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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Having their cake and eating it

Rather unaccountably the Western Mail devotes most of page three of this morning's edition to the decline of high tea and in particular to cakes of the Mr. Kipling variety.

It seems everyone from our political leaders downwards are ditching the Cherry Bakewells and Battenberg for a more healthy lifestyle.

Yesterday RHM, the company that owns Mr Kipling, conceded that an £8m revamp for the product had failed to produce a rise in sales. To make matters worse, sales of Cadbury cakes, also owned by RHM, were also down. Shares in the company duly fell 7%.

Cake industry analysts, including bankers Credit Suisse First Boston, warned that the industry was not expected to pick up until at least February - even with the traditional Christmas boom in confectionery fast approaching.

The figures are the latest bad news for cake lovers, who over the past few years have seen their favourite snack fall out of favour under a welter of health promotion initiatives and diet programmes. A survey of social attitudes taken recently by the ONS showed a decline in interest in eating cakes and sweets; 6% of women and 3% of men said they had cut them out of their diet. And Education Minister Jane Davidson is one of many senior politicians to have banned the biscuit tin from the Ministerial meeting room - officials, AMs and visiting dignitaries are offered fruit instead.

It is true that there is commendable self-restraint in the Assembly these days. One Cabinet Minister used to offer cream cakes at all her meetings in the early days but has apparently since moved on. The Education Minister may offer fruit in the fifth floor meeting room but at meetings of the Committee which scrutinises her chocolate biscuits are still on offer. We may have to review that.

The part of this article that caught my attention was the short profile of two Welsh politicians at the end. Tory AM and chair of the Assembly's catering sub-committee, David Melding, confesses to a love of creme custard and caramel washed down by a sweet sherry whilst media tart, Lembit Opik (I only put that in because it fitted in with the cake theme Lembit, honest!) tells us that he does not have a sweet tooth:

Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomery: "I'm afraid I'm part of the problem rather than part of the solution because I haven't got a very sweet tooth. I'd rather have a pickled herring than a chocolate cake. It's an Estonian delicacy; I like things with vinegar.

"If Mr Kipling wants me as a customer he'll have to produce something like that, or maybe anchovy clairs, although he would probably have to keep the production line short.

"I do, however, employ a group of staff who seem to prefer cake. The other day I observed one of my new members of staff eat five medium-sized chocolate cakes in eight minutes, so she's trying exceedingly hard."

Such frankness is beyond parody! I shall refrain from describing the chocolate eating habits of my own staff as I do not want to expose them to that sort of public scrutiny. Shame on you Lembit! :-)
Can you please stop picking on Lembit. He is far more popular than you and your snide comments and constant criticism do nothing to promote your own cause.

Lay off Lembit!
Well whoever you are should get a sense of humour. I can assure you that Lembit has one. Oh and while you are at it look up the word 'irony'.
Personally, I think that the decline of cake can be put down to the brave actions of a single politician: David Amess MP.
On behalf of WLD assembly staff can I say we do our very best for the confectionary manufacturers of the country, and true to our ideals of fairness and equality try to do our best with the fruit too. (Well there's raspeberry jam in the doughnuts!)

Now if you can do something about that fake salt in the canteen please? Trying to get something out of those contraptions does more harm to your blood pressure than the salt would!
My theory was that Peter and/or Jeff Cuthbert were going round the canteen late at night and gluing up the salt grinders as part of their healthy living jihad !!!

I am considering following the example of a certain Tory AMSS and bringing my own (bog standard table) salt into work with me :-)
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