I enjoy eating sweets; I absolutely have a sweet tooth–too often with prone to cavities. One place I often get sweets is from the local “bakery.” I say “bakery” because although they sell pastries, various types of sandwiches, bread, and cookies, as far as I can tell, they do little more than put things in the oven. They don’t mix dough and actually create their products on site. Rather they receive them in a pre-baked form each morning. This is quite common among stores in Japan….space is scarce, especially at the local branch of large chains. Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t think of any small mom-and-pop style bakeries. On the contrary, “bakeries” are usually places where you can buy premium bread products manufactured and distributed from some centralized production facility. The pastries are still delicious, even without the wafting aroma is freshly baked bread. I’ve actually found the variety and creativity to be much greater than that found in traditional American bakeries.
Anyway, back to the point. I often go to the bakery to buy something for desert after dinner. There’s a certain chocolate donut that I really enjoy. The layer of chocolate place on the upper half of the donut is a bit thicker than one would usually expect. The unexpected thickness and addition of chocolate sprinkles makes it less of a chocolate donut and more of a soft, delicious candy bar melted on top of a donut. Now I’m hungry. Since eating one item usually leaves me wanting more, I often buy two or even three pastries for after dinner. I know that some people are thinking ?!?!?!?!??!!! about the calories, but it actually doesn’t really seem to affect me too much. I think I do quite a bit of walking (see this post about the Japanese lifestyle). When I first started going to the bakery, I would buy one chocolate donut (of course) and something else. This seemed natural for me. If I wanted two things I bought two different items. I usually ate the other pastry first and saved the donut so I could end my meal on the highest note possible.
I did that for about a year or two. Then, about a year ago I realized that I could just buy two chocolate donuts. While I was eating the non-donut pastry I wished I could be eating the chocolate donut instead. So I tried buying two chocolate donuts and found eating what I truly wanted was much more satisfying. I had been forgoing my actual desire for something lesser, even though there were no advantages to it. The non-donut pastry was not cheaper or less calories. If I was really worried about money or calorie intake I should’ve skipped eating desert entirely. The non-donut pastry was not superior in taste and the added variety did nothing to enhance the overall experience (I really, really preferred the chocolate donut).
So why had I been blindly spending my money/time/calories eating something I didn’t really want? The best answer I can come up with is that I was conditioned to have variety. Think about anything you’ve ever had two of…..TV’s, bags, binders, cars, headphones/stereo systems, etc. I think that in most cases people buy two different models/brands/colors/etc. In some cases different is very practical. If you have two projects at work, having two binders of the same color can get quite confusing. But, in cases such as pastries, why not get exactly what you want? Even in the case of TV’s……suppose you buy one for your living room and it’s great. You’re happy with the quality and would definitely buy the same model again. Now you want another TV for some other room in the house. If you’re really happy with the one sitting in the living room, why not buy the same model? You know it works well and that the quality is high. Why get something you think will probably be inferior just to get something different? Even if it’s the same, why not get exactly what you want?