Live At The Gilmore

Live at the Gilmore: Chocolate Mug Cakes + FLASH DISSERATION on Dracula, Mug Cakes and Coziness

Mug Cake Review & new genre FLASH DISSERTATION



MUG IT: Dr. Oestker’s Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix

life cycle of the mug cake

I am new to the mug cake/brownie racket and to be frank uncertain I am wholly on board. Staring into the depths of my Dr. Oestker’s Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix it smelled and looked good, sure, but I couldn’t quite figure out just…what a cake was doing there in my mug. Seemed like it had gotten lost and like those displaced turkeys showing up outside the movie theater in Brookline somewhat disconcerting. Perhaps I lack imagination. Or am a classicist.

Yet, if I were a mug-cake eater, I very well might—so many snacks to try in the world—might—buy Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix again. Especially if somehow frosting got brought into the works, as frosting is 70-80% of my cake-ingesting motivation.

I crossed paths with Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix striding in typical first-world gatherer fashion at the grocerying store. I halted in front of the display arrested by: 1) mug cake mix? 2) the latchkey food for adults factor I find so intriguing and 3) the old-timey moniker “Dr. Oestker’s” sounded like a line of orthotic shoes and intriguingly unappetizing for a nom de gateaux (also: “Dr.”?) 4) I was intrigued by the dimensions of the small narrow box as they are much like a chicken noodle soup mix I OD’d on one revelatory winter in the impecunious days of my extreme youth. I tell you that soup had the strangest noodle fragments swirling like schools of noodle sardines in a vast chicken-soup-colored-sea. I’d eat out of the pan in my coat, staring out the large, drafty windows at the weak winter light, feeling careless, free, and totally doomed at the same time.

Ahem. Anyway! Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix is as instant as it gets. 4 tablespoons of milk, a few stirs, a carousel ride in the microwave and VOILA: cake. After greasing one’s mug (it is too bad I am uninclined to double-entendres) it is possible to slide cake out onto a plate. Doubting Gilmore has reservations. Still: package says.

While not exactly predisposed to disappointment, my expectations were in alignment with reality, I think, being as this product is more on the astronaut end of the food continuum. That it might be more cake-flavored (have you tried Birthday Cake MnMs?) than actual cake seemed not impossible.

But (v) small, happy surprise (hang on to ‘em tight, kids, we have some harrowing timez ahead), it became indubitably cake. Reminiscent of lava cake only with a commitment to go the distance of cooked, the center squishy rather than liquidly.

And, by Betty Crocker, I thought it tasted better than alotta box/oven cakes. You know that aftertaste following a big bite of DuncanPillsburyHines? Like your mouth is a vaulted ceiling in a cathedral where the floors were recently cleaned and a faint miasma of disinfectant hovers in the eaves? And while you’re glad the floors are clean and sure you can’t quite say the smell is prohibiting a religious experience, it may be mitigating it? I attribute that taste in box cake to whatever sinister machinations have to go down for cake mix Xtreme shelf life.

So I’ve described in laborious metaphoric terms ways how Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix is not bad. But how was it good? I would say how the food on a French airline tends to more like a literal interpretation of food, as in food. Or, if you’ve ever worked catering, as the night wears on, and you are bored and hungry and footsore and hate your goddamned bowtie and you notice an abandoned dessert plate. You find yourself squirreling the cake away behind a vase and furtively snack on it later, deciding the risk of discovery and germs was fully worth it in this case. Does that make it sound good? I thought it was good.

does not take directions well: microwave cake as ovened brownies

I ate about half of my Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix and put the rest in the freezer—I forget why exactly—and when I pulled it out again, the cake and I exchanged a long soul-searching glance—and I reluctantly pitched it. A mug cake is an ephemeral creature, I think. Hang on tightly, let go lightly, as Buddha said. Or .38 Special. Someone. But I am back to coffee in mugs. And cake on plates. But perverse creature that I am I will confess I baked my remaining boxes of Dr. Oestker’s Instant Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix in the oven as brownies. Hey, I may be a nice gal from Ohio but nobody tells me what to do. Nobody. Fuck mugs. Wait, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Just go ahead, eat a mug cake. Do it. DO IT. See what happens. Then send me a mug. Or a cake. Or really just tell me what you think.



Coziness Cultivated and Reviled: (in)conclusions from an Inattentive Listening of Dracula on Audiobook and Consumption of Instant Individual Mug Cake Mix

desire liberated and contained

As metaphor for a much of human behavior, micro, macro and megmacro, vampirism is pretty perfect. It also works as vunderbarz material for creating art, books, movies, etc. But it has never totally been my favorite handbag, so to speak. Maybe fangs bore me? Blood? Necks? Hmm. In fairness, generally, I can kinda take or leave the supernaturalia.

So I’d given Dracula a miss until it became free with my audiobook subscription. I figured it might fill in ignorance gaps, RE: a) litterachewar (o’ neglected cannon) b) culture, as muchos subgroups like goth, emo, glam, S&M seem to owe something there and c) insight into Today’s Youth, many of whom seem to have been almost exclusively entertained by yearn-y vampire books and movies for the last ten years.

BramS, King of Fevered Imaginings

Now to me Bram Stoker sounded like a stuffy Victorian who might write stodgily about an exciting monster—but nay, nay, Bram-O was a Potboiler King who wrote thrillingly about the most grotesque Antichrist. So thrillingly, in fact, it kind of wore me out. WHAT A BOOK.

