Someone came up with the idea of a bake sale last autumn, and when the donations started coming in, we wondered why we had never done this before. Clearly, the parents of the nursery school are in need of some sort of baking intervention, I said in October, as I put my double batch of lemon scones down on a table already groaning under a surfeit of cakes, cookies, muffins, and pies.
So for today's event, I didn't go quite so overboard, and confined myself to just a single batch of banana-butterscotch muffins. Banana seemed to be the theme of the day, as there were also banana-oat-bran, banana-nut, and gluten-free banana muffins on the table, in addition to an impressive selection of chocolate-chip cookies, brownies, chocolate-brownie cookies, chocolate fudge squares, and a few delicious outliers in the form of snickerdoodles, coconut macaroons, and even soft pretzels.
Thing was, as the banana-nut muffins were arrayed on the table in their individual zippy bags, with hand-written labels listing the ingredients, we all remarked on their impressive size and uniformity. In fact, they looked very much like the sort of banana-nut muffins you might buy at the supermarket. Very, very much. In addition to which, the ingredients listed both milk and soy; as a parent of a child with allergies pointed out, nobody bakes with both of those at once. You use soy to replace dairy, unless you're a supermarket who uses soy because everything has soy in it. We were pretty much, say 99.8%, sure that someone had just bought a batch of supermarket muffins and repackaged them for the sale.
Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Nowhere is it written that donations for the bake sale have to be homemade. If you want to help with the fundraising effort, it's perfectly kind of you to buy something - something you know many people like - and give it to the school to sell on. They were priced at $2 each, so we probably even turned a profit on the original outlay. And the customers didn't seem to mind - I was astounded at how many people's eyes lit up as they scanned the table, spotted the giant, "Texas-sized" muffins, and decided one of those was exactly what they needed. It's bigger, it must be better. I need bigger. Everyone needs bigger.
I didn't point out to any of these people that the muffins were clearly not home-made. Maybe they knew that. Maybe they haven't eaten as many store-bought banana-nut muffins as I have in my time, and don't recognise them. Maybe they don't care, they just like things that are big. But I did feel that we were duping our generous customers somehow by providing these at a stand otherwise full of honest-to-goodness home-baked goodies.
(I reserve judgement on the samoas that had been put two-by-two into small sandwich bags and marked at 50c apiece. I've seen recipes for samoas (reknowned as girl-scout cookies) online, and they were donated by a student's grandmother. Grandmothers have time for meticulous baking, right?)
What do you think? Would you donate store-bought goods to a bake sale? Does it matter, so long as it raises funds for a good cause?