Artisan is the new organic -- the of-the-minute foodie terminology that means next to nothing as far as the actual food is concerned. After all, there's nothing to stop your average corporate suit from slapping the term artisanal on a bag of pork skins or a can of Spam.
Experts' opinions on the matter vary. Some claim that as long as it originated with a hand-crafted process and recipe, it counts. Others say the term is applicable only to actual small-batch operations. But few would dispute that it definitely doesn't apply to anything churned out by Frito-Lay, Domino's, or even the "socially conscious" Starbucks.
The dictionary definition of artisanal (via Merriam Webster) is "one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods." It's difficult to imagine that such a description could ever apply to anything manufactured by a corporate behemoth and sold by every Tom, Dick, and Walmart.
So in the interest of calling out the corporate phonies, here are the five most ridiculous "artisanal" products we've spotted.
5. Sargento Artisan Blends Shredded Authentic Mexican Cheese
That's a mouthful. Artisan and authentic? Impressive! Besides the claims by this corporate cheese giant that this blend is "artisanal," we're pretty sure the copy is questionable. Queso quesadilla and asadero are reportedly the same thing, and can any cheese actually be "exuberant"?
4. Fannie Mae Artisan Summer Collection
Well, they're on sale. Does that make them officially un-artisan? The chocolate giant claims this line is "created in small batches using the freshest and highest quality ingredients from all over the world." Hmmm. My guess is, an order of 2.5 million colorful chocolates would be mighty easy for FM to fulfill.
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2. Starbucks Artisanal Breakfast
According to Starbucks, handmade = artisan. With a Starbucks location on every corner from here to Timbuktu, they just might succeed at redefining the term to fit their corporate mold. After all - we can't live without our venti half caf skinny soy iced vanilla lattes (or artisanal breakfasts).
1. Tostitos Artisan Recipes Baked Three Cheese Queso
Tortilla chips hardly invoke images of hand-rolled dough and "small batches." Instead, you're much more likely to visualize drunken binges and Taco Bell-style Mexican grub. But hey, if you're looking for a classier chips & dip, Tostitos has you covered.