Photo by the author; illustration from Jim Cooke.

Someone—or, more likely, several dozen someones—died so you could enjoy mushrooms. Thousands of years ago, people learned which mushrooms were poisonous after some brave soul got sick or died. This knowledge spread, and now we know that crimini mushrooms are both non-toxic and delicious.

It is an amazing time for the amateur cook. After a colleague ranked something called “furikake” as one of his favorite popcorn toppings, I discovered it was a fish-tasting Japanese seasoning, and that it could be at my house in two days (or 10 minutes, if I walked down the street to the Japanese grocery store).

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But while these resources are, on balance, a great thing, the amateur cook misses out by not having to explore the properties of food on his or her own. When we simply accept the conventional wisdom of what something is, what it’s good for, and how it should be cooked, we don’t understand that ingredient as completely as if we’d figured all that stuff out on our own.

The other day, I spotted something called creamed honey at the grocery store. It was obviously honey (that had been creamed?), but the container gave no other indication of how it was different than normal honey, or why it would be superior. So of course I bought it as a means of writing about it, but I also decided to dive right in and try to understand what it was, rather than read about it beforehand.

What did you put it on?

I asked the Deadspin staff what foods they normally ate honey with; I ignored Hannah’s asinine claim that honey is good on pizza, but tried out a handful of other suggestions. I also tried these foods with regular honey that comes in a bottle shaped like a bear, too, to understand the differences.

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I tried creamed honey on a peanut butter and honey sandwich:

Creamed honey: bottom. Bear honey: top.

On a baguette with butter:

Creamed honey: top. Bear honey: bottom.

On plain Greek yogurt:

Creamed honey: left. Regular honey: right.

And, finally, with soy sauce as a marinade for stir-fry:

Creamed honey: right. Bear honey: left. Not that you can tell.

So what is it?

At its most basic, creamed honey tastes like bear honey, but that is much too simple. This is an odd thing to say about a food that is almost pure sugar, but compared to the creamed honey, bear honey tastes bland. An equal portion of creamed honey doesn’t taste sweeter so much as it tastes richer. I feel like a food snob writing this, but the creamed honey has depth and complexity to its flavor.

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As the pictures demonstrate, the creamed honey is much thicker than regular honey. This is actually kind of a pain in the ass, as it refuses to separate from whatever you stick into the container to scoop it out. It’s mostly just an annoyance, but was an actual problem when making the honey-soy sauce marinade, as the creamed honey wouldn’t combine well with the soy sauce.

The difference between the two honeys was most noticeable when eating the Greek yogurt. The yogurt and creamed honey was a delightful little treat, while the yogurt and bear honey felt like I was desperately trying to make something unpalatable taste sweet. It was also much better on the peanut butter and honey sandwich: look at how the bear honey sinks into the bread and makes it soggy, while the creamed honey sits proudly on top.

The creamed honey wasn’t as good on the baguette with butter, because it was overpowering; I imagine it would be quite good on something heartier, like beer bread or a wheat loaf. And while I imagine a honey-soy sauce glaze on stir fry could be good if I perfected it, it was too sweet, and materially indistinguishable from the glaze made with the honey bear.

Are you gonna buy more of it?

I still don’t quite “know” what creamed honey is (and damned if I’m going to find out at this point), but yes. In the past, I’ve never really thought about honey—I just put it on appropriate foods occasionally. But ever since eating the creamed honey, I think a lot about what foods it would be good on, and what random combinations I should try next.

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I might even try it on pizza.


Bougie Food Reviews is an irregular series where we review the most highfalutin products available in the grocery store. If you’ve got an idea for a future review, email the author here.