Have you wondered when you visited a restaurant lately that some of the Menu items are labeled “Artisan”

What does it mean?

edBy: Edwin L. Crammer CPA – Well I did, so I decided to clear this confusion up. As far as I understand it the word started to appear about four or five years ago, when the term artisan was attached to some of the products offered for sale in a handful of restaurant chains. Then as time passed it seemed to pop up everywhere.

I first noticed it when I visited Dunkin Donuts about four years ago, a place I visit almost daily. I will have you know I am a Dunkin Donuts junkie. I should know better but their stuff is really addicting. A sign on one of the bins stated we are now serving artisan bagels. Puzzled I looked at the bagel bin and thought to myself, “The bagels do not look any different than the bagels in those same bins last week”. Nor do they look any different than the bagels sold in my local bagel shop that do not state that their bagels are “Artisan”.

I decided to let it go and passed it off as an advertising stunt. A couple of weeks later I noticed Dunkin Donuts had dropped the term it had in reference to that particular item. I found out later that the reason they dropped the term from their bagel collection was that the owner of a Kosher bakery in Brooklyn New York sued them and rather fight the case, they dropped the term at all of their locations.

But then, I started to notice that other chain restaurants such Domino’s Pizza and even Frito Lay began using the word to describe some of their Tostito items. Panera bread is an example of one of those chains that uses that term to describe some of its products and defends the use of it.  Now I got curious, so being a nosy person, I decided to research this new phenomena and you, whether you like it or not, are going to now benefit from my research.

What is the derivation of the term “artisan” anyway?  It is usually used in the nonsensical world to describe something unusual and different created by hand. It embarks back to the time when a craftsman in his shop produced a good that was different and unique from similar goods made by other individuals in their shops. If you look at what these current purveyors of goods that label themselves as “artisan” their goal is to give the possible purchaser of these goods that they have purchased something of unique taste and quality and to make themselves feel good about that fact.

artisan3            The term “artisan” is not a label in itself. The marketers by labeling their products with that moniker are attempting to make the purchaser believe that they have purchased a product of superior quality in a down market. It is similar to the often found term “Organic” that has been used to replace the term “natural.”  Both terms mean the same, but the term “organic” sounds better and give’s the purchaser a feeling that they have purchased a quality product that is healthier for them.

In case you are curious, after reading this article about the actual derivation, of the term “Artisan”, it is said to have originated from the term “Artisanal” or “Artesano” which stems from the sixteenth century in Italy.  Over the succeeding years, it was taken over by the French who used the word in the form of “artisan” this is how it is being currently used today in the ways I described earlier.

I am curious to know how many of the readers of this column have been influenced by the signs in your local supermarket or restaurant that promote one or more of their items that are offered for sale that you opted to purchase that item over one of the items that are labeled with a more normal and more mundane term.

Post Script:  How did you folks enjoy watching the conventions this year?  Great! Yeah? Didn’t I tell you several months ago that the best shows on TV this summer would be the two political conventions? Both conventions that just ended were filled with everything you have come to expect in a dramatic show, Intrigue, Drama, Innuendo, Surprise, Back stabbing fiends, etc., etc, etc. In my opinion they both deserve an Emmy.

You may contact Edwin L. Crammer CPA at:  Edwin@edwinlcrammerpa.com

Have you wondered when you visited a restaurant lately that some of the Menu items are labeled “Artisan”

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