Their name is sweeter than their cake

I have wasted many afternoons sitting on the couch, mouth watering, watching “Cake Boss.” For those that don’t know, “Cake Boss” is a television show on TLC network that features Buddy Valastro’s world-famous bakery, Carlo’s Bakery, in Hoboken, New Jersey. It follows Buddy’s masterful, inventive and expensive creations, many of which I have dreamed were mine.

Of course, even if I paid the hundreds of dollars to fly across the country, the cake would probably cost just as much. Their website claims that cake consultations cost $100; I can’t imagine what the cake would cost.

But there are so many reasons for someone to get a cake from Carlo’s Bakery, or so I thought. The goods at Carlo’s Bakery are amazingly decorated, after all that is what the show is about, and supposedly taste just as good.

It is also famous. Getting a cake from Carlo’s Bakery would be like having a purse from Michael Kors or leggings from LuluLemon. Everyone wants the brand name.

However, the question is: is it worth it? Is spending extra money for a simple name worth the cost? At least in the case of Carlo’s Bakery, I was going to find out at their new storefront in Santa Monica. It was time to test whether buying the name was really worth it.

From the outside, the bakery looked like any other, different only because of Buddy’s picture. Walking through the front door, it is like I took a step into New Jersey, albeit a much smaller version. The smells were luscious and creamy, gently enveloping me as I walked inside.

I knew I was not getting a cake, but I considered my other options. While I was completely open to eating a cupcake for breakfast (for the sake of journalism of course), I opted to go with something more socially acceptable for breakfast: doughnuts.

They only had a couple doughnut options, but the workers recommended one in particular: the oreo doughnut. Oreo pieces on top, oreo filling in the center– this doughnut was a thing of cookie wonder. I bought this one and a cannoli doughnut, arranging them on a table with the Carlo’s logo behind and took out my phone to take a Snapchat.

Social media plays a big role in this brand name culture, showing off what you have and its logo. I mean why else would a name matter if no one was going to see it?

It was time for the actual taste test. Slicing both doughnuts in half, thick cream spilled out of the centers. I lifted the hefty doughnut and took a large bite, luscious, sugary sweetness exploding in my mouth. The dough was dense, not light and airy like a doughnut should be, but it tasted doughy and perfectly acceptable. The icing was sickly sweet, but it was the fillings that made these dough balls delicious, lavish centers of milky, creamy goodness.

Were they yummy? Yes. Were they worth the actual cost? Considering they were about $3 each, that is debatable. On one hand, those flavors are unique, tasting and looking good. On the other, I know of cheaper places to get doughnuts, like Rolling Pin Donuts, albeit they are more traditional. Obviously Carlo’s Bakery is not known for their doughnuts, but as a world-famous bakery they should be top notch in everything they produce, especially if they are charging a high price.

It is just like the example of purses or leggings. The saying goes, “You get what you paid for,” but that is not always the case; a pricier brand name does not make it any better than something less well-known. That is not to say that some brands aren’t better than others, or that all brand name products are inferior, but a name should not make the product immediately worth five times more. You should choose a brand not because of its name, but because you have a genuine preference for their product.

As for Carlo’s Bakery, I will admit, their doughnuts were good and honestly cheaper than I thought they would be, plus all of their other baked goods looked delectable as well. Am I going back? No. The brand name was what drew me to Carlo’s bakery in the first place, and although in some regards the place lived up to my expectations, it seemed obvious to me that I could get a similar item closer to home. Perhaps other big names are just as great as their logos suggest, but it should depend on the customers desires, not those of society around them.

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