With Valentine’s Day behind us, Gerhard Jenne reflects on how Konditor & Cook brought a little risqué love to customers.
Following a very successful Valentine’s campaign I’m glad to report that the nation is still very romantically inclined. However, a bit worryingly, it’s getting rather moralistic at the same time.
At Konditor & Cook, humour and cheekiness have always played a big part when it comes to cake and biscuit decorating ideas, and attracting customers to our shops. On this one we’ve agreed with Oscar Wilde, who said: “The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”.
Our Magic Cakes, small brightly coloured fondant fancies, have been decorated with royal-iced sweetness and cute imagery for years. They make their recipients smile - hence their name, ’Magic Cakes’. Some of them, intended to be edible greeting cards, feature direct messages: Happy Birthday, Good Luck, Sexy Babe, Kiss Me, Hug Me, or the controversial Shag Me. The latter has mostly been consigned to baking history as we bowed to pressure by parents who couldn’t explain to their literate offspring that we were referring to a 1920s dance!
All this baking hokum took inspiration from the British humour I so learned to love by watching the Carry On movies, or by immersing myself in the camp jokes of Little Britain, where humour and innuendo are often used to disarm socially risqué topics.
Jammy Dodgers, traditionally jam-sandwiched shortbread biscuits, have been given a new lease of life by our bakers. In our recipe we stamp out four-letter words, such as Tart, or acronyms such as YOLO (You Only Live Once), using small alphabet cutters instead of the customary hole or a heart. And, by the nature of some of the risqué words, and as a gentle warning to anyone feasting their eyes on them, we labelled them ‘Dodgy Jammers’.
When we first developed them, we were very bold with our choices. It is amazing how many suitable and fun four-letter words the English language has borne fruit to. And if that were not enough, one female customer had the unspeakable baked for her!
For this Valentine’s we limited our Dodgy Jammer range; in the end 1,000 were sold, and ‘Kiss’ came top of the podium followed by ‘Love’ and ‘Hunk’. Then came ‘Tart’, ‘Shag’, ‘Dick, ‘Slut’ and ‘Babe’. While there was a lot of romance, I’ll let you guess which one caused the most furore.
For gay men it’s not a big deal to call each other ‘Slut’, and our stores count many of them as their customers (gay men that is). One husband bought one for his wife remarking, "She will love it" (and not take it too seriously). Yet a number took offence at what was meant to be a harmless sweet biscuit, albeit laced with some not intentionally sour-tasting humour.
Maybe there is a limit to the proverb ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’ after all. While I don’t expect groups of customers bearing placards, it’s quite easy to start a potentially harmful social media campaign.
It’s a good thing we have Easter around the corner, with eggs, flowers, bunnies – cute innocent stuff. Oops, I nearly forgot Mothering Sunday at the end of March – rest assured we will not be baking any MILF (Mother I’d Like To …….) Dodgy Jammers for this one either.