Mrs. Paul was never this finicky

Having once — way back in, oh, the 1980s — demonstrated my ability to produce a pie crust that didn’t end up with the general texture of a bicycle inner tube, I decided I would rely on simpler means thereafter. (There’s a reason for that word “once.”) Usually this requires a trip to the local market or to a separate bakery, but for some reason (I’m guessing a sale price) I plucked one of Mrs. Smith’s frozen concoctions out of the supermarket and schlepped it home.

The instructions on these, it seems to me, have gotten somewhat anal. Six steps now, of which the first, not unreasonably, is “Place oven rack into center position. Preheat oven to 400°.”

The second is a little snippier: “Remove frozen pie from box, and remove plastic overwrap from pie. Do not remove pie from original foil pan. Leave pan on counter while oven is preheating. After 10 minutes on counter, cut 4-6 slits in top crust.”

Emphasis added. Apparently Mrs. Smith, or one of her lackeys, believes that it takes 11 minutes or more to preheat an oven to 400°. I am here to tell you that my own 11-year-old Kenmore can do the job in 8:25. Moral: Render unto Sears the things that are Sears’.

The rest is fairly typical, though the juxtaposition of KEEP FROZEN and BAKE BEFORE SERVING on the front of the box suggests the potential for cognitive dissonance for the buyer who doesn’t quite understand the dynamics of frozen pie, and for the lawyer who’ll take his case after an unsatisfactory experience therewith.


  1. fillyjonk »

    10 November 2013 · 4:55 pm

    I’ve concluded that snippy and specific instructions are because there’s some twit out there who will do it wrong, and then try to sue the company because they burned down their house or something by failing to remove the plastic or heating the oven to 600 degrees or some such.

    It’s like the e-mails we get reminding us not to forget to hold our office hours. As if I would. (I would argue TPTB just need to track down the people who don’t and talk to them directly, but that’s hard and might make one of those people upset)

  2. CGHill »

    10 November 2013 · 5:04 pm

    Well, to borrow a phrase, I did it my way, with highly satisfactory results, given the limitations of the concept: were this crust any flakier, it would be sending out conspiracy theories.

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