Boxed pancake mix is one of the few processed foods I can fully endorse. The pre-made mixture of flour, shortening, salt, sugar and baking soda saves time by providing you with dry ingredients that are already in the right proportions. All you need from your kitchen are eggs and milk, although I’d also recommend a teaspoon or two of vanilla if you’ve got it. I have a soft spot for these mixes because they’re where I got my start in cooking. Spending Saturday mornings experimenting with additions such as chocolate chips, peanut butter, canned whipped cream or blueberries composed one of my first routine experiences of seasoning something to taste. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pancake add-ons: I know a few twisted, beautiful minds that have even tried savory modifications, such as strips of smoky bacon and sourdough starter.
In general, you can expect processed food to be chock-full of ingredients that have no safe level of consumption, such as high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and preservatives. Such is not the case with pancake mixes. Pitting pancake mix against items such as Slim Jims or Twinkies as if they’re equally processed is an unfair comparison. The former aids home-cooking by saving time, whereas the latter two are about as far removed as possible from their original source ingredients. Simply put, pancake mix is a tier above other processed foods.
With the advent of processed food and industrialization, quality is quite often sacrificed for convenience. Sure, making pancakes from scratch does taste marginally better, but I believe this is a case in which the trade-off is worth it. After all, can pancakes really be a comfort food if you have to gather flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, oil, eggs and milk and then clean it all up just to make breakfast? There is also a sense of nostalgia that comes with brand-name foods such as Bisquick pancakes, Kraft mac and cheese and any breakfast cereal. All things considered, it’s worth stocking your pantry with boxed pancake mix for its reliability, cost-effectiveness and convenience.