Ugly is in as companies create yummy sweet goods that may not look pretty, but have a taste to die for, says Marina Mayer, managing editor.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

Ugly isn’t normally a term used to describe baked goods. I mean, who really wants to eat a dog-ugly-looking cookie, or a loaf of bread that looks as though someone sat on it before it was placed on the grocery store shelf?
    While many companies strive to create products that look appealing to the consumers’ eyes, others are focusing on the appearance of a product, but in a whole new way. In their case, taste rules and “ugly” has become a way of “cute,” or at least, different from the other products on the shelf.
    Take, for instance, the Ugly Hermit cookie, baked on demand and with zero preservatives, artificial colors and flavor enhancers.
    “The Hermit cookie is a family recipe,” says Regie Simmons, co-founder of the Ugly Hermit Cookie Co., LLC based in Upper Marlboro, Md. “My aunt Joan really embraced the tradition. Often times, she would not let the cookie cool properly, so when she packaged them in tin foil, they would stick together.”   
    Even people outside of the family voiced their opinions toward the appearance, Simmons says, because they always would comment on the “ugliness” of the cookies.
    “These aren’t the typical, perfectly round ‘pretty’ cookies that consumers purchase in stores,” he adds. “Rather, they are a bit on the ugly side. They’re homemade from a generations-old family recipe. It’s this ‘ugliness’ that gives the cookie its personality.”
    Introduced in March, the Ugly Hermit cookies blend raisins, nuts and cranberries into a soft texture that’s anything but soft on the eyes. The Cranberry Celebration variety marries spices and juicy cranberries, Fenelon Flavor is made from spices, plump raisins and walnuts, Juicy Jubilee contains spices mixed with plump raisins, Off-the-Walnuts delivers an amount of sweet and spice balanced with crunchy walnuts, and Perfectly Plain Jane offers a combination of spices and subtle flavors that can be enjoyed with hot tea or coffee.
    “[Naming the cookies after Aunt Joan] is just our way of continuing her legacy,” Simmons says.
    Then there’s the Apple Uglies, an accidental creation with a name that “just stuck,” says Matt DeBoer, president of Apple Baking Co. in Salisbury, N.C.
    Apple Uglies were created by three men who sought out to make honey buns, donuts and sweet rolls, but instead, were left with several batches of an “ugly” product.
    “Instead of throwing the product away, they decided to sell it,” DeBoer says. “The name created such a stir with consumers, that it just stuck. It’s an eye-catcher so to speak.”
    The Uglies consist of misshapen chunks of cooked dough with a sweet middle and doused with creamy icing, and they are available in Apple, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Raisin Honey and Raspberry varieties.
    Whether it be the shape, the color or the nickname of a family member, the term “ugly” reflects how an “accident” can result in an innovative product that captures consumers’ fancy.
    In the end, Americans are finding the beauty in these “ugly” products.

Marina Mayer, managing editor

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