Mayor Wilders issued a statement today reminding all bakeries, restaurants and members of the Independent Mobile Food Vendors Association in the city that enforcement of the new regulation against “overly diffused muffins” begins next Monday.
As passed by the City Council in the spring, all muffins baked within City limits are required to contain at least 18% non-dough-based content, such as fruits, nuts, chocolate or any of the dozens of exceptions granted by the Food Quality Subcommittee’s “Pastry Content Exception Document.” The measure was passed in response to growing complaints that local bakers’ efforts to undercut each others’ prices had lead to widespread filling reductions. Incidents of blueberry muffins with single-digit numbers of blueberries were widely reported.
“In addition to stepped-up law enforcement, we are relying on community enforcement of this regulation,” said Mayor Wilders. “Suspicious pastries can be brought to the Food Quality Department at the Department of Health in room 419B of the City Hall Annex. There, spectroscopic analysis can be completed in a few short minutes to determine the filling-to-dough ratio.” Violators of the 18% limit are subject to fines ranging from $5 to $50, depending on severity of the offense.
The Mayor noted that the spectroscopic analysis process does destroy the muffin, but in the event that it is found to violate the City ordinance, citizens are issued a voucher for a new muffin. “The subsequent muffin would presumably conform to regulations and be better anyway,” said a spokesperson from the Mayor’s office.
Opponents continue to argue that overzealous Council members rushed the regulation. “One bad catered brunch meeting, and the entire bakery community suffers,” says Edward Swarthmore, head of a local bakers’ assiociation. “What happened was, the Council held an impromptu morning meeting to deal with the City’s growing hazardous spore problem. Robby’s [Rotund Robby’s, on 19th Avenue] provides a spread of assorted muffins and pastries. And while they’re talking about the spores, and getting increasingly agitated with that problem, and probably with each other, well, I guess they felt like the muffins were the last straw.”
Reports from various Council members are conflicting about the precise quality of the muffins at the meeting, but one Member claimed to have eaten a chocolate chip muffin with “one single [expletive] chip.” The Council scheduled an unprecedented lunchtime session afterward, where the muffin law was written, briefly discussed, and passed in less than twenty minutes. “It was a hasty, angry process,” concludes Swarthmore.
However, aside from complaints from local baked goods merchant associations (who no longer seem to hold their historically strong sway on the City Council), the regulation has received near-universal praise as a marvel of City government good sense and efficiency. “This should be a model. Why have years of meetings to decide to add a stop sign to a dangerous intersection when common sense legislation can be done over lunch?” asks Velda Geathers, who has been pushing for such a sign at the corner of Olaf and Cloud Streets since 1971.
– Josh Wilson