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An Ode to the Pillsbury Crescent Roll

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Thanksgiving is a traditionally bountiful affair. And while the overflowing tablescape presents myriad accompaniments to the bird of honor, it’s important to stop and think about which of these matters most. Let the experts debate all they want, but for me, nothing comes close to the glory of a bread basket piled high with Pillsbury’s Original Crescent Dinner Rolls.

The crunchy ends! That pillow-soft center! Could there be a more ideal one-to-three bites?

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Not even the most lovingly passed-down family recipe can compete with the rich, flaky pleasure of a Crescent straight from the oven. The crunchy ends! That pillow-soft center! Could there be a more ideal one-to-three bites? It’s a wonder of modern food science. Peel the tab until the canister pops, dough oozing forth in anticipation of the pleasure it will soon provide, then rip, roll, and pinch each portion into shape, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. What lies ahead? In a word, perfection. A shade of golden brown so sublime it would make Louis-Camille Maillard–yeah, that Louis-Camille Maillard, the French scientist who discovered how flavors develop when “amino acids react with sugars in elevated temperatures”–weep.

My love for the Crescents stretches back to childhood, a time well before I could casually reference crowd-sourced information on the internet to appear smarter. Each year, Thanksgiving Day would bring a flurry of activity, with Mom running the show and Dad experimenting on some highly specific detail (giblet gravy, anyone?). Growing up kitchen-curious, I’d be given the kid-safe tasks of carrot peeling and water pouring. But one year, everything changed. The Pillsbury blue tube was handed to me like a relay racer’s baton, heavy with the weight of sole responsibility. I had become the Dough Boy. To my parents, it was a way to keep me busy and far from sharp knives. To my nine-year-old self, it was a monumental show of trust. The rolls were usually the last food to arrive at the dinner table, napkin-wrapped like a present and still warm. Twenty years later, I still reach for the Crescents first.

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