AS a child, one of my favourite books was Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, part of a series which chronicled the adventures of four children as they travelled to fantastical worlds through an enchanted tree.

Jo, Bessie and the unfortunately named Dick and Fanny would climb up the tree and pop through the clouds at the top to wind up in all manner of exciting worlds, like the “land of toys” or the “land of presents” or, my favourite, the “land of do as you please”, which is exactly what it says: Bessie eats six ice creams at once, Jo hijacks a train, and Fanny rides an elephant before they all go “wading in the sea”. They had humble dreams, those kids.

Anyway this week it dawned on me that, these days, all of us live in the land of do as you please pretty much all the time.

Adults are becoming ever more like children as our every stupid whim is catered to by someone out to make a buck, and nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of food.

When we couldn’t decide whether we wanted a croissant or a doughnut, we invented the “cronut” so we could eat both at the same time.

Rather than choose between a meat pie or a pizza, we took meat pies and stuffed them into a pizza crust.

Then came the “freakshake”: giant milkshakes with cakes and lollies stuck on top so we could enjoy a cool drink while we were developing type 2 diabetes.

These are all egregious abuses of culinary practice, of course, not to mention common decency, and we should all feel a little bit ashamed. Yet nothing has made me so regretful of our “do as you please” attitude to food than this week’s news that certain Australian supermarkets are already selling hot cross buns.

Not just innocuous fruit buns with white crosses accidentally daubed on the top either, but real, legit hot cross buns with “Happy Easter” written on the packet.

No sooner have we celebrated Jesus’s birth in a manger than we’re trying to crucify him. The modern world is tough.

The “bun fight” made the news on Tuesday, complete with “hopping mad” and “cross about buns” headlines, after one shopper in Coffs Harbour, NSW, spotted the offending items at his local Woolies and posted a photo on Facebook with the caption “Woolworths has seriously lost the plot”.

The thing is, it’s not Woolworths which has lost the plot, it’s us. While there’s definitely more than a whiff of “PR stunt” about this whole thing - the buns are only available in select stores, for one thing - it’s unlikely Woolies would sell hot cross buns at Christmas time if people weren’t keen to buy them.

And going by the reaction on social media this week, people certainly are. I know one person who drove straight to her nearest Woolies.

If enough of us want hot cross buns in December, and Easter eggs in January, and Christmas pudding and mince pies in June, some enterprising people will always help us part with our money. There’s just something a bit sad about it.

These seasonal treats aren’t just food, they’re important seasonal symbols. They’re tokens of tradition that mark the special holidays on our calendars, and keep us connected to our past. If they’re suddenly available all year round, part of the excitement and magic of those holidays is lost.

Yes, hot cross buns are delicious, but for the sake of tradition, we need to stop stuffing our gobs with them 100 days out from Easter. Otherwise you may as well just give up and eat birthday cake for breakfast every day - and even Dick and Fanny got sick of that in the “land of birthdays”.


First published in The Advertiser on December 29, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.