What bakers don’t want you to know

Photo from the Gubernatorial Inauguration of Neil Abercrombie held at Iolani Palace on December 6, 2010. Photo by Ed Morita edmorita@me.com

I’m often asked about the primary drawback of being a pastry chef. It may sound strange, but the problem virtually every person who works in a bakeshop suffers from is an overabundance of boogers.

As you may know, boogers are basically dried mucus. The average person creates approximately a quart of nasal mucus every day. Aside from lubricating your sinuses, the main purpose of nasal mucus is to push out foreign particles. The air you inhale through your nose contains lots of tiny particles, like dust, dirt, germs and pollen. If any of these particles make it to the lungs, your lungs could get damaged, and you’d have difficultly breathing. Nasal mucus traps the particles, surrounds it and forces it out of your nose. As the mucus gets closer to your nostrils, it dries out, making a booger ripe for picking.

You may be wondering why boogers are so detrimental to working in a bakeshop. Well, in a bakeshop, you’re literally surrounded by foreign particles. Whenever you measure flour or mix something, flour dissipates into the air and can be inhaled. Yet flour is only one of the industrial hazards. Once when I was in culinary school, I used an airbrush to spray green food coloring on a cake. Imagine my surprise when I blew my nose and bright neon green snot came out. With so many floating particles, bakers often have to pick their nose, which means they have to wash their hands before returning to work… or at least I hope they do.

However, there are extreme cases. A small percentage of bakers are allergic to yeast. Bakers who work often with yeast run the risk of inhaling yeast particles, which activate when they come into contact with moisture in the lungs. If this happens, your immune system attacks the particles, and a yeast allergy could result. Those with this allergy can no longer come into contact with bread, alcoholic beverages or unwashed fruit.

An even more rare case is when bakers inhale more particles than their nasal mucus can push out, creating a backlog in their nose. If the blockage doesn’t clear, their boogers will continue to grow and could lead to severe migraines. Fortunately, a simple outpatient surgery can fix this, where a laser is shot up their nose to break up the blockage. A saline solution is then pumped into their sinuses through their ears until all the boogers are flushed out. Yet, the most amazing thing about this is that if you believed anything in this blog entry then I say to you, happy April Fool’s Day!

Bonus points if you can guess which local celebrity the nose in the above photo belongs to.