recent USA Today article brings to light the growing trend of referring to food products as “artisan, ” with the number of “artisan” products in store shelves having doubled in the last four years. The word “artisan” implies that a product has been created with care by a craftsperson, yet these seem to be mass-marketed and -produced products. (Nevermind the fact that the  “artisan” refers to to craftsperson, while “artisanal” refers to the product itself.)

Now, when a company sub-brands its product as “artisan,” as is the case with Tostitos chips or Domino’s Pizza, what does that say about the rest of their products? Seems to me that the flip-side to going up-market with a sub-brand is that you’re admitting some sort of deficiency in the rest of your products. At the very least, it raises questions…

– Are “regular” Tostitos not as tasty as their “artisan” counterparts?  
– If my “artisinal” Domino’s pizza is hand-crafted, what about the rest of their pizzas? 

Like “organic” and “natural” before it, “artisan”seems to be the next ill-defined food buzzword.

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