The lengths to which marketers will go to convince consumers of the value of their products often veers into the ridiculous, and food marketers are among the worst offenders. Tomatoes, in this world, are “vine-ripened.” Lettuce is “hand torn.” Potatoes are “twice baked.”
But peel back the overhyped covers and find naught but a tomato, a sheaf of iceberg leaves and a jacketed spud.
Authentic. Award-winning. Individually sliced. Ah, the seduction of words. Slap the label “gourmet” on something and you’re in a whole new league. Declare a tub of ice cream “premium,” a bottle of wine “special reserve,” a beef brisket “select” and watch the transformative effect light up a consumer’s eyes.
These are wild indulgences of the language, these, and the lot of us accept their reckless presence in our lives blithely. We never question, for example, KFC’s decision to twice-bread our chicken strips. Or however the hell else a pizza might be tossed, if not by hand.
And speaking of language, there’s much to be said for the power of the foreign tongue. Buitoni has a four-cheese heat-and-eat ravioli meal that’s probably perfectly delightful. But the folks in marketing at this Italian food manufacturing firm dipped into their dictionaries to produce Riserva Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti. This one, too, is a four-cheese heat-and-eat ravioli meal, but there’s at least one difference: the one you need a translator to pronounce sells for some 50 cents more.