know what the new Starbucks croissants taste like, but also because I know what a good croissant tastes like, and what a bad one tastes like.
For instance, check out this section, which goes into thorough detail:
And the pastry case! Shapely croissants, burnished square pains au chocolat, flaky half-moon apple turnoversblue with crimp lines incised on the rounded edge, pastel-colored button macarons, irresistibly rustic with coarse-ground almond meal to give shells texture. (I know people who drive 90 minutes each way just for a box of lemon macarons with lemon-curd filling.) There was even my own favorite—chouquettes, hollow cream-puff shells baked until crisp on the outside but like a popover within, sprinkled with big rock-sugar crystals that crunch wonderfully in the mouth.
And then compare it to a section where the industry and the process becomes more important than the food itself:
After the first fold, Gonzaga transfers the dough onto a huge work table and leads several workers bearing long plastic rolling pins in what looks like a wild medieval flogging, to be sure that the nearly frozen butter spreads evenly and doesn’t “break into icebergs.”
Quotes are limited to those that can make the most impact.
That's not to say there aren't a lot of quotes in this piece, because there are. But they're all selected carefully, to showcase something that could not be said better in a different way. For instance, this quote about having a great roller:
"The thought of losing Gonzaga—“I’ve had two rollers in the 22 years of the bakery,” Rubin says—makes Rubin involuntarily swallow."
Letting Rubin say it himself works better than giving these details. The other quote that stuck out to me in the piece was this one, which is an indirect quote of a direct quote from earlier. A croissant, then, really can be good for all living creatures:
"The same can happen with sandwiches and pastry. A better croissant really can be good for all living creatures."
The quotes used here are significant and strong, unlike the overuse of quotes that you see in other pieces!