| Sweets |

A Surprising Win With Betty Crocker's Shake-n-Pour Cupcake Mix

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I don't think I could have had lower expectations for Betty Crocker's Shake-n-Pour mixes. Curiosity compelled me to purchase the confetti cupcake mix even though I had read some rather scathing online reviews. And the sale price ($2!) certainly didn't hurt.

I've been intrigued by the Shake-n-Pour line from Betty Crocker since it came out a few months ago, in part because of the packaging. The red plastic jugs so resemble liquid detergent containers, I wondered if there would be any lawsuits because people got confused and ending up baking Tide and washing their clothes with batter.

I am also generally fascinated by food products that cater to (and arguably promote) unabashed laziness on the part of the American consumer yet still satisfy his or her need to claim some sort of ownership or control over the preparation. If you are, in fact, so busy that you do not have time to make cupcakes, there is certainly no shame in buying them from the supermarket. And, just an FYI in case you've been in hibernation for the past five years: There are now chains of special bakeries that specialize just in cupcakes. "Cupcakeries," if you will.

Clearly, however, there are a class of people who are unwilling to pay for quality or even shitty cupcakes and would rather spend the minimal amount of time making them at home via a "just add water" mix. Which is likely to produce the same shitty cupcakes you could have just bought in the first place.

Except, the cupcakes that emerged from the Shake-n-Pour mix were not bad. Actually, more than not bad: quite good, thanks to a moist, fluffy texture and mildly sweet cake speckled with fun confetti bits. I iced them with Pillsbury buttercream frosting (sorry, I don't believe in brand segregation) and dusted them with some orange sprinkles for Halloween. I wouldn't serve them at my best friend's wedding, but they're just fine for me.

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