Costumeczar, you nailed it in your first post. Everyone absolutely knows what scratch baking is. There is no question about it.
There are two bakeries that lie in my area and the scratch bakers in the area are very quick to name who is scratch and who tells blatant lies. And those artificial sleeves do count as exactly what they are... artificial. One bakery buys the frozen slabs from Walmart and calls it "Grandma's recipe". And for those bakeries who proclaim that the clients prefer box, it means that your scratch cakes are not as good as abox, not all scratch cakes. Another puts fake sleeves in the centers and covers them in fake chocolate, touting gourmet flavors.
If someone asks, be aware that they may likely already know the answer and are testing you. If I have an interview first, am sure to be very clear on how my cakes differ from the competition and it also justifies my prices. My scratch competitors (we are all friends and refer frequently) do the same.
Lying is just what a few food vendors are allowed to do because they are exempt (for now) from the labeling law, which in many states, includes cakes.
Consumers go to farmers markets, shop at gourmet stores, and pay premium prices at supermarkets like Whole Foods. If they don't want chemicals and artificial ingredients in their family's foods, what right does anyone have to withhold the truth, insinuate scratch, or outright lie?
I personally have no problem with box bakeries as the provide a price point that is much needed in any market. But the only reason to lie is to extract more money out of the customer than they would be willing to pay if they knew the truth.
Be aware that the more scratch bakers that are in your area, the more likely that your customers will be more informed.
I can spot a box mix every time. The addition of artificial pudding and sleeves only intensifies the chemical taste. I have informed people how to spot a box mix. Once you look for it, it isn't hard. It doesn't mean they are not good. It just pinpoints the artificial. After you swallow the cake, icing, filling, etc., there is a lingering taste. This is where the chemicals can't hide and that slight bitterness can be detected. Scratch cakes still taste like just cake after they are swallowed, even the bad ones.
There is no justification to lying to a customer when they clearly have a right to decide what they choose to consume. Although a bakery can lie in some areas by law, it is morally and ethically wrong.
Is it ok for your mechanic to tell you a few more things are wrong with your car just because there is no way for you to know at the time? Those parts may be technically worn and who is to really say what needs to be replaced. Every baker who lies would, in this situation, tell everyone that this mechanic is a thief, not really dishonest, but saying just enough to cause you to spend more.
My daughters work with me. Where will they learn business ethics if not from their parents?
I have posted this many times. I could open a box mix bakery right next to my scratch bakery and do well at both. There are so many advantages to the box and doctored way of baking. I just don't get why bakers cannot be proud of their products and honestly portray them? The customers would appreciate it and your enthousiasm for your product would be contageous. I learned a long time ago in sales just how hard it is to sell something you don't personally believe in. There are price advantages, durability advantages, adaptability to alternate flavor advantages, predictability advantages, and as most people already know, it is a taste that many people were brought up loving the taste. Tell the truth.