Here is my theory of tomato inflation and latte carcinisation

What else have you noticed that degrades over time? What are the organisational equivalents of these theories?


Tomato inflation

When I was a kid, the tomatoes from Derek, our local greengrocer, were *proper tasty*.

Juicy and full of flavour.

In those days, you could confidently buy a tomato in any shop, and it tasted of tomato.

This is my favourite tomato: the Novosadski Jabucar. The Serbian word for tomato is ‘paradise’.

If you grow your own, or live in or visit a country still connected to the land, you might still experience this today. But.

An excitement of my youth was the arrival on the market of cherry tomatoes. This was a big deal! Sweet, juicy — these were proper tomatoes!

Because the ordinary tomatoes had, somehow, got less good.

Bland. Uninspiring. Flavourless.

Then, you know what? They brought them back! Or, at least, Tomatoes On The Vine. These were the real deal. Luscious, bursting with real flavour.

Which was a good job, because the cherry tomatoes had somehow… lost their edge. Started to seem a bit plastic.

Eventually, Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine supplanted the ordinary vine variety… and we’re now on to heirloom tomatoes.

Every few years, Tomato Inflation has you chasing that real tomato taste.

Plum tomatoes, beef tomatoes, heritage tomatoes. Cherry plums. Vine ripened. Golden. The Kumato.

It could be partly mineral depletion in our soil. Partly expectations and the bringing of a new thing to market. And partly a genuine inflationary effect when the old thing gets mass-produced, cheapified, loses what makes it special. I’ll link to a couple of articles about the tomato business.


The Latte event horizon is a parallel phenomenon.

It’s like carcinisation — the process by which everything evolves into a crab.

Eventually, every coffee becomes a latte.

Let’s not talk of the coffee of my childhood, please. Back then, a pan of milk cooked with generous teaspoons of Gold Blend was the height of luxury.

Then, we discovered cappuccino, Roman-style. A small, strong espresso shot, tight foam not overblown and burned, a swirl of the milk and coffee.

And, over time, the capu got bigger and bigger, the milk more dominant, looser, the coffee bloated. A latte.

Then came the Flat White, thanks to our Antipodean friends.

Double ristretto and just the right measure of microfoam milk.

Just like a cappuccino in Rome… 

…and now you can buy a flat white in a 20oz bucket! More latte.

What’s your take on this (anti) pattern?

Do you have examples?

Is there anything we can do about it?


Coupla links on tomatoes:

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