At some point (hour 4? 5?) as another unfortunate gal in a nightie was beset by mean bats and wolves outside the window, I began to wonder if Dracula wasn’t at least in part about coziness.

Coziness? Heh? you might very well say. If you are attuned to coziness as I (and I am indeed both as practitioner and morbidly fascinated observer of others) you may have noticed the occasional arms race, if you will, in the realms of the gemütlichkeit. Maybe it starts with someone glad to be sitting in a favorite squishy chair when cold rain is pattering outside. Add a purring cat. Maybe the rain ramps up to a blizzard and you might throw in a mug of cocoa. Ah, supercozy. Smother everything in an afghan. No, wait, make it snowbound by blizzard. Add roaring fire. Wait, add a suspicious death in town and a downed telephone wire. Really there’s nothing like crime, bad weather or generalized menace to score you some pharmaceutical grade coziness.

lingers and lingers and lingers and lingers…

And who, now, but this Dracula fella and his minions make you appreciate your comfy-coziness by invading your home, your eating habits, your sleeping patterns, your marriage, your virtue, your country, your sanity and ultimately, and most insultingly, your death. Dracula makes the angel-of-the-house more angelic and in turn she makes Dracula more transgressive yet. YING-YANG, baby. At what point does snugness becomes incarceration is interesting especially when you are talking about Victorian era. But that’s for another Flash Dissertation.

So what in the bloody blazes does this have to do with a mug snack cake mix you might ask? Well, for one, I was listening to Dracula when reviewing Dr. Oestker’s Chocolate Individual Mug Cake Mix that’s what, creating an association that may go with me to my (untroubled, let’s hope) grave. And yes this is less about a perfect parallel than one thing evoking each other. For example, it would be incorrect to say a mug cake is to a human like a human is to a Dracula. And I cannot imagine Dracula enjoying a blood mug cake (I am under the impression Bram Stoker’s vampires are like the seals who only eat live fish and will swim about indifferent as dead herrings rain about them).

But while this is the case there’s a more there (or: there’s a more more there—?) which I would like to toodle about in for a spell. O’ ambivalently governed ungovernable appetites. It’s possible I may trip over my own soapboxes as I do so. But then, who doesn’t?

You may have noticed how neatly the untrammeled, deeply icky wants of vampires work as an expression of a culture’s freaked-out feelings about sex. Of course you have. What are you, an idiot? Everyone has.

I don’t know why Wednesday (is it more cozy than other days?) but imagine murderer lurking outside

Now food, especially certain foods (like: cake), have been bait-and-switched as a conduit for our desires in a way well not soooooooo-o-o-OOO-o-o-o different from vampirical bloodlust. It’s often less about forbidden fruit as, like, a forbidden donut, you might say to put it overly simply. There seems to be a well of endless self-reproach around eating these forbidden foods that rivals and surpasses actual shitty things people do to one another. Some of the soldiers in the yoga/organic eating/mindfulness army that exists thick on ground where I live, at least, for all the thoughts and deeds and bettering of the world at work, can, occasionally, and with remarkable unselfconsciousness, lapse into a form of Puritanism. Purity in terms of coziness is that nice safe place of a clean conscience. Or if your standards are a little lower, caring about having one.

Mugs may I suggest, evoke cozy things—all those hot drinks. Pad to the kitchen in your slippers to make a nice squishy mug cake before settling down with your mystery stories and the most challenging decision you’ll have to make is: spoon or fork? It’s just really hard to imagine something horrible happening while eating a mug cake.

Now to be ferociously literal: a cake in a mug is a serving, one you can eat less of but not more. If you want another you’d have to start over which isn’t prohibitive but requires conscious intention (rinse out mug? get new mug?) in a way that mindlessly chomping through a bag of Oreos or Doritos does not. Your desires aren’t craven as a mug-cake eater. To have one’s wants under some sort of mug-sized control, if you will, and to discover they are not mugless AND able to be met is a cozy thing indeed.


Now many of us have been terrorized (note inflammatory rhetoric, see previous comment about soapboxes) into thinking treats are always ill-advised, so some might feel snack cake on par with sucking blood out of a nice person, i.e. there’s not small quantity of sin. In any case, not only do vampires want terrible things, they don’t fight their wants. One might consider if vampires unashamedly abandoning themselves to their desires is the most frightening aspect of them. And that’s just essentially exciting, a form of liberation.

Maybe one thing I felt resistant to about Dracula is suspecting some disingenuousness in it as a morality play. It’s a hell of a story, don’t get me wrong, but outside of the child murder it seems, like Chick comic heavy metal storylines (Jack Chick, R.I.P.), to be advertising the thing it seems to be reviling.

Thomas Kinkade painting pillowcase, editorialized

Now, I’m  proud that I’ve gotten this far without turning this into a rant about Thomas Kincaid, as he is a false god of coziness and quite possibly my mortal enemy (I know he is dead, I speak of T.K. as the artiste not the man, who I do not have a beef with). I’d like to set a vampire movie in one of his paintings or pillowcases made out of his paintings and see how it plays out. His paintings are like perversions of mug cakes. Just google it—see if you don’t see what I mean. If uberawful Dracula is on one end of the cozy spectrum (the uncozyiest), then TK my friends, is on the other (the grosscoziest).

As humans we long for liberation as much as we long for containment and we long for from freedom from passions. Oh, it’s SO HARD. Over and over, round and round: vampire. Mug cake. Vampire. Mug Cake. And everything in between.

You don’t have to agree with me, just nod and smile.

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