Friday Bread Basket 6/17/22
Buns of evil edition
I said I was going to be away this week and not posting, but I ended up posting on Wednesday after all, so what the hell. I’m back home from NYC as of yesterday (after meeting up with so. many. bread. friends., most of them IRL for the first time!), and working on a new potato bread recipe for an upcoming in-person King Arthur Baking Company workshop on September 24 & 25 in Norwich, VT, on enriched breads (only two spots left!):
But I’m also working it up because the world needs a replacement burger bun, now that we can no longer enjoy the best burger buns ever, Martin’s Potato Rolls. I’ll share the new recipe here soon, but in the meantime, the last version, from Edible Boston’s summer 2021 edition (pictured above), is nearly as good as the new one.
I’ve already shared some details about how Martin’s had contributed to the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign of Doug Mastriano, a Christian white nationalist who was deeply involved in the January 6 attacks, which is only the tip of the iceberg, as Intelligencer lays out. As it turns out, Mastriano would likely never have gotten this far without the help of the Martin family, who “donated $100,000 to Mastriano’s bid, by far the largest single contribution the state senator would receive during the primary”:
The heavy support shocked both longtime customers and veteran political observers, neither of whom had realized the potato-roll empire had propped up Mastriano, who had been little known outside of his district before the pandemic. Over the past two years, Mastriano has won a die-hard base by casting his opposition to lockdown mandates as a holy battle, a framing he also used to claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. After the election, Mastriano organized buses for, and attended, the rally that precipitated the attack on the Capitol. As governor, he has said he “could decertify every machine in the state with a stroke of a pen” because he would appoint the secretary of state overseeing the electoral system, raising the possibility he could enact a one-man coup in 2024….
As reported by The New Yorker, he joined attempts to get state legislatures to introduce and rewrite laws that mandate school prayer, outlaw same-sex couples from adopting children, and institute a total ban on abortion that includes instances of rape, incest, or threat to a mother’s life. A former Army colonel, Mastriano delivers lines about spiritual warfare with a militaristic thump. “The forces of darkness are hitting us really hard right now,” he told hundreds of supporters in a church parking lot in April. “We’re going to bring the state back to righteousness. This is our day, our hour, to take our state back and renew the blessings of America.”
If you were on the fence about boycotting Martin’s, I hope that article will finally get you off of it.
You should also know that burger chain Shake Shack, which is responsible for making Martin’s into the bun juggernaut it is, has so far refused to stop using Martin’s buns, despite requests from customers to cut ties. While other businesses have dropped Martin’s, the Shack is holding on, even though their company slogan is “Stand for Something Good”, which is supposed to mean they source “premium ingredients from like-minded purveyors [they] admire and love”.
I don’t eat Shake Shack often, but I sure won’t be back there again until they find a new source of buns.
For a supermarket alternative to Martin’s, my friend Dayna Evans has just the ticket, King’s Hawaiian:
King’s Hawaiian is a family-owned bakery business that’s been around since the 1950s — you probably know them best for their Hawaiian sweet rolls, which come fused together in grids of 12 displayed like a set of abs in bright orange packaging. King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls are divine complements to pulled pork sandwiches and ham-and-cheese sliders and pretty much any savory thing you want to throw on them. Last year, Guy Fieri became a spokesperson for King’s Hawaiian, and he makes cheesesteak and hamburger sliders in a commercial that promotes something he calls “Slider Sunday.” Slider Sunday, you say? Sounds pretty great. No notes.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. Have a peaceful weekend & a happy Juneteenth!
Sorry I haven’t shared this with you all sooner. It went live and quickly filled up before I could do so.
Andrew, I love your blog and your recipes. I also love that you have a point of view and try to live an ethical life. It’s easy to ignore things like Martin’s and pretend that not buying them doesn’t make a difference. But it does.
Hawaiian sweet bread is inspired by the Portuguese sweet bread pao doce brought to the islands by immigrant workers. Purchased fresh from a specialty bakery or made from scratch at home, it resembles choreg a bit. Everyone goes to Leonard's on Waikiki for malasadas, but don't skip the pao doce! Packaged King's is good, but nothing beats the freshness of a newly made loaf or rolls, as with all baked goods. King's consumed on the mainland is baked on the mainland, but it brings a little aloha and Portugal to your day. King's bakery has a very interesting history too.