This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
You would have been hard pressed to find Young Bettina in any color other than black, and maybe gray. But after the past two years of heaviness and staring at the sparse white walls of my apartment, Current Bettina is ready to go all in on kitschy fun. I want to fill my home with maximalist food-related ephemera and wear glittery platform Crocs and embrace tie-dye and big, loud prints and as much color as possible. I’m not alone, at least on the tie-dye front—apparently, in times of turmoil, consumers look to nostalgic fashion as a kind of escapism. And boy, have we seen some turmoil!
So when I saw Hedley and Bennett’s Grateful Dead apron collection in all its tie-dyed glory, dear reader, I was smitten. Mind you, I hadn’t consciously listened to a single Grateful Dead song until, um, late last year, but I maintain that you don’t have to be a Deadhead to appreciate the throwback, endearingly corny print. It’s not just tie-dye(!) but tie-dye(!) with dancing Grateful Dead bears across it. Some of the bears are even wearing their own little Hedley and Bennett aprons (like the Droste effect) and holding knives, spoons, tongs, and pans. How could I not be obsessed!? (The other apron in the collab is denim with tie-dye pockets, for the Deadhead who doesn’t want to scream it to the world.)
As many of my shirts, Jackson Pollocked with red sauce and oil, will attest, I’ve never been much of an apron person at home. The ones I’ve tried in the past weren’t right. While crossback aprons are beloved by many, I prefer the size flexibility of one with waist ties. Even among those, the neck loops were too long, the waist ties were too short (I like when I can cross them behind my back and then tie them at my front), the bibs were too narrow at the top to provide adequate cover, or the material was simply unpleasant to wear. That rough canvas feeling? Not for me!
But the cotton-poly blend fabric of this Hedley and Bennett apron feels heavyweight but soft, with a touch of stretch. There are pockets for kitchen towels and Sharpies and meat thermometers and that one lip balm I don’t want to lose. The print obscures speckles of food. The ties are long and sturdy, and the neck loop is adjustable. The shape is wonderfully full in its coverage, though I usually fold it over itself at the waist since the apron goes past my knees (I’m 5’0”). It just feels high quality, like a really nice piece of clothing.
The elephant in the room is the price. The Grateful Dead apron will set you back $105, which is on the higher end of not just aprons but also of Hedley and Bennett’s entire line. (Their essential apron is generally around $85 in solid colors, though collaborations and limited edition prints and fabrics run higher.) If you’re looking for functionality and cost efficiency, you can certainly find cheaper aprons that do the job. You don’t need this apron! But it is a pleasant treat for you or that one cook you know who already has everything.
In a spiritual sense, I just want to be the grooviest dad at the cookout. I’m over being uptight and boring. With my Crocs and my silly little apron, I’m ready to keep on Truckin’. (That’s a Grateful Dead reference. I’m pretty sure.)