Tuesday, May 20, 2008
All Your Cream Puff Are Belong To Us
Konichiwa, Beard Papa
Why are 28 to 35 year old urban hipsters lapping up faux-French cream puffs and virally pass-along marketing this product/experience? Um ... unknown. The charmingly clumsy marketing of "Beard Papa" and his cream puffs by Japanese multi-restaurant franchiser Muginoho may be to blame.
"Beard Papa" is a transliteration of the French "barbe à papa", meaning "cotton candy". I guess in some tangential way it does suggest the artificially cloying and unrelenting sweetness Muginoho delivers in both the cream puff and the store environment. And everyone loves a clumsy Japanese translation. No, they do not serve cotton candy, only cream puffs and a few precious pastries that look like they are designed for Hello Kitty's consumption. The company has about 250 stores in Asia, and about 30 now in the US -- with many more planned here.
The Beard Papa web site offers an apocryphal (and creepy) animated origin of the Beard Papa Cream Puff, involving cute cartoon children entranced by the beard of a elderly baker named Beard Papa. "The cream [puff] is just a fluffy and lovable as my beard!" insinuates Beard Papa, as the gathered cute children express what I assume is intended as delight -- though their expressions look more demonic than delighted. You can judge for yourself.
So how are the cream puff at Beard Papa? Good, but very ordinary. Most local bakeries will make as good or better. But local bakeries don't always have cream puffs.