No Brownie Points Here

Want to know what’s wrong with this country in a nutshell?

Brownies.

Seriously. Not Betty Crocker’s brownies, Mom’s brownies, Pillsbury’s or Jacques Torres’. The government’s brownie recipe, coming in at a whopping 30 pages, tells you all you need to know about why you can put a fork in us.

The Pentagon has provided the guidelines for this monumental project. Sure, I expect that when you’re making big quantities of baked goods you will need instructions. What I didn’t expect was that those instructions include the EPA, Health and Human Services, the American Association of Cereal Chemists (who knew?), the National Academy of Sciences and other government agencies.

Couldn’t they just use the food service version from Betty Crocker, Sysco or others?

The document obsesses about all the ingredients. For example, water must “conform to the National Primary Drinking Water regulations.” Salt “shall be white, non iodized, refined sodium chloride with or without anti caking agents.” Nuts can be almonds, pecans or walnuts, but have to be of a certain standard and grade and “pass through a 4/16″ diameter round hole screen.”

If they don’t, I guess you don’t eat.

Here’s the full analysis of Pentagon brownies if you have nothing better to do this afternoon and I mean NOTHING: http://liw.iki.fi/liw/misc/MIL-C-44072C.pdf.

Hard to imagine World War I or II cooks having to endure this hogwash. Think how many people had to be employed to put this nonsense together. Then it had to be published and distributed. I’m sure there are updates, too, as the original recipe was 26 pages, but has since grown to 31.

Jeremy Whitsitt of The Defense Department, well, defends the excess: “What would happen if you cooked a meal, stored it in a stifling hot warehouse, dropped it out of an airplane, dragged it through the mud, left it out with bugs and vermin, and ate it three years later?” Such problems are what occupy him at the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate.

Maybe they should have just asked General Mills because a lot of their similar products seem to do that already, making the transition from hot and cold parts of the country easily and with dates sometimes years away on the UPC code.

That’s not good enough for our government, however.

Someone at NPR asked the Hello Cupcake bakery in D.C. to follow the recipe and make a batch. They didn’t like them and found them dry, crumbly dense and poor in the taste department.

Is anyone surprised?

Final question: Cakey or gooey? Has anyone decided this yet? Or is there another 31 pages to come?

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