Culinary contraband is nothing new. We’ve all asked a friend to smuggle some European cheese into the States or snuck a truck full of KFC across city lines, right? But the latest black market item causing a stir in the UK is something smaller, sweeter, and slightly more surprising: sprinkles.
CNN reports that Get Baked, a small bakery in Leeds, got a visit from the West Yorkshire Trading Standards last month during which the owner was interrogated about the origins of the red sprinkles on his best-selling raspberry-glazed doughnut cookie. Turns out the sprinkles in question were imported from the United States (oops, sorry) and contain erythrosine, a red artificial food coloring only allowed in cocktail and candied cherries in the UK. So to recap: cherries=good, sprinkles=illegal.
Rich Myers, director and founder of Get Baked told CNN, “I thought it was a joke at first, I thought it was someone pulling a prank. It’s quite an intimidating process really, being interviewed by Trading Standards. It’s not something you expect to happen when you run a little bakery.”
The news took off on social media with as #sprinklegate after the owner posted about the incident on the Get Baked Facebook page. The comments from the Get Baked page on the post really illuminate why someone would put it all on the line for a sprinkle: “I can’t use [the sprinkles from the US], I won’t use any. I will be on sprinkle strike and won’t budge for no man” and “Anyone who’s into sprinkles will know what I’m on about. Sprinkles you can get in this country are total shit. They look wank, they bake wank.”
Get Baked’s supply came from a wholesaler in the UK, implying that more of the illegal goods are currently circulating the British Isles. So why did this one small bakery get caught? Myers suspects the Trading Standards officers, who he calls the “sprinkle police,” could have only known about his contraband if someone snitched on him. It’s a reminder of just how cutthroat the baking business can be, keep your friends close, and your sprinkle supply even closer.