In today's guest post, Professor OMG tackles a profound question, one that I addressed obliquely in an earlier post but had no answer for. Trust Owlie to come through for us. Here's Owl Meat Thursday. EL
Something is awry with our humble meat loaf of the sea. On a 1977 Haussner's menu a crab cake sandwich was $2.75, the same price as a sardine sandwich or a "hamburger sandwich." Crab cakes have morphed from a homely local staple to an over-hyped, perplexing, lower-quality luxury good. ...
Crab cakes as big as soft balls? Absurd. Using expensive, less flavorful jumbo lump? Curious. Sneaking vapid pasteurized Asian crab into "Maryland" crab cakes? Preposterous. For years I have wondered why people desire this increasingly inferior and bombastic product. To understand demand for a less tasty, more expensive product, we must consider psychology in addition to economics.
The crab cake is becoming food bling – an object of conspicuous consumption. It is for some an exhibition of vulgar materialism, a lumpen-luxury good, an ironic status symbol. It is a gesture of silly wealth as American as a $12 Grey Goose dirty martini, $300 Nikes, or designer baby clothes. Flavor is now Flavor Flav.
Note: A longer version that includes historical data, quotes, photos, and an explanation of why Tony Danza is like a crab cake is posted here.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)