The story of the demise of Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins is no secret. The company that is now Macy's bought Jordan Marsh, Jordan Marsh became Macy's, and the experience of going to Downtown Crossing in Boston for a shoe sale and a sugar-encrusted blueberry muffin at the flagship store was no more.
Yet that's not the story I want to focus on here. Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins were bigger than Downtown Crossing. Even if you could get the recipe at the department store, many of the muffins were consumed in the suburbs or in distant towns. They were gobbled up not just in Jordan Marsh stores but also at social gatherings where one woman brought other women the muffins fresh out of her own oven.
I always thought of Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins as indicative of how female social networks operated.
But that's over now and the internet, not Macy's, is to blame.
I cannot help but recognize the irony in posting my Great-Aunt Harriet's prized Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins recipe on the internet. Before the web you had to really fight for this recipe. You had to gain the confidence of the woman who baked the muffins and brought them to your workplace. You needed to suck up to your friend's muffin-toting future mother-in-law as women gathered round for terribly silly games and a little bridal-shower breakfasting.
To possess the recipe for Jordan Marsh Muffins was once a sign that you had made it in certain social circles. Far more than a piece of paper in a recipe box, it said you had unique charms and a master's degree in flattery.
But who needs to demonstrate social cunning when the internet just gives away your ticket to having the best muffins at so-and-so's baby shower?
I remember being instructed never to share this recipe with anyone. Now I'm posting it among the hundreds of other Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins recipes on the web. Not only is Jordan Marsh gone, so too is any reason to beg your sister or cajole a secretary for the muffin recipe.
At least the muffins I baked this morning tasted as good as I remembered.