Three Random Thoughts

I’ve been too busy recently to regularly post to Current Config, and I’ve got a post on Half-Life 2: Episode 1 that’s still cooking, but in the meantime here are three random thoughts I had recently:

Thought 1
In a conversation yesterday with my man Steve, he told me a story about a friend of his who ordered a grape Icee, and was then informed that the flavor was, in fact, not ’grape’, but simply ’purple’. We talked about how great that is and how beautifully self-contained the concept is, etc. Then it occurred to me that we, as a society, have constructed a set of fruit archetypes, or maximally-charactered fruit-flavor types, that have informed our concept of what various fruits should taste like, in parallel to their actual flavor characteristics.

As a society, we’ve kind of encapsulated this concept in our candies, sodas, and artificial fruit beverages. For example, if someone tells us that we can choose between cherry, grape, and orange popsicles, we pretty much know what to expect. We’ve actually created a widely-accepted alternate concept of how cherry ’should’ taste. But the odd part is that we also know how cherries actually taste. This is the key distinction: we ask for cherry soda that tastes like cherry or we ask for a pie with actual fruit in it that tastes like cherries. You never get ’cherries’ Skittles or ’strawberries’ Starburst*. You get ’cherry’ or ’strawberry’. Therein lies the distinction. ’Cherry’ is the Group-Think Over-Flavor and ’cherries’ is the flavor of, well, actual cherries.

I imagine a group of future cultural anthropologists or culinary historians gathering at the Smithsonian in 3006 to discuss the possible reasons why strawberries no longer have the vibrant, sweet flavors remembered in the original recipe for Skittles. Possible explanations given would be pollution, ozone depletion, exposure to dirt and insects, cultural decay. Theories would abound to explain and memorialize the lost ’true’ flavors of fruits, now only captured in the astounding gastronomic wizardry of Hi-C and Fruit by the Foot (notice we still haven’t adopted the metric system).

Thought 2
Rye Bread is a bad loaf. Rye bread is the sucker punch of breads. Now, I’m no bread pansy. I eat an organic wheat loaf with seeds in it. This is the kind of bread made from smaller loaves that fell to it in battle. My wheat bread makes off-road sandwiches. None of that velvety-soft pillow-bread from Wonder Bread for us. But man, I’m tellin’ you, rye bread is some bad loaf. I just don’t get it.

Thought 3
’Evenflow’ is a great name for a medication to relieve monthly bloating and cramps associated with menstruation. I even totally know what song to use in the ads.

*By the way, Mac OS X knows how to spell Skittles but not Starburst. Does this seem wrong to you, too?

8 replies on “Three Random Thoughts”

  1. ’Evenflow’ is a great name for a medication to relieve monthly bloating and cramps associated with menstruation. I even totally know what song to use in the ads.

    Really? I’m drawing a blank. Is there a song called “Keep My Menstruation Moving Along Like The Mighty Mississippi”, performed by Magpie?

  2. For a decade, I’ve been watching the beverage industry trying to color-code raspberry as blue. It’s to the point where you’re not necessarily surprised when you as for raspberry and get something blue, but when you see blue, you don’t think “raspberry.”

  3. You’ve come very far from the white bread eating 18 year old I once knew.

    I love the organic or local, co-op shopping man you’ve turned into.

  4. Re. 1: It’s weird isn’t it. Even something as basic as sugar gets twisted. I’ve met people who prefer artificial sweeteners to real sugar. They think the real thing tastes weird.

    Re. 2: Rye blows. Period.

    Re. 3: Pearl Jam would be proud. Also, skittles is apparently an old English version of bowling, which might explain the spelling thing.

  5. What about pumpernickel? It’s like rye… in fact, it ISA rye… but it’s not. Not really. But sort of.

  6. I can deal with pumpernickel, but only because it’s more of a party bread. It usually comes with dip and those little cheese cubes. It’s never been much of a sandwich bread for me. Also, I had an uncle who loved it and he would give me pumpernickel sticks when we visited, so I think I grew to like it as a kid, by association. But I still don’t ever buy it.

  7. Looks like your MacBook knows something my PowerBook doesn’t, Dan. I suppose I could teach it the word and be done with it, but that feels too much like putting Coca-Cola in a baby bottle to me.

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