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Straight Croissants Are Wreaking Havoc in the UK

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Retail giant Tesco is deviating from the traditional French pastry, and some people are freaking out.

Frédéric Bisson/Flickr

Is a croissant still a croissant if it's not shaped like a crescent? UK retail giant Tesco is ditching the traditional French pastry shape in favor of a straight version, and the move is raising plenty of eyebrows in both nations, reports the New York Times.

According to Tesco's croissant buyer Harry Jones, the reason for the switch is practicality — or more specifically, "spreadability." A company statement claims that demand for the curved pastries has fallen recently, and that nearly 75 percent of customers say they prefer the straight version. “The majority of shoppers find it easier to spread jam, or their preferred filling, on a straighter shape with a single sweeping motion,” says Jones, seemingly completely serious.

"With the crescent-shaped croissants, it’s more fiddly, and most people can take up to three attempts to achieve perfect coverage, which increases the potential for accidents involving sticky fingers and tables," he continues. The statement also notes that Tesco customers "believe straighter croissants are more sophisticated and are of a better quality."

Brits being too lazy to spread jam on curved pastries seems awfully ridiculous, but there are larger cultural and political implications at play here that take a seemingly silly issue beyond the breakfast table. According to London newspaper The Times, Tesco's move to oust the croissant in its traditional form is "a major culinary snub" to the French, and the timing is "indelicate": Britain is preparing to hold a referendum on whether or not the UK will remain part of the European Union, and this innocent-seeming pastry debacle is being perceived by some as a symbol of a nation that's already beginning to distance itself from its other European peers.

When it comes to crescent-shaped breakfast pastries, it seems nothing is sacred anymore: In Italy, the popular croissant-esque morning pastries known as cornettos are now almost exclusively commercially made and baked from a frozen state.

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