Will Popularity Ruin the Macaron?

From a very weird article in the Wall Street Journal:

Like the cupcake before it, the macaron, a French confection that resembles a pastel-colored sandwich cookie, is ready for its close-up.

It has been featured on film and television, in magazine articles and a new book called “I Love Macarons” by a Japanese pastry chef. Once the preserve of high-end French patisseries such as Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, macarons are showing up at retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Starbucks. Even McDonald’s is selling a scaled-down version in its McCafés in France, backed by ads showing two hands holding the tiny treat like a hamburger.

Instead of celebrating, however, fans of the meringue-like pastry have been whipped into a frenzy.

“Macarons are not meant to be mainstream,” sniffs Laetitia Brock, a native of Paris who has been blogging about French culture from Washington for the past six years.

I…jus…Bwah?? Macarons are not meant to be mainstream? What does that even mean?

I say this as a tremendous fan of the delicate pastry, and am lucky enough to have a bakery within walking distance from my house that makes a passable version (although they do tend to let them sit out too long.) To imply that these treats are too “French”, or too “upscale” is ludicrous both at face value and after a minute of introspection. Yes, mainstream, large-scale chains and corporations who tread down the path of making macarons will offer up passable, yet mediocre versions. But that’s what these places do for nearly every product they offer to the public. Why should macarons be any different?

You know what I would love to see happen? Starbucks and/or McDonalds should start offering their mediocre versions in their restaurants, and then local coffee shops/bakeries who have been offering cupcakes for the past three years realize they can do a much better job at making them will start doing so. Voila!

Macarons entering the mainstream is a good thing. And because there are so many people who love them passionately, we’re almost assured of finding better alternatives to the mediocrity that corporate chains will invariably produce.

What tickles me about all of this is the air of arrogance that the article alludes to within some of the interviewees. They sound nearly as pretentious as a few indie rock critics I’ve read in the past who’ve said things along the lines of, “Pfft. Macarons were so much better before they sold out.”