April 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Mystification and Unnecessarily Sultry Underwear Models

I was talking to Indigo Girl about this on Twitter, and then realized, no, this is something I need to share with THE WORLD: I was at the grocery store this week, and the clerk DIDN'T KNOW WHAT CHOCOLATE CHIPS WERE.

Shall I pause? Do you need a moment?

I was buying quite a pile of bags of them because they were on a good sale (and as an aside, fellow customers: "SOMEONE'S doing a lot of baking!" can be said in a whole range of tones and with a whole range of accompanying facial expressions, and some of them are totally fine and some of them are TOTALLY RUDE AND YOU KNOW IT), and the clerk picked up one bag and turned it over in her hands and said, "What are these? Like, little chocolate candies?"

When I told Paul this story, he wanted to know if I'd been buying an exotic kind of chocolate chip, because some of those really do look like bags of little chocolate candies---but NO, these were regular Nestle Tollhouse Morsels, totally standard, yellow bag. And besides, it's not like when I said, "...They're chocolate chips. They're for...baking?" she said, "Oh, duh, of course! I don't know where my brain went for a minute there!" Instead she said, "Ohhhh!" in a tone of wonder. And I said, "Yeah. I use them in, like, cookies and muffins." And she said, "Huh!" like I was telling her a novel way of seasoning asparagus. Then she added, oddly: "I only eat boxed chocolates." She didn't ACT like she was putting me on.

Nor did she seem like a recent arrival in this country: I know other countries have different standard baking ingredients, and that if I were to get a job in a grocery store in one of those countries I would likely look very foolish indeed, asking questions about absolutely ordinary items. But while I didn't go so far as to verify this by examining her birth certificate, I'd say she was 100% standard United States teenager.

So. Anyway. Mystifying.

And speaking of mystifying, another Twitter topic that actually I want to talk longer about and to more people: What is with models in underwear ads looking so SULTRY? I totally get it when it's underwear being marketed as GIFTS: in that case, I EXPECT the model to be sending the message "Your significant other would TOTALLY look this hot if you bought this fancy get-up, I PROMISE!"

But if it's regular everyday cotton briefs, I want the model to just look...friendly. The same as she might look in jeans and a t-shirt. Like she's saying, "Hey, this is a nice deal on the hi-cut cotton kind you like! I like to wear these myself! They're comfy! And look, it's a Bonus 4th Pair pack!" It doesn't seem necessary for her to look like she's trying to seduce me: _I_ know not to buy them based on how SHE looks in them, and besides, she is not my type.

As Misty pointed out, this problem is just as bad with men. When I'm at Target getting another 5-pack of cottons for Paul, I feel like telling the model on the wrapper to BACK OFF, FRESHY, I am buying these for MY HUSBAND. (Also, I think men look kind of stupid when they're trying to look sexy.) (I mean, don't they? They're all "You know you want me: look how artfully I've arranged myself in this budget-friendly 100% cotton!" and I'm all "*trying to repress a snort of laughter while also wincing to think what his mother thinks of this*".) I'd prefer the guy on the underwear wrapper (do you notice how very carefully I am avoiding the use of the word "package"?) to look like a GOOD FATHER and a NICE HUSBAND. Maybe he could look like someone else's slightly flirty husband. But THAT'S AS FAR AS IT SHOULD GO.

42 comments:

Misty said...

I have made it into a Swistle post and am now officially awesome.

And, granted, boys are more fragile about these sorts of things than us sturdy women, but I think it is probably more uncomfortable for men to buy their own underpants with those odd marketing decisions on the package.

Package. Package. Package. HAHAHAH!

kirida said...

I don't get underwear models either, both genders are mystifying. I don't want to look like a pinup, I just want my undies to stay in place. But they're not paid to look friendly, like they would totally help you finish a crossword puzzle or pay for your latte when you realize you've forgotten your wallet. That's the kind of underwear model who appeals to me.

Lisa said...

The underwear paragraphs cracked me up. I haven't laughed that much on your posts since the one about dying your eyebrows...ummm, I mean facial hair. Hahaha.

Love it. I'm going to read both posts again and enjoy the rest of my day. Thanks for the laugh!

Nik-Nak said...

