As a Harvard Business School MBA, I learned that the leading edge of knowledge about the American psyche can be found in the back rooms of Madison Avenue. Other than the NSA, probably no group is more in tune with American desires than advertisers. They survey, they run focus groups, they look at what’s trending and what’s actually generating sales…and they put their bullets in the marketing guns that will win the battles for their clients.
This morning I opened my day-after-Christmas newspaper and the advertisement pictured below fell out onto my breakfast table. Continue reading “What America Wants…according to Walmart”
At a school I recently visited on my Cheesie Mack book tour, I arrived as breakfast was being served. It was a sugary, carbo feast, consisting of a paper carton of chocolate milk, a plastic container of sweetened applesauce and a hard boiled egg in a twist-tied plastic bag, and a cinnamon bun in cellophane. All four items were packaged in a plastic container. Of the forty children (ages 7-11) whom I witnessed, a few paid their $1.50, but most of the breakfasts were subsidized by government funds. Since I had 15 minutes until my first group of students would arrive for their hour with an author, I observed the breakfast.
Most striking was the gusto the cinnamon buns engendered. Every child consumed every crumb and icing drizzle. Continue reading “School Breakfast Sugar”
I know a woman (she shall remain nameless) who loses her sunglasses repeatedly. A retired attorney, she is neither careless nor insouciant. It just happens. And each time her cheaters go AWOL, she reacts with dismay and a bit of self-directed anger. Then, after a mourning period shortened imperatively by the next glary day, her chagrin wanes, and she buys a new pair.
Over the years, her disappearing shades routine, unpredictable, yet certain as California earthquakes, Continue reading “No Sunglasses, No Service”
On July 14, the UC Davis Olive Center, part of that school’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, released a paper reporting that 69% of randomly selected imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) brands had “defective flavors such as rancid, fusty, and musty” and “did not meet international and US standards.” This compares to a failure rate of only 10% for the California-produced EVOO they sampled. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), a trade organization that represents the foreign producers whose oils flunked the UC Davis exam, promptly released a statement claiming the tests were flawed.
Continue reading “Is It Really Extra Virgin Olive Oil?”
A mile south of our camp, we found a fallen sign next to a broken road leading uphill and west: Scenic Route. Our now-crumpled map, provided free at the airport days earlier by hopeful advertisers, echoed the invitation: Scenic Route. Our eyes met, questioned, then agreed. A right turn, and we were adventure-borne.
In minutes the winding pockmarks became new macadam, but our progress remained slow until we passed the yellow-flagged, plant-eating crew manning machines that chewed shoulder grass, weeds, and three-inch thick branches like Skoal. Continue reading “Lost! (Episode 4: St. Croix)”
Cooled by early morning trade winds, we sunblocked, took an early morning walk on our condo’s north shore beach, then drove west through St. Croix’s rain forest (left-lane driving is significantly less stressful in daylight) to Frederiksted, population 830, the smaller of the island’s two towns. Built around Fort Frederik in the mid-18th century, the town was originally, and still is, just seven streets by seven streets…and we walked most of them, passing many locals (Crucians) and spotting only five possible tourists. Continue reading “St. Croix–Frederiksted”