I was reminded of this by a cake mix my wife turned into angel food the other day.
Long ago, my younger brother asked me to bake a cake. Not knowing it was supposed to be tricky, I simply got permission, got out a cake mix, and followed the instructions. Angel food, in the pan with an island. It was pretty good. We at the whole thing ourselves before it really had had a chance to cool.
I remember the mix: it came in a simple package and you added your own fresh egg. Much later I found out why this step was in the directions: it’s a marketing ploy.
In the age of multiple jobs, multi-tasking, not enough time, cake mixes were part of the solution to getting things done somehow. So the company made a cake mix to which you simply added water and stirred. It did not sell.
Enter marketing. Marketing said, the harried housewife does not feel she made a cake , if she just adds water and stirs. Mixing in your own fresh egg makes a personal contribution to the result. So the advertising and directions were changed to add this step.
It turns out that nothing in the cake mix was changed. You could still succeed without adding an egg, a fact rarely disclosed. The extra egg added a bit of body and fluff, I guess; but more importantly, it meant you put some of yourself, your own fresh egg, into dessert.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere. Humans need to feel that they contributed to the final result. Despite the pressure to be efficient, lazy, mechanized, we still want to add our own fresh egg.