A while ago I found myself in the so-called Restaurant in a local branch of a Swedish meatball store that also sells flatpack furniture. Lovely, I hear you flatpack lovers saying…but I’m afraid I’m not with you.
I was looking for something that even this paragon of prandial delicacies could not screw up. Now as many a chip aficionado might already know, this rules out their chips which consistently fail to make the grade.
I may be in a minority but I find their food thoroughly unappetising but there I was and others were having lunch. So, I made my choice from the cool cabinet (and no, that’s not a Billy bookcase). I admit it, I was beguiled by the purple prose on the egg mayonnaise sandwich. It had to be that because the actual filling was clearly visible and was so pale its resemblance to egg was only very fleeting. Still I was heartily reassured by the description on the packaging. That, and the fact that it was the only thing available that wasn’t fish.
Now, I apologise for the somewhat random variation in font size and emphasis in the next little passage but it is an attempt to replicate the puzzling effect on the actual sandwich packaging.
To start with, I was a little concerned because they seemed to be under the misapprehension that egg mayonnaise sandwiches had somehow come from the Indian Sub-continent or from the Fry’s chocolate factory.
You see, they described the steps they had taken to create ”that Tiffin eating experience” which involved working with the finest quality and freshest ingredients possible.
Now I already knew that tiffin was an Anglo-Indian snack and a little research confirmed my understanding that the term had been appropriated by the Fry’s chocolate company who first made a Tiffin bar in 1937 and kept it going until I was a teenager – but I couldn’t really see a strong connection between my substandard sandwich and either of these.
Not only that, but the I was assured that the “result is a lovingly prepared, delicious sandwich”.
Oh I know. I could feel the love and it was as delicious as I suspect the packaging might have been, had I thrown away the contents.
It went on to describe its unmistakeable homemade taste for sandwich lovers everywhere.
On the flap of the pack it carried the strapline: WE BELIEVE IN CREATING FOODS WITH THAT HOMEMADE TASTE.
Make no mistake, if this was part of a homemade experience then a call to Social Services was in order, and frankly, who cares what they believe in – it would just be nice if they tried to make a good sandwich rather than writing fancifully about one.
Anyway, this got me going on a chain of thought about the kind of nonsense that washes over us all the time when we have products put before us. I’m sure we each believe that it has no effect on us individually but there must be some reason that the packagers/marketeers/manufacturers take the time and trouble to develop and design such patently ridiculous tommyrot.
Take this chicken product from a well-known supermarket (please)
The packing proclaims – Slow Roasted Chicken Bites – Powered by Protein
Wow! That sounds great! But read the florid prose on the website with just a little critical acumen
- Roast Flavour Chopped and Shaped Chicken Breast
- I know what it suggests, but what does it mean? What is Roast Flavour? What is really happening when this Chicken breast is being chopped and shaped?
- Our bites contain 91% Chicken Breast, with 9% seasoning and ingredients. Real protein with irresistible flavour whenever you need a pick me up.
- What does that mean? 9% seasoning and ingredients? What sort of ingredients? Aren’t the chicken and seasoning ingredients?
- Yeah, clearly whenever I need a pick me up my first thought is all about grabbing a protein-packed chicken bite that’s packed with roast flavour!
- Powered by Protein
- We’ve made it our mission to lift you up with snacks which excite the senses.
- And I just thought it was a chicken bite not a sodding space probe or an extra sensory experience
- Snacks packed with protein to help you get the most out of your day.
- Hmm, 5g out of a total 25g doesn’t sound as packed as say the average commuter train to me, but still if it will help me get the best out of my day…..
- We keep it real, straight from the fridge because life is too full for empty snacks.
- Thank God they keep it real! The idea of a virtual chicken bite coming straight from the fridge trying to fill an otherwise empty life just doesn’t bear thinking about.
I wonder who thinks that this kind of tosh is anything but nonsense , or worse, who believes that it plays any part in the customers’ decision to buy the awful product. Next time you buy a packaged food product or read a menu just look at the nonsense they have written about the food and ask yourself who do they think they are kidding? And more significantly, why?
My tip of the day is to avoid anything that describes itself as “gourmet” if it does, it almost invariably isn’t!