I can't really be surprised over the chocolate chips thing since when I explain to people I have no clue what Baking Powder is, what you ise it for, or where to buy it I get all kinds of nut-so looks. The same goes with flour. No one ever specifies if you use all purpose or self rising and there is so a difference, right? Am I just supposed to magically KNOW this??

Maybe it s because those of us in our late teens and early twenties weren't brought up in a household full of constant home cooked from scratch meals? Weren't the nineties all about the working mom or something? That's what I'm atributing it to anyway.

Claudia said...

I'm just gonna put it bluntly. When I am buying hubby underwear...I'm not looking at the underwear. I am really trying to NOT focus on the focal point... lol. I mean, c'mon. Some of those models have oddly shaped "packages" in the picture. I don't know if it's the underwear or what....just saying! I know SOME of you have to be thinking the same thing.

Brigid Keely said...

Nik-Nak, unless a recipe specifies otherwise, use all-purpose flour. Self Rising flour has a leavening agent (like baking powder) to help your baked good rise. Baking Powder is baking soda, corn starch, and cream of tartar and you use it to make baked goods rise and be fluffy and good.

Yeah, I'm going to guess that your friendly store employee 1) does not bake 2) does not come from a family that bakes 3) possibly has a chocolate allergy/gluten problem (or someone in her family does) or some other dietary restriction that precludes baked goods and/or chocolate. Which makes me super sad. Look. So sad I'm making a frowny face. :C

I keep asking at different stores if anyone carries meringue powder or powdered egg whites and NOBODY EVER KNOWS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. I would expect this if I lived in a small town but I live in FREAKING CHICAGO. I'ma have to order this on line, I guess. SADNESS. WOE.

M.Amanda said...

I once went to a local store and asked the teenager at the counter if they carried bug bombs. He laughed at me. Not just laughed, but doubled over with tears streaming down his face.

I first was confused, then began to feel a bit foolish, like maybe I didn't say what I thought I said. "Bug bombs" again just resulted in more laughter and I couldn't think of any other name for them.

Then an older gentleman came from the back room and asked if he could help me. I told him I was looking for bug bombs and he immediately directed me to the "Insect Fogger."

I guess bug bombs are not the kind of thing every kid knows about, but CHOCOLATE CHIPS? My 2yo knows a chocolate chip when she sees one.

Slim said...

I had to identify a potato for a college student once. Not recognizing a tomatillo, OK. But "Is this a potato?" It's not as though they look all that different baked.

bunnyslippers said...

I once had a cashier count the cans in the six-pack.

And your description of the men on the underwear package *totally* explains why the guys in my life have never been able to buy their own underwear.

Sarah said...

Slim's potato story has me shaking my head for the poor youngsters of this nation... Save us, Jamie Oliver! I actually do remember, growing up, having to explain to a friend of mine how to make mashed potatoes because she thought they just... came out of a box. Always.

Nann said...

I went through checkout a few months ago and the cashier did not know what pears were. Standard pears. Not an exotic imported variety. He turned it over and over in his hands totally mystified until I said. "It's a pear". Then he picked the appropriate fruit code while I stood there wondering what child/teenager doesn't know what a pear is?

Becky said...

The chocolate chips and potato stories are so sad; I agree, there must not be any baking going on in her house at all (but none in her friends' houses, or at school, or SOMETHING??). And the potato..I just don't even know where to go with that one. Yikes.

I agree about the underwear. And I can never figure out which is less weird; to buy the package with the least sultry looking model, or with the best looking one. Of course I like to rely on the free underwear coupons from VS, and theirs doesn't come in packages, so it's not an issue too often. And I don't buy Ryan underwear. There are some things he is in charge of for himself, and that is one of them. Also pants.

Christy said...

What are we coming to? The potato story makes me want to cry.

Brigid - I can only find meringue powder at craft stores in the cake decorating aisle. I have looked everywhere and gotten those same looks.

d e v a n said...

Package! HAHAHA
I'm totally mature.

Who on Earth has never seen nor heard of chocolate chips? Wow.
Even my 1 year old knows that bag by sight.

SheLikesToTravel said...

Interesting about the chocolate chips.

