Sunday, July 13, 2008

Once Again Corporate America Doesn’t Get It

The uniquely southern, delicate and light baking flour “White Lily” is no longer being produced in Knoxville, Tennessee. The J.M. Smucker Company (Oh Lord, I am biting my tongue and holding my fingers in check as I type the name “Smuckers”) bought White Lily and decided to stop milling the flour where it had been milled for 125 years. I referenced the famous and decidedly regional White Lily flour last year when I urged any reader in the southern United States, to make these “Touch of Grace Biscuits”. I knew better than to attempt to replicate them using a non-southern style of flour. But Smucker’s didn’t. They claim no one will be able to tell the difference. However, in a blind test for the New York Times, no one was fooled. You’d think that the company founded by Jerome Monroe Smucker in 1897, would be respectful of the more senior White Lily Company.

This time it wasn’t our fault. We weren’t the kiss of death. But we feel for the generations of southern bakers who have had part of their flavor heritage and taste tradition irreparably changed.

Thanks to Natalie “Alabama” Chanin of Alabama Studio Style and the Alabama Stitch Book for the heads up about White Lily.


Roo said...

You'll have to urge people to vote with their wallets.... It's a principled thing and can sometimes cost you in not buying what you want, such as a favourite product, but until large companies realise we don't want a national or in our case, a "european" flavour and taste profile to our goods, they will continue to do it, and soon we'll all be eating the same useless pap.

So try a boycott, I'm sure something ryhmes with Smuckers.....

Pink Granite said...

Hi Roo -
We also worry about the homogenization of regional foods and flavors. The word "terroir" has been adopted and adapted to speak to that sense of place in regional cuisine.

Years ago, we were speaking with someone about our dismay that Starbucks shops were popping up all over the place. That person didn't understand our concern. We explained that it meant many small, independent, local, unique, perhaps quirky coffee shops and coffee houses would disappear.

On the one hand, I appreciate knowing exactly what I will find if I am in a new city, at a national chain. (And those national chains started out as Mom & Pop places.) But there seems to be a tipping point where convenience and familiarity begin to obliterate the homegrown, hometown favorites of an area.

Thanks for your fervor and your advice!
- Lee