Washed three times so you don’t have to

Years ago, in London, I discovered an amusing game to play on the underground escalators. You have to keep the full list of the┬áSeven Deadly Sins in mind but I’ll help you out with that right now – the list goes: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

So imagine if you will, as the escalator is taking you past all the advertisements, you have committed those seven to mind and are ready to identify the Deadly Sin represented in each advertisement. So, for example, an ad for an electrical appliance that actually comes with its own plug (they didn’t used to have those automatically in the UK) – that’s clearly sloth. An ad for a pizza chock full of every delicious filling imaginable: gluttony. Or greed. Or maybe both, especially if there’s a special price offer on the pizzas that appeals to greed. And so on. I haven’t played it for years, but remembering it now I intend to play it again when I’m back in London. I used to love sliding past all that display of excess, muttering “sloth, lust, envy, envy, sloth, gluttony” to myself.

I’ve remembered that game because I’m presently shopping in American supermarkets, those temples of consumer power. I’m especially amused by the slogan on the boxes of organic salad: “Washed three times so you don’t have to” – a perfect example of an appeal to sloth. I’m slightly bemused by tubs of pre-crumbled feta (I reckon I could probably crumble my own feta, slothful or not) but the winner of the slothful competition was the pre-prepped carrots.

I wanted to make a gluten-free carrot cake for my sister in law, and the only thing that made me hesitate was not having a food processor here, to grate the carrots. I contemplated borrowing one for the job but that was a more complicated endeavour than I wanted. And yes of course I could grate them by hand – but grating a pound of carrots is a thankless task and usually involves grating your own fingers as well as the carrots. So I was browsing through the veggie section in the chilled cabinet, vaguely wondering if I could make a banana cake instead, or at the least try to buy bigger carrots which would be easier to grate – when, yes! You guessed it! I found packets of pre-shredded organic carrots.

Sloth, be my friend. The carrot cake was truly delicious.

8 Responses to “Washed three times so you don’t have to”

  1. Pat Buoncristiani Says:

    I recall standing in front of the breakfast cereal shelves in my local Virginia supermarket soon after I had moved to the USA and counting the number of varieties. I don’t recall the exact number but I do know it had three figures. We value having choice so highly, but in some cases choice becomes so trivial it is almost meaningless. But the concept of choice remains powerful because it persuades us that we must be living in the best of all possible worlds and gives us a yardstick to measure the inadequacies of places that don’t have these choices. Oats, wheat or barley? Multicolored or all the same color? Flakes or clusters? Yes, clearly the best of all possible worlds. Back in Australia I am amused by the choices between sliced bread designed for women and another designed for men. Australia must be pretty good too.

  2. Alison Hunter Stewart Says:

    I love this!!!! I will be playing it nonstop now!

  3. Andrew Bell Says:

    Yes, there’s definitely a potential poem in that Blog title.

    I’ve only been to mainland USA once in 1990, but I went shopping in a supermarket in Santa Barbara which is probably a fairly wealthy town in general. There were so many choices of a product that it made my head spin. Give me 2-3 choices, maximum! They even had pre-prepared peanut butter and jelly in a jar with layers of peanut butter interspersed with layers of jelly.

  4. admin Says:

    Andrew, what a great story – I have never seen pre-layered peanut butter and jelly in a jar, but I am going to keep my eyes peeled from now on.

  5. admin Says:

    Yup! Do you have an escalator, though? Part of the challenge is to get the identification of the sin done in the time it takes to be whisked part the ad. Good luck!

  6. admin Says:

    One kind of sliced bread for women and another for men? That takes the cake.

  7. Michelle Elvy Says:

    Great post. Great game. I’m going to play it with my kids.
    Meanwhile — yes, the excess is mind-numbing. Sometimes when I visit the US I am frozen by indecision, just too many goddamn choices. :)

  8. admin Says:

    Thanks Michelle. We’ve just returned from a trip to Miami – which must be in the running for Most Excesses Imaginable. We invented some more sisters for “washed three times…” e.g. “Automatic flush so you don’t have to…”

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