It made me think about my friend who is working at a Food Co-op in Philly. She said that they found that students in schools didn't know how to recognize food at the grocery store. So they developed a program where they would go into the school and show kids a can of corn and then an ear of corn on the cob. They then proceeded to do this with all sorts of vegetables and fruits so better decisions could be made when grocery shopping.

The program has been so successful, they are thinking of rolling it out nationwide. I'm not sure what this says about our country.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

I love love love this post.

And I feel very strongly that you need to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and take a few in to this poor sheltered teenager.

On the underwear thing... I rather like the sexy models because it is fun (while admittedly ridiculous) to imagine that *I* could look so effortlessly awesome in a pair of cotton briefs. They make me feel that I could totally make my husband fall all over himself and I wouldn't even need lace! Or... string-y underpants!

BUT I get your point.

The underwear WRAPPERS that skeeve me out the most are the ones that don't even have the model's head on them. They just display a torso and the, um, underwear-clad area. It's a little too in-your-face for my taste.

Lynnette said...

But... what... how does one not know what a chocolate chip is? Don't tell me she's never even seen a commercial. Was it her first day? I can't imagine she's been working there a while and this is the first time she's seen them. "Gosh, what is this dry crunchy stuff in a cardboard box? Oh, cereal? Never heard of it." I am totally mystified.

Also, I spent several minutes trying to figure out what you meant by "sulty" in the title before I read your post. Slutty? Sultan-y? Slutskaya? Sultry? I was so sure you had made up a hilarious word that I didn't even consider that it was a typo for the word "sultry."

My verification is "rap it", and now I want Metalia to do a rap of the chocolate chip incident.

Emily said...

You are hilarious! Love your writing.

Jen said...

Oh tone is everything. The other day we were in the library and I was getting a book for myself and 3 year old Carter got away from me for a moment and I was busy chasing him down and there was this woman sitting in a chair reading and she looks at him and goes "bye bye now, to the basement (children's section) you go" and her tone made me give her the evil eye because it was rude.

How does someone not know chocolate chips??? I can't understand that at all.

Sometimes I think the marketers just expect us to be clueless sheep consumers. I'm forever criticizing commercials because they are so...silly.

vanessa said...

The worst underwear is American Apparel. UGH I HATE THEM.
and yes, men do look silly when trying to look sexy.

Swistle said...

Lynnette- I'm glad you mentioned the typo---although now I kind of wish it HAD been an awesome made-up word!

Nicole said...

Heeeeee! That's so funny and true about the underwear. What is UP with men's underwear commercials anyway? Years and years ago my girlfriends bought me a "playgirl" deck of cards and we died laughing about these guys, strolling along the beach or whatever, totally normal, except their penises were hanging out of their shorts. Like, we're all casual, except you know, our JUNK is on display. No big deal.

And, okay, someone really didn't know what chocolate chips were? That's...weird.

Dr. Maureen said...

Brigid: You can get meringue powder at Michael's (a craft store). It's the only place I've ever seen it.

Susanica said...

You still got it Swistle. Hilarious!

CARRIE said...

I am quite embarrassed stepping into Victoria's Secret because of the models. I just want some undies with a little lycra so they don't get all stretched out. The soft-core porn bothers me a bit.
And I don't see the point in male underwear models. The female body is smooth and curvy and beautiful. Even the best looking male model has danglies, and danglies are just weird.

Snoopyfan said...

@Brigid Keely Have you tried a craft store for meringue powder? They should have it anywhere that sells Wilton baking supplies like Jo-Ann Fabric or Michael's. I am surprised you could not find them at Jewel, although they have scaled back the number of different things they carry these days.

cindy kay said...

Thank you, thank you. I laughed so hard over this line: They're all "You know you want me: look how artfully I've arranged myself in this budget-friendly 100% cotton!", that my husband and 20-yr-old son came to see what the merriment was about. I'm not sure they quite got it, but it tickled me. I know exactly what you mean; I've seen those pictures; you somehow captured the essence of what makes me cringe, and now laugh, at underwear shopping. That did me good.

Christy said...

I grew up baking nestle tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, but now...I use pre-made/packaged tollhouse cookie dough. I'm a little worried my own children might not know what chocolate chips are!

