Sprinkle Sprinkle, Little Star

Oct. 21, 2021

A British baker gets surprisingly passionate about sprinkles.

Full disclosure: I never order candy sprinkles on ice cream or anything else, and I rarely buy anything with them, because to me, they barely qualify as food. They’re more of an edible decoration, like sprigs of parsley around a steak.

That’s why I was startled to see how passionate a British baker got about them once his supply got cut off.

This story has received quite a bit of traction. To recap: Rich Myers, owner of the Get Baked shop in Leeds, was chagrined to learn that the supply of sprinkles for his cakes, doughnuts, etc., he had ordered from a local supplier couldn’t be used. Imported from America, they contained a coloring agent, known here as FD&C Red No. 3, whose use is banned in the UK except for some highly restricted applications like coloring maraschino cherries or decorating eggs. (In high doses, it has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals.) Myers found this out when a representative from something called West Yorkshire Joint Services, acting on a tip, came around to his shop and informed him that the sprinkles were noncompliant.

First of all, what kind of enemy could a baker possibly make who’d be willing to dime him out over sprinkles with illegal red dye?

Then it gets weirder, to me at least. Myers pushed back hard, stating on his Facebook page that he was going on a “sprinkle strike” and that “I am only prepared to use them and no others.” He got very vehement about it, using obscenities to describe the quality of sprinkles available in Britain: “They look [deleted], they taste [deleted].” The tableau was complete with a picture of him with a jar of sprinkles in his right hand while his left displayed a raised middle finger.

But Myers doesn’t specify why Britain’s sprinkles are so bad, nor does any of the other coverage of this story I’ve seen so far. What does it mean for a sprinkle to be “bad,” anyway? If they’re discolored or they clump together, I guess, but short of that, what’s the big deal? Their only function is to sit on top of the frosting or whatever, look good, and contribute a negligible amount of sweetness. Has anyone, anywhere, ever sent a dessert back because its sprinkles weren’t red enough?

This seems to be working out well for Myers, though. Media coverage has sparked interest and sympathy on his behalf to the point where Get Baked is straining to keep up with the demand.

In the end, I guess it’s at least a little refreshing to see a problem with the British food supply chain that doesn’t involve Brexit.