What do tampons have to do with the price of maple syrup in England? Oatmeal.

2 Oct

Lately I’ve been obsessed with oatmeal. Over the past week I’ve made carrot cake oatmeal, gingerbread oatmeal, Almond Joy oatmeal and baked pumpkin pie oatmeal. (I can’t take credit for these creations, thanks The Oatmeal Artist!) Part of the fun of cooking is buying new supplies, like spices and ramekins, and figuring out the British name for various ingredients, like molasses (which is called black treacle. *The more you know*) When I’m looking up recipes I always pull up mysupermarket.co.uk to check the prices of ingredients and whether Sainsbury’s actually sells them. One recipe I was looking for called for applesauce, so I did a quick search. This is what came up:

That’s a light bulb, two appliance descalers, and then a bunch of tampons. The results of a search for “applesauce.” Mysupermarket.co.uk is usually very accurate, but something seems to have gone amiss here. When I searched “apple sauce” with a space, then my results made sense:

While I’m on the topic of oatmeal and grocery shopping, there’s one ingredient I always end up leaving out or subbing because it’s unbelievably expensive in the UK: maple syrup. A 250 g bottle (8.8 ounces) costs £5.99 ($9.66 at the current exchange rate). That’s outrageous! Even the generic store brand is £5.49 for 330 g. Can’t you get Mrs. Butterworth for a couple bucks in the US?

…But then I realized something: Mrs. Butterworth (and probably every bottle of pancake syrup I’ve ever enjoyed in America) isn’t real maple syrup. It’s maple-flavored corn syrup. While probably not $10 for a little bottle, I’m sure real maple syrup is much more expensive than the fake stuff in the US. It’s just that the fake stuff is so prominent, most people don’t even realize it’s not actually from a maple tree. Thanks to Jamie Oliver (I’m guessing), my only option here is to shell out for the real stuff … until I got the brilliant idea to check the American store for some genuine fake maple syrup. And there it was — Aunt Jemima pancake syrup! … for £6.50. Why I thought the store that sells Lucky Charms for the equivalent of $11 would have affordable syrup is beyond me. Looks like it’s honey in my oatmeal for the foreseeable future.

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