They say it’s a charm.
A popular fixture of the Japanese cityscape are the many plastic food displays that adorn the windows of restaurants and other food retailers. These fake foods are crafted with such attention to detail that they are works of art in their own right.
Unfortunately, this can be a source of problems for the food vendors themselves when these realistic dishes are not safely encased in display cases. Just ask the staff Andrew’s Egg Tartwho have had trouble distinguishing their fake cakes from the real ones.
▼ Andrew’s Eggtart is a division of Lord Stow’s Bakery, in which Andrew and Lord Stow are the same guy
At the end of October, an incident occurred where a customer was accidentally served five plastic pies when staff mistook them for real fresh pies. The Macau-based franchise, which typically has locations in Osaka, Nagoya and Kagoshima, opened a temporary booth at JR Tottori Station and customers flocked to the chance to get the rare treat. It would seem that in all the fuss, the order of inedible pies was delivered by mistake.
The company explained that part of the reason was that these particular food samples were designed to be hollow to save production costs. This also makes them much lighter than solid plastic sculptures and more difficult to distinguish from the weight of actual cakes. In addition, the attention to the appearance of the samples was so detailed that they even had the distinctive color and texture of pies that were baked off site and chilled instead of freshly baked..
It’s that same attention to detail that caused many online commenters to say they would consider themselves lucky to receive samples by mistake.
“I would prefer to have the samples.”
“I think the company that did the show should be proud.”
“Recent food replicas are amazing and really hard to tell the difference from the real thing.”
“A long time ago my father bought some souvenir sandwiches on a trip but they turned out to be samples. He couldn’t return them either because he was too far away, but that was fine with me.”
“I wonder how you can make it clear without ruining the look. Maybe stick it to a nice plate?
“There is such a thing as being very high quality.”
“It’s not like those silicone packets, but it’s probably a good idea to put a DO NOT EAT warning on them.”
“I wouldn’t mind buying a sample, but hopefully I’d figure it out before trying to eat it.”
According to Andrew’s Eggtart, a sampler costs roughly three times the 209 yen ($1.50) price of an actual tart, so anyone who ends up with one would be getting a bargain. Fortunately, in this most recent case, the customers were honest and brought the samples to exchange without any complaints.
This is actually the second time Andrew’s Eggtart had this issue with a similar bug occurring last January. After that happened, measures were put in place to prevent it from happening again, such as clearly explaining to part-time staff which pies were real and even refraining from setting up the fake pies unless a manager was present.
However, in the case of temporary pie stands, staffing is outsourced to local human resources who are not as well trained or experienced in dealing with such realistic food samples. Andrew’s Eggtart now says that they will also improve temporary location training to prevent this from happening a third time.
Source: Shukan Josei Prime, Twitter
Top Image: YouTube/Lord Stow’s Patisserie
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