Monday, May 01, 2006

No Matter How You Slice It

So I was watching Dateline last night and they did a segment on the dangers of eating a bagged salad without first washing it. You know, those bags of salad mixtures you can get at the grocery store. The ones with names like Fresh Express, and variations from American to European to Veggie Lovers. I’m not sure the Veggie Lovers is aptly named, since the only thing that distinguishes that from a regular salad mix is extra carrots. I like carrots, but I wouldn’t consider myself a carrot lover! Maybe they should just call it the American with Extra Carrots. Or the American Mix for Folks Who Like Extra Carrots. Or they could call it what it is…lettuce and carrot salad. That’s probably not good enough for the marketing team. Not too catchy. And heaven forbid they should actually call it what it is. What do we expect, truth in advertising?

Okay, here it comes…drum roll please…Ah But I Digress. Back to the Dateline piece. The “Industry Consultant” (read the guy who’s paid to spin the problem on behalf of the lettuce growers/packers/sellers, everybody but the salad eaters) referred to bagged salads as the greatest food innovation since sliced bread. That really got me thinking. Not about bagged salads but about sliced bread. I mean, really, is it that great that all else pales in comparison to it? I mean, how difficult is it to slice the bread yourself? It’s not like people couldn’t figure out how to slice the bread before the industrial revolution. Knives have been around in some form since the cavemen learned how to make tools out of stone. Granted it’s easier to slice the bread with a serrated bread knife, but the sharp stone was good enough for Neanderthal Man. I’m not exactly sure of this but I imagine slicing bread was popular hundreds of years ago when the Earl of Sandwich decided to stack a hunk of meat between two, well, slices of bread. So I guess people have been slicing bread for a while now.

When you think of it, there have been a few innovations, a few discoveries and inventions, in the past few centuries that are truly better than sliced bread. So why is sliced bread still the gold standard against which all other advances are measured? (And what was the best thing before sliced bread?) How about something being the best thing since the polio vaccine? Or the best thing since moveable type? Did moveable type come before sliced bread, and hence lose its luster and its best ranking? Even other sliced foods are better than sliced bread. Like bacon. Which would you rather slice, a loaf of bread or a big ol’ side of pork fat? I’ll slice the bread and go with the pre-sliced bacon, thank you very much. Oh, and how about cheese? Sliced cheese is good, but I’m not sure it’s better than sliced bread. Although it becomes a tighter race when the cheese is individually wrapped so it doesn’t all stick together. But only if it’s real cheese. I’m not so sure about that cheese food stuff. Who ever thought of calling it cheese food? You don’t feed the cheese. You can cut the cheese. Preferably in another room. You can melt the cheese. You can even slice the cheese yourself. But I have never, in my many years on this planet, seen anybody feed their cheese.

You know what? Since the cheese is individually wrapped, maybe they should individually wrap the pieces of bread. Maybe it would stay fresh longer. That would be the best thing since sliced bread!