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Custard Packaging

538 words

It always baffles me how much time and money (effectively my money in some cases) businesses spend on weird things. Say you have a neat and small paper package for custard powder. And then you buy a new load of it and notice the packaging has actually grown considerably compared to the old pack. Weird:

Old and new pack of Dr. Oetker Vanille Sauce

But once you have them side-by-side, you start noticing more differences: While they were at it they changed the colour of the pudding to a darker brown and (hard to see in the photo) the custard's colour has become less pale. There's also some calorie information which appears on the front of the pack now. [Those little info tidbits are claimed to be helpful; yet, to me they're just meaningless numbers, particularly as you always have to figure out what kind of miniscule size they consider a 'serving'.]

Flipping the pack over, more changes become apparent:

Instructions on the back of a pack of Dr. Oetker Vanille Sauce

The instructions are not illustrated as they were in the old version but given by colour photographs now. A step backwards, loss of clarity and dumbing down in my opinion. They did finally merge the last two steps of the preparation, though, which makes more sense. They also include a table of even more nutritional information now.

Perhaps the whole redesign was a consequence of not being able to fit all the nutritional info on the old package? But couldn't they have done better. While the old pack was larger than the typical vanilla sugar and baking powder packs are, I found that I could still store them together. With the new package size, the difference has become too large and I can't fit all of them in the same box.

The full-colour printing on the back and the switch from matte to glossy paper doesn't appeal to me either. Glossy four-colour printing is the 21st century voice of cheap crap. Now my custard powder fits in neatly with that. Ho-hum.

Another difference I noticed – this stuff is weird once you start looking at it! – is that 2008 packs of the same custard came with 16 grams of the powder. They switched to 17g in 2009 while keeping the packaging size and stuck with 17g in 2010 with the larger package size.

The same company also sells packs of powder for making jelly. Both the jelly and the custard are made in similar ways: Add sugar to powder, add liquid and a step three. For some reason they used to measure the sugar in different ways on both products: 40g of sugar, described as two heaped table spoons on the custard package and 100g of sugar, described as eight 'flat' table spoons for the jelly. Meaning you had two notions of a table spoon, corresponding to 20g and 12,5g of sugar. When making jelly and custard at the same time – as I am wont to do – that's quite confusing. Interestingly they seem to have made those instructions more consistent now, using 20g heaped tablespoons of sugar everywhere now. [Obviously I was confused the first time I ran into that as I totally expected the inconsistency…] That's a good thing. One just wonders how the old, inconsistent, state could have existed for so long.

May 27, 2010, 19:57

Tagged as cooking, custard, design, dessert.


Comment by Stefan: User icon

The inconsistencies in recipes are part of what makes cooking black magic and you just have to love recipe authors for obscure voodoo measurements like “a pinch”.

May 28, 2010, 0:34

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Stefan — it drives my girlfriend crazy. She’s a recipe stickler and I eyeball everything. And I daresay I’m the better cook. (ducking!) :)

May 28, 2010, 15:41

Comment by ssp: User icon

@ Stefan & d.w.:

That’s certainly a tricky topic. When you don’t know what you’re doing of course the exact numbers will seem like a burden and totally silly. 2g of salt and 14g of butter would just seem silly when a ‘pinch’ and a ‘knob’ can indicate the same amount. But when you don’t have the knowledge or experience – or are too scared to just try things or are keen on following rules – I can see those imprecise measurements making things more difficult. Relaxing a bit or starting to drink may help in that situation.

What I do find tricky is that in some situations it really isn’t necessary to follow the rules by the gram. While in a few other situations it does. In my experience very few recipe writers indicate that crucial difference clearly.

One of my favourite examples for imprecise working is cake. If you start with flour, eggs, sugar and butter, my impression is that it’s pretty hard to work with them without getting some sort of cake out of them in the end, so one shouldn’t bicker about 5g of extra sugar or not and perhaps just squash in that semi-rotten banana as well.

Hmmmm, cake…

May 28, 2010, 16:18

Comment by d.w.: User icon

ssp: heh, banana bread is a great example. My girlfriend is squicked out by overripe bananas, and of course those are the ones that make the best banana bread. It works out well, because she inevitably buys too many, and I love making banana bread, and it’s one of the most beautifully imprecise foods around: “2 or 3 rotten bananas, a cup of sugar, 2 cups of flour, some fat, some vanilla, whatever nuts you have laying around, and bake at 350F until stuff looks the right shade of brown.”

May 28, 2010, 21:12

Comment by d.w.: User icon

oh, and if you’re going to use that one, googlers, don’t forget the leavening (baking powder) :)

May 28, 2010, 21:14

Comment by ssp: User icon

I suppose the only way to beat banana bread is eating banana bread with nutella

May 29, 2010, 2:57

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