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The Secret Blend

What do Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have in common? Besides the fact that you should enjoy them in moderation, I mean.

A secret formula.

Sure, a lot of restaurants and food makers have undisclosed seasonings or cooking methods, but they aren’t part of the ad campaigns. Dr Pepper advertises a blend of 23 different flavors in their soda. KFC, of course, has its famous “11 herbs and spices.” Coca-Cola takes it a step further by allowing only two employees at a time to know the complete formula, and keeps their identities a secret as well.

If you look online, copycat recipes are a big thing. I’ve tried many of them, and while they were close, no one has managed to produce an exact copy of popular fast foods. The biggest issue is that industrial-scale cooking methods can’t be accurately recreated in a home kitchen.

Even non-chain family restaurants can be hesitant to share. I’ve been trying to get the recipe for the salsa at my favorite Mexican place for two years. Then there’s my local Honduran restaurant, where the food is literally cooked by several grandmothers, none of whom use set recipes. There’s no point in even asking, because the answer will change from person to person and from day to day.

June 10 is National Herbs and Spices Day, so take some time to experiment with different blends for your favorite dishes. Who knows? You might create the next big restaurant chain. Have a look at these cooking mugs for some inspiration!

1. Counting Calories

If it’s the fat that makes food taste so good, I must be delicious!

2. Only One

Do a good job as the sous-chef, and you can be the executive chef one day. Until then, though…

3. Substitutions

Ever see a recipe with a low rating, and then discover the cook changed almost everything? No wonder it didn’t turn out well.

4. To Go

Better have a few takeout places on your speed dial if you’re going to complain. Or learn to do it yourself.

5. Worth It

There are certain dishes that I know will fill my kitchen with smoke. They are also some of my favorites, so I have to take the batteries out of the alarm fairly regularly.

6. Lèse-majesté

Whatever they make, I suggest just eating it and smiling. See #4 above.

7. Getting Better!

It’s best to practice on a small scale before you volunteer to cook for the masses.

8. To Have and To Hold

There has to be some pressure on a chef’s spouse whenever they walk into the kitchen. Also available for husbands.

9. It Has Four Sides for a Reason

If you only use the box grater for shredding cheese, you’re missing out. Make chocolate sprinkles, citrus zest, grate veggies and fruits to be incorporated into baking, and so much more.

10. Salads 101

Part nutrition, part chemistry, part laboratory. And it changes according to the cuisine you’re focusing on. It’s interesting, but it’s also work.

That’s just a sample of the fun chef mugs we stock. Hit that link to see the whole collection. Have a family of cooks? Remember that U.S. orders of two or more mugs get free shipping. You’ll save enough to get that new spice you’ve been wanting to try!