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31 March, 2005

Get 'em while they're... too late

'Hot cross buns' are, well, currant buns with a dough cross across the top.  At least in the UK, they're traditionally eaten (toasted and buttered) around easter.

'Hot cross pies' are a marketing gimmick invented by a certain exceedingly mass-market baker/confectioner.  They're standard individual fruit pie cases simply filled with currants and with a cross cast into the pastry of the lids.  The result is a less than tempting hybrid of mince pies (a specifically christmas tradition) and Eccles cakes (a Lancashire invention, comprising currants in puff pastry).

I'm not a major fan of confectionry, and tend to avoid the products of this particular manufacturer as I find their excessive packaging objectionable. A pack of six pies comprises a plasticised, foil-embossed cardboard box with a plastic window showing the product: six individual pies in individually-sealed plastic tubs. What a waste of materials, energy, time and landfill space.

However, I couldn't avoid noticing these 'hot cross pies', as the shop on campus has a mountain of them at the checkout, all about to pass their sell-by date. A popular product, then.

Incidentally, it's a pre-christian tradition to bake buns in honour of the spring goddess Eostre – in the same way as christians stole her name for their festival, they appropriated the buns, too. One story alleges that the early clergy, having failed to suppress the pagan bunmaking tradition, perverted it by blessing the buns and marking them with the cross. However, other accounts state that the cross had always been added anyway, in homage to the sun, seasons and femininity.

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