Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hell Is Other Brand Names

I don't typically talk about my day job very much around here. I try not to. My day job, in case you don't know, is that I work at Walmart. Until recently, I was unloading trucks; I'm now doing something a little less rough on my knees, grabbing stuff out of the back and stocking stuff that runs out on the shelves. Generally not much to discuss there from day to day; most shifts tend to blend into each other in my head. But something I noticed sitting on the shelves not long ago took me a little by surprise.

Hell's Kitchen-brand no-bake creme brulee kits, coming in vanilla and coffee flavors. Here's the press release from September announcing it, and here's a picture of the bag:



Now, the kits themselves, I can't speak to personally. I've never had creme brulee, I don't know what a good one's supposed to taste like, and I'm not really about to go start now just so I can test this out... though poking around, I'm seeing decidedly mixed reviews (the consensus is easy to make, very rich, bland topping, tastes halfway decent but probably wouldn't buy again, especially given the calories). And I'm certainly not going to start slagging Gordon Ramsay or anything.

What I will slag is the marketing choice: specifically, the choice to market it as a Hell's Kitchen kit. Gordon Ramsay has pedigree. We all know that guy can cook. He even has another show you can choose, Masterchef, that might speak better about the quality. Masterchef gets some pretty good talent through the doors. Hell's Kitchen, meanwhile... people, we know Hell's Kitchen's legacy to television and food by now. That show is not a competition to find the next great chef. That show is a public service announcement, exposing crap cooks who think they're hot shit so that nobody will unknowingly subject themselves to restaurants containing them ever again.

Or let me put it another way. This is Hell's Kitchen's legacy, condensed into 57 minutes.

And when you go to Hell's Kitchen, as a diner, you don't go with the expectation of getting fed, especially if it's the first service of the season. You go for the floor show, and maybe along the way you get the food as a bonus. There's a reason the diners can see inside that kitchen.

Of course, given the reviews given so far to the kit, maybe that's why they decided to label it a Hell's Kitchen kit. One reviewer noted the lack of Gordon's name on it; figuring maybe Gordon tried it, didn't want anything to do with it, and then the execs decided to press ahead just using the show's name. I wouldn't be all that surprised if the reviewer had it dead-on.

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