Lesley Kennedy

Can Fast Food Ever Be “Artisanal”?

sauce on pizza crustDon’t you think the ad line for Domino’s new “Artisan Pizza” kind of says it all: “We’re not artisans.”


No, Domino’s you’re really not. Sure, you might do the trick with pizza when our hormones are raging, the kids are screaming for dinner, the Bud Light is calling to us from the fridge, and there’s no way on earth we’re actually going to cook anything ourselves tonight. But even then, we’ll stick with cheese and pepperoni, thank you very much. You’re not fooling us with Tuscan Salami & Roasted Veggie. Like the kids would ever touch that.


And you and your fellow chains and mass-market brands aren’t fooling us with the word artisan, either. Artisan, it seems, is the food word du jour, with companies twisting the term for handcraftsmanship into a marketing gimmick used to sell mass quantities at steeper prices.


In fact, USA Today reports, more than 800 new food products in the past five years have pronounced themselves “artisan.” You’ll find Tostitos Artisan Recipes chips in flavors like Roasted Garlic & Black Bean. You’ll find Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches at Starbucks, made with gouda, applewood smoked bacon, and egg. You’ll find Artisan Pastries at Panera. You’ll find an Artisan Egg Sandwich at Wendy’s and the new Chef’s Choice meat bomb from Burger King served on an “artisan bun.”  Do you need a hand-sewn vintage hankie to wipe that drool from the corner of your mouth? Yeah, we didn’t think so—well, maybe for a pecan braid.


Here’s the thing: When Domino’s takes the word “artisan” and turns it into a jokey sales pitch, isn’t it time America wises up and laughs in the face of these pretend products? True artisan food is not mass-produced. It’s something that’s often passed on from grandparent to daughter or son to child. It’s a craft that demands attention to ingredients, methods, and materials. It’s definitely not a processed bag of chips sold by the case, breakfast eggs molded in a perfect flat circle served on a previously frozen bun, or a pizza delivered to your house in 30 minutes or less.


Actually, on second thought, tell the kids to pipe down, toss us an apron, and grab us that beer. Turns out, we are cooking tonight. How ’bout you?


Forget the takeout. Home-cooked stuffed-crust pizza can be yours in just about a half-hour.


Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed-Crust Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza




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