It seems the banning of American-made sprinkles in the UK might hurt the folks at Get Baked (of the famous sprinkle-bereft raspberry glazed doughnut cookie more than we originally thought*: Taste has made a solid case that sprinkles are having quite a cultural moment. In an age when everything needs to be meme-able, a sowing of impressive sprinkles can make a home-baked cake shine more than tricky-to-master piped frosting. But where did this very 21st-century trend in very tiny confections come from?
[…Many] forms of sprinkles were available throughout 19th-century America, as they were in Europe and elsewhere. Some versions may have been inspired bymukhwas, a South Asian sweet snack of candy-coated fennel, anise, and other seeds (only these served a nutritional purpose, to aid digestion and freshen breath after a meal). For instance, the Dutch brand De Ruijter sells candied anise seeds under the trademarked name “muisjes” (meaning “mice”), among other varieties of little candy toppings, including hagelslag (meaning “hailstorm”).
There’s a Dutch tradition of new parents offering pink-and-white or blue-and-white muisjes on biscuits to friends and family to celebrate a birth, says Dutch food writer Dorothy Porker. As for the long, skinny, sprinkle-esque hagelslag – and often chocolate hagelslag, which, unlike in the United States, must contain at least 32 percent cocoa – there is no need for a special celebration. It’s a common feature of breakfast and lunch, where it’s sprinkled on bread; a canister of the stuff is often set on tables next to salt and pepper.”
From early beginnings to the Great NYC Cupcake Wave at the dawn of the century, sprinkles have been the little candies that could. I wonder if Instagram and TikTok will further serve sprinkles’ proliferation – or if we’ll be seeing a bust anytime soon?
* But don’t worry: All is not lost for the folks at Get Baked! In researching this post, I checked in with their – delightfully profane – social media. Head baker Rich Myers has parlayed the lemons West Yorkshire Trading Standards gave him into lemonade flavoured sprinkles, by founding his own %$#! sprinkle company. Dubbed Expen$ive Sprinkles (I bet in an even combo of rage and marketing genius), the company only debuted last month. The sprinkles look stunning, with rich colours and a satisfyingly round heft. I hope they’ll be able to ship to Canada at some point – I’d love to do a taste test opposite the dreaded banned sprinkles here across the pond!