Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar Will Rename “Crack Pie”
Cambridge, MA– When Christina Tosi opened the Harvard Square location of her national bakery chain Milk Bar in February, it filled a niche for local customers with both a sweet tooth and a need to indulge in childlike nostalgia. After two months, many customers described the bakery's menu offerings with one loaded word— "addictive."
Equating food with addiction is a now familiar ploy in the industry, though not without criticism. Last year, Vice’s Hilary Pollack castigated the analogy of flippantly comparing food to crack cocaine without taking into consideration its tangible effects, particularly in historically distressed and impoverished communities. Highlighted in the article was Milk Bar itself, which has been offering a buttery concoction referred to as “Crack Pie” that’s become their signature dessert since opening their first shop in 2008.
“I baked the pie and the filling never quite set, but it smelled really good,” Tosi explained in a 2018 episode of the Netflix series Chef’s Table: Pastry. “And this Australian cook was like, I don’t know what you just did, but this pie is like crack. It’s crack pie.”
Pollack isn’t the only one to criticize the trend of comparing food to crack as a marketing strategy. Terms such as “distasteful”, “unoriginal”—and in the words of the Boston Globe’s Devra First last month, “not cute”—have all been launched at what is by now a stale joke by the food industry. As a result of this public pressure, Tosi has announced the name change of her popular “Crack Pie” to the more neutral “Milk Bar Pie.”
“...Our mission, after all, is to spread joy and inspire celebration. The name Crack Pie falls short of this mission,” Tosi shared on Milk Bar’s blog earlier this week. “That’s why starting today, Crack Pie will now be Milk Bar Pie. Why Milk Bar Pie? It’s simple, so we’ve decided to keep it simple. It’s been on the Milk Bar menu since day one. And, the old name was getting in the way of letting the gooey, buttery slice bring happiness— my only goal in creating the thing in the first place.”
Yet the name change has not been without criticism itself, with anonymous social media users weighing in on Tosi’s decision as “another example of PC retoric [sic]” and noting that “the name of a pie does not affect [sic] a drug epidemic.”
While it remains doubtful that Class B substance abusers will be impacted by the pastry's name change, at least this puts an end to the non-existent debate over whether the pie actually had crack in it.
Image via the Milk Bar Store