Anecdote Index





.....The..Violet..Coloured..Cake........ ...

(18) by Will Nijsse


Here are two stories which imply that Lyons were apt to take little notice of market needs and national and pallet preferences or advice from local experts, surely a serious shortcoming for any organization attempting to sell product or services outside their own borders.

When a UK cake product was successful, it was sent over to the Continent in order to sell it there. An example was a newly introduced Lyons Bakery Dessert Cake having a dark violet colour and a dry texture. A container of this odd coloured cake was sent to Holland where the Hooimeijer Group were called upon to sell it. But...the Dutch, who are not great cake-eaters in the first place, and when they do eat cake they prefer a cake to be light yellow and havng a slightly moist texture. Furthermore the Dutch do not have a sweet tooth, like they say, so cake in Holland is always mild and never too dry.

So not surprisingly this violet cake did not find it's way onto many Dutch tea tables and even free samples disappeared in the dustbin. It is alledged that Lyons management was furious, and said in public that the Dutch are extraordinary people and in reaction to that, one of Hooimeijer's staff involved in this operation said that this was not true but the Dutch simply do not like Desert Cake (with one s! ).

In the Lyons owned Paris hotel 'The Commodore' a Carvery service was newly introduced, similar to some in the London Strand Hotels. However nobody told Lyons (or perhaps they did) that the French do not like to go and fetch their own food especially in a expensive restaurant and on top of that they find a dripping piece of meat, the size of a bag of potatoes, disgusting. Located in an area where you can find at least 100 restaurants on a square kilometer, you can very precisely forecast that the introduction of the Carvery service is not going to be universally met with enthusiasm.


© Will Nijsse 2003