There is a genre of online content known as “oddly satisfying videos.” These are the weird clips of disembodied hands doing strange activities that clog your discover page on any given social media platform.
For most of these, I believe the word “oddly” applies to the word “satisfying” in that I am utterly mystified as to how any of them could be categorized as in any way soothing or pleasurable to watch. Soap cutting? Don’t care. Slime videos? Off-putting at best. Those weird, inexplicable piles that I can only describe as knockoffs of cult classic as-seen-on-TV item Moon Sand™? Mostly just make me recollect the Moon Sand™ my mother made me throw away when I was 11.
But there is one oddly satisfying subgenre I will fully admit to enjoying, and that is the cake decorating video. I would watch armless hands frost and adorn sweet treats while cheerful instrumentals play until the end of time. Although that might just be because I like cake.
The natural successor to the oddly satisfying cake decorating video is the Aesthetically Pleasing Cake Decorating Netflix Documentary, and the heir apparent to that genre I just made up is no doubt the Christina Tosi episode of Chef’s Table.
The thing that is terrible about fancy desserts, like oddly satisfying videos, is that I think most of them are gross and I hate them. Unlike oddly satisfying videos, which are free but for the cost on your spirit, fancy desserts are expensive. I would vastly prefer paying $1.25 for a Reese’s egg at any CVS in America to dropping $12 on a Cherry Pistachio Ricotta Mousse Concoction Extravaganza.
The exception to this rule is Milk Bar.
Milk Bar is the dessert-themed fever dream of pastry chef Christina Tosi and Momofuku mastermind David Chang. It is, without exaggerating or hyperbolizing, the greatest idea ever in the history of the universe.
Tosi is a dessert genius and a respected chef, but she doesn’t take disgusting bougie things and make us spend our precious calories and cash on them in the name of elegance. Instead, she takes things everyone loves — birthday cake, breakfast cereal,
basically just straight up butter — and runs them through her evil sugar genius brain, somehow making them even better. Menu highlights include cereal milk ice cream (soft serve flavored like the milk that’s left after a bowl of cereal); crack pie (I cannot even explain this but to say: butter and sugar in the best pie crust you’ve ever had in your simple life); compost cookies (you’ve heard of cookies? Imagine that, except with potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, oats, graham crackers, chocolate and butterscotch chips); and birthday cake truffles (BIRTHDAY. CAKE. TRUFFLES).
The only way I have continued living my life separate from these goodies is through my acceptance of two truths: 1) Milk Bar products can be sourced in New York and online, and 2) I do not have the fund$ to drop fifty bucks for a six-inch cake to be shipped to me via the internet.
Then the Harvard Square location of Milk Bar opened, and my brain ceased functioning.
Since its opening, I have nonstop bugged everyone who so much as makes eye contact with me to journey with me to a magical place called Cambridge, in a Cinderella-esque horse-drawn carriage known as the Red Line, in order to wait in a crowded, poorly laid out room until we are deemed worthy of forking over exorbitant amounts of money (between six and fifty-plus dollars) for pre-made, often plastic-wrapped treats. Shockingly, no one was that interested.
Eventually, I dragged my sweet sweet out-of-town friends to the sweet sweet baked-goods mecca. Before we were permitted entry into the hallowed halls, we had to wait outside, presumably to prove our merit. A very official (by which I mean clipboard-carrying) woman handed us beautiful menus.
I, torn between my appreciation of cake-based aesthetics and my blind deference to Christina Tosi’s divine authority, thought about making it my permanent possession, but ultimately my humble respect for those with clipboards won out. I gave it back, and traded it (and also six dollars) for the ambrosia of the birthday cake truffle.
It is now my only goal in this life to reach a status that will allow me to refuse to ingest anything that has not been blessed by the approval of Christina Tosi. Even though, in truth, I think cereal milk is lightly gross in both concept and execution, I would request Tosi curate my entire life.
I recommend anything birthday cake (both a perpetually accurate declaration and a Milk Bar-specific call to action) and the crack pie. Also, I want to live inside Milk Bar @ Harvard Square like the children live in the Met in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. That is all.