Sarah said...

All of this....is awesome.

Also, I'm very proud to say that my 4-year-old definitely knows what a chocolate chip is (as well as potatoes).

Lawyerish said...

Your post and the comments are making me cry laughing. Who doesn't know what chocolate chips are?? (Not to mention a potato -- sheesh.)

Mel said...

I am so going home and baking English Muffins. Last night I asked my daughter if she wanted to help me bake them, since they are for her breakfasts, and she said "OH mom, just buy them." Besides, they're so much better homemade!

Michelle said...

oh my. well, i could almost understand not knowing what a potato looks like ... but nestle chocolate chips??? even if her family does no baking, surely she has seen advertisements on tv or in a magazine? something? it is just weird! i have had to identify ordinary fruits/veggies at the grocery store before, though i can't remember which ones exactly, i do remember thinking, seriously you don't know what that is???

Anonymous said...

The chocolate chip part reminds me of a story my mom told me: She was with other women in her church planning a activity to do with the young women. Someone brought up the fact they should bake cookies since no one does that any more. When the day came for the activity my mom brought all the ingrediants the other women looked at her all strange and asked her what that is for. Confused she is all to make the cookies. The women were all we were just going to buy the dough and bake it. What is the point of teaching them that? Plus this is a group of mormons aren't they own for wholesome family activities like baking it still blows my mind.

el-e-e said...

Easily one of your best posts ever. "package." snort!

Christina said...

My mind is blown over the chocolate chips. Reminds me of when I had a friend spend the night when I was in 4th or 5th grade -- so what? like 9? 10? And my mom was making meatballs from scratch. My friend was all like "WHAT? IT'S MEAT?" and "YOU'RE GOING TO BAKE THEM?" etc etc. Turns out her mom usually went the frozen route. Which, yeah we all do sometimes but still by age 10 you would think she'd comprehend they're MEAT balls from MEAT and come in other forms than pre-frozen?

The entire underwear rant of yours (here and on Twitter) is amazing. It should win a Pulitzer prize or something. haha

nonsoccermom said...

I laughed very, very hard at this entire post and all of the comments. I'm blown away that American teenagers apparently have problems identifying basic food items, but still. Hilarious.

And I so agree about the underwear, um, packaging. Totally unnecessary!

Captivated said...

Funny I was reading this from my laptop as a VS underwear commercial played on TV and I wonder if all companies now just are trying to compete.

Who doesn't know what Chocolate chips are? Did Jamie Oliver's show go into a kindergarten last year and quiz kids on ordinary veggies and they didn't do so well? It's just a sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

I haven't laughed so hard in...I don't know how long. I think I've read your blog for 5ish years and never posted, but this? Hilarious. Worth a thank you, for sure.

I read the whole post to my hubby and he totally agreed that buying underwear for himself is awful. His solution? Don't put men on the "packages." Put women IN men's underwear. I swear, he's usually not this sexist. ;-)

-Jill

L said...

a few months ago we came across a restaurant worker who didn't know what coke was! So bizarre. I so relate to your chocolate chip story. It's like, where have you been living??? It's fascinating really.

Rah said...

This wasn't the main point of your post, but I couldn't help thinking about you in the line at the grocery store today. This random woman PICKED UP a container of pico de gallo out of my cart and said "What's this? How do you eat it?" I gave her a pointed look and took it back, mumbling something like "Something similar to salsa but fresh." The she said in a loud voice, to her husband, "Look, she buys hot soup from the deli and won't even have to heat it up when she gets home!" Maybe I live 100 miles away, but never mind. I toyed with the idea of asking her in a very loud voice if she had tried THESE SCENTED PANTILINERS.

theatergypsy said...

I once had an elderly gentleman ask me "Is this cabbage?" while holding up a head of lettuce. Seems his wife had sent him to the store and he didn't know which was which. I group him into the same category as the clerk who didn't recognize chocolate chips - self-absorbed in their own litle worlds and paying absolutely NO ATTENTION to what that woman in the kitchen is doing out there.

Kelsey said...

What? Not knowing what chocolate chips are? Well there is one person who never helped bake anything as a child! That's seriously one of the craziest things I've ever heard.