Friday, November 16, 2018

Prepping to Devour Your Fired-Roasted Chicken Chunks

Amazon didn't kill sears, the warehouse store did.

The BJ's wholesale catalog arrived the other day.  It is fascinating reading.  Of the three major "warehouse" stores - Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's, the latter is clearly the cheapest and has the best variety of items for the dollar.  Sam's club is just a bewildering collection of stuff - packages of 30 pork chops, for example.   And the prices aren't that great.  Costco is definitely more upscale, but you pay a price - a dear one - for shopping there.

Back in the old days, when Mom went shopping, it was to the local merchants, the downtown department stores, or to a chain store.  Of the chain stores, there were the bottom-feeders like Kmart and Caldors.   But the cream of the crop was Sears - where America shops.   It wasn't necessarily the highest quality or the best price, but for the suburbanite, there were few other choices.

Today, you can go to a "warehouse" store and buy items in five-gallon containers.  Or bring home a trampoline or swingset that will be the envy of the neighborhood - all at a price that undercuts even Wal-Mart on occasion.   Sears didn't stand a chance.  Amazon was merely the coupe-de-grace, not the fundamental reason for the fall of Sears.

 But reading this sales catalog from BJ's is always an interesting insight into the minds of the average American.  After all, these are the products that people actually buy and what people want.  And in the food department these days, it is convenience.

Foods that are stupidly easy to prepare are pre-prepared for you.   Even my psychotic mother who was the world's worse chef (her idea of a special meal was a minute steak and Birdseye succotash, the latter being boiled for 40 minutes, "just to be sure") could prepare macaroni-and-cheese from scratch - not even from a Kraft box.   Boil water, insert macaroni, cook it, put it in a casserole, add cheese and butter, bake.  How hard is that?

But apparently this is too hard for the new generation, so we have frozen prepared Mac-n-cheese, which is a "thing" these days in the comfort food business.  That and tater tots, which was a West Coast sensation - every restaurant we went to in California had tater tots on the menu, even some "upscale" ones.

The names for the prepared meals made me want to vomit.   One company called their frozen entrees "Devour" which is as sickening as waiters who ask you, "how is your food tasting?"   Devour?  Worse yet, the packaging shows the food (e.g., mac-n-cheese, tortellini) impaled on a fork.  Not just a little bit, but a big wad of the stuff, impaled on an upright fork, as if to tantalize us.  I have a suggestion for them - instead, show a small child with his mouth open and the food half-chewed. After all, that is what many families are going to see anyway, right?  You'd sell a million of 'em!

And it would be about just as appetizing.

"Devour" is about as bad as "Gobble" - the name of a meal "prep" kit that advertises heavily on NPR.  Who wants to "Gobble" food?  That is nearly as bad as "Devouring" it.

Another product was called "Fire Roasted Chunks" which also made me throw up a bit in my mouth.  Chunks?  You are kidding me.   "Pass over some of them chunks, please!"   Worse yet, the name of the company was "Cooked Perfect" which is not to be confused with a similarly named company, "Cooked Perfect-Like".    Cooked Perfect?   How about "Cooked Perfectly"?   Sadly, this use of the English language seems to be the norm now, as I see all sorts of ads for things "done perfect" or whatever these days.

What really alarmed me was that some marketing company no doubt convened a focus group and "Fire Roasted Chunks" is what tested best with them.  Someone actually thought this was a good idea.   Someone thought chunks were a food item, and not what you throw up after you've had too much to drink.

Language is an interesting thing, and it isn't static.   Doing something "Perfect" instead of "Perfectly" is now acceptable grammar - I can't fight this.   And other words enter the lexicon and have their day in the sun.  For some reason, the Oxford English Dictionary chose "Toxic" as their "word of the year."  Yet, I don't think I've seen this used much, outside of describing the Trump Whitehouse.

"Prep" is my candidate for word of the year in 2019.  In the same brochure from BJ's was an ad showing a pile of cleaning agents in front of a Christmas tree, with the notation, "Prep your home for the Holidays!"  Prep your home?  Perhaps they mean Prepare or even Clean?    "This is your captain speaking, please Prep for landing!"   I can see it now.

Perhaps this came from the medical industry (which is an industry, and quite a profitable one, despite what you may hear), where "prepping for surgery" was a thing.   But outside that, I haven't seen it much used.  Then again, I don't watch television.  Maybe they say it on "CSI" a lot or something.

But the word is taking hold.  I noted twice before that I have seen Prepper magazine on the news stands in the grocery store - in Alaska and Northern California (excuse me, the new "State of Jefferson" according to some home-made billboards).  It is a magazine for people preparing - excuse me, prepping for the end times, the meltdown of the economy or the coming of aliens, zombies, or worse yet, President Hillary Clinton.  There are even stores in Alaska offering "Prepper Supplies, on sale!"

So, "Prep" has legs.  It is even a name of a prescription medication, designed to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.  So you can go and have risky sex with strangers now, because you've "Prepped" beforehand.  I asked a doctor about this and he said unless you are having unsafe sex, it is not really necessary, and it can burn out your liver and kidneys, if you are older.

But I digress.

I have to go now.  I have to go to the kitchen and prep my pre-made fire-roasted chicken chunks in the microwave.  I can't wait to devour them.  I am sure they will taste perfect.