27 January 2009
26 January 2009
On Facebook this morning I was invited by my friend Brad to join the "Save the Heinz Pickle" group. So I did. I'd read the story about Heinz' reasoning for dropping the pickle and adding a tomato to the bottles, but fail to see why both couldn't coexist on the label in some fashion.
The image of a single, large, vine-ripened tomato is much larger than the pickle it's replacing and better reflects what's inside the bottle, said Noel Geoffrey, director of ketchup for Pittsburgh-based Heinz.
Playing up ketchup's natural roots also feeds into consumers' growing desire for more wholesome, natural foods, analysts and the company said. The new label includes the tagline "Grown not made.""We really felt that the tomato is the hero of ketchup, and it was the right time to make the switch on our label," Geoffrey said.
Clearly the story was largely based upon spoon-fed consumer research and a press release that Heinz crafted to put a positive spin on a ill-conceived notion. I mean, for God's sake, we know that tomatoes make ketchup and that there are no pickles in the bottle. And, yes, we consumers want more wholesome, natural foods. So, how about you drop the high-fructose corn syrup and really give us the foods we seek?
Do they think we're ignorant?
The pickle has been part of Heinz' brand for decades and the logic for dropping it from their most prolific product is asinine. A USA Today article states "Heinz ketchup director Noel Geoffroy says the company is 'flattered that some people feel a sense of nostalgia about the pickle' — but the tomato stays. But take heart, pickle fans. Geoffroy says the pickle will stay in the Heinz logo on its vinegar, chili sauce and mustard."
Ketchup is made with tomatoes. Duh.
I sent an e-mail from a link to Heinz Investor Relations that I followed from the Facebook page. Here is the dismissive, patronizing response I received:
January 26, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to share with us your comments on Heinz Ketchup 'Grown Not Made' label change.
While this is the first new Heinz Ketchup label in nearly 65 years, Heinz's commitment to high-quality tomatoes and superior ingredients is not new. Since the 1930s, Heinz researchers have been developing proprietary tomato seeds through the HeinzSeed program, from which only the firmest, juiciest, freshest tomatoes are grown for America's Favorite Ketchup.
Heinz tomatoes, which we carefully nurture from seed to vine to bottle, make the perfect ketchup. The addition of the tomato to our labeling is to show Heinz's continuing commitment to quality, and superior ingredients with our iconic ketchup.
The bottles featuring the new labels will begin arriving in stores throughout the first part of 2009. While Heinz is making these changes to the label, you can be sure the product inside is still the same great Heinz Ketchup with the same great taste you've come to know and love!
We truly appreciate and value all consumer opinions and we'd like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Consumer input like yours helps us to continue to make Heinz products leaders in value and quality.
Heinz Consumer Resource Center
When contacting us, please refer to the following reference number: 002959326A
Save it, Heinz. I'm not buying it. I'll buy this instead:
22 January 2009
13 January 2009
Oxen (singular ox) are cattle trained as draught animals. Often they are adult, castrated males. In New England and Maritime Canada, the term oxen refers to trained steers at least four years of age. Prior to age four they are referred to as handy steers. Oxen are used for plowing, transport, hauling cargo, threshing grain by trampling, powering machines for grinding grain, irrigation or other purposes, and drawing carts and wagons. Oxen were commonly used to skid logs in forests, and sometimes still are, in low-impact select-cut logging. Oxen are most often used in teams of two, paired, for light work such as carting. In the past, teams might have been larger, with some teams exceeding twenty animals when used for logging.As some of you know, the word is part of my name. And up to this point I hadn't seen or heard any reference to Chinese New Year, but the Year of the Ox begins January 26. I'm sure this is all coincidence. I think.
Years of the Ox have occurred four times during my life, beginning February 15, 1961, February 3, 1973, February 20, 1985 and February 7, 1997. Since I can be somewhat superstitious or at least looking for odd coincidences, parallels or "signs" I began trying to recall if any of those years bore any significant events or changes in my life -- good or bad.
I always thought she was stylish and impressive. My maternal grandmother, Grace, managed the cosmetics department at Taylor's Rexall Drugs. She wore fashionable hats, drove a white 1961 Pontiac Tempest. Her red vinyl seats were sheathed in custom, clear plastic covers complete with a geometric pattern of bubbles that as an adult I assume were supposed to improve ventilation on hot, humid Kentuckiana days. As small children, however, my sisters and I were entertained with pushing the bubbles in while my mother and grandmother talked, or more likely argued, in the front seat. She always kept beanbag ashtrays on the dashboard and used Ronson lighters, the kind with colored lids and curiosities floating inside like miniature fishing flies or glitter, to light her Bel Airs. She leaned against the driver's door as she drove, her high, teased hairdo nearly reaching the headliner. She and "Crampie" used to collect Brown and Williamson coupons and Planters Peanut wrappers to redeem for things like Mr. Peanut banks for us. I have so many more memories of her, but during the few visits we made to her house throughout my childhood I remember a small metal bookcase next to the bathroom door filled with prescription bottles for what we knew as "nerve pills." I'm still not sure I completely understand what took her, but we buried her on a cold, rainy day in rural Kentucky in 1973, at the age of 53.
This Year of the Ox also took me from middle school to junior high. Seventh grade was my first experience with gym class, locker rooms, other naked boys, and learning not to wear briefs over a jock strap after following instructions from my mother. She was my guide in life, and although she'd never worn an athletic supporter I trusted her judgement until Gary Burton, a blossoming basketball star who no doubt had an involved father who taught him the ins and outs of jock wearing, pointed and laughed at me. Throughout that year I never understood why "Chet" our health