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Dessert Meal Kits Are Here and They’re Absolutely Terrible

Do you really need a box of pre-measured sugar and eggs?

Person baking cookies using a Chef'd meal kit
You do not need a “meal kit” for this
Business Wire

Meal kit delivery services are currently all the rage, with everyone from Martha Stewart to Ayesha Curry to Amazon and the New York Times getting in the game. So of course, it was only a matter of time until someone decided to assemble a dessert version. Meal kit startup Chef’d has done just that in a partnership with Hershey’s, and it’s a travesty.

A dessert meal kit certainly has the potential to be cool: Making great desserts, even seemingly simple ones, isn’t easy; baking and pastry requires precision. An all-in-one kit to help novice home cooks whip up an impressive panna cotta, souffle, matcha cheesecake, or seasonal fruit tart could be pretty neat, even if only for a rather niche group of consumers.

But the Chef’d/Hershey’s partnership is simply severely overpriced boxes of baking ingredients coupled with an excessive amount of packaging. Options include typically homey baking projects like chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, and red velvet brownies, priced anywhere from $18 to $30 (or $2 to $4 per serving).

Take, for instance, those red velvet brownies. The box includes pre-measured, individually packaged portions of literally everything you need to make 24 unnaturally-colored brownies, including eggs, butter, sugar, and a box of white cake mix. That’s right, Chef’d wants you to pay $30 for the privilege of baking brownies from a mix, and you still have to supply the pan, the oven, and the elbow grease.

The amount of energy and resources consumed by someone measuring out ingredients that the vast majority of Americans already have in their kitchens — sugar! eggs! vanilla extract! — and then individually packaging them and shipping them across the country is, frankly, grotesque.

By marketing them as “meal kits,” Chef’d is seemingly attempting to put these boxes full of cake mix and Hershey bars in the same category as a Blue Apron or a Marley Spoon. In reality, they more closely resemble the boxes of brownie mix sold at every grocery store in America — or perhaps Taco Bell’s oh-so-fancy cinnamon nachos dessert kit that hit stores back in 2014 with a suggested retail price of $2.99 — except exponentially more expensive and wasteful.

I don't need this, you don't need this, nobody needs this, and the sheer existence of this product is mind-boggling. Bake cookies from scratch using one of eleven gazillion free recipes that can be found on the internet, buy a box of mix on your next trip to the grocery store, or patronize your friendly local bakery. Just don’t let a desire for fresh, warm baked goods with a minimum of effort lure you into the overpriced insanity that is these “dessert meal kits.”

Chef’d Partners With Hershey to Introduce Dessert Meal Kits [BusinessWire]
Meal Kit Services Are Hugely Popular — But Are They Profitable? [E]
Is Blue Apron the Future of Home Cooking in America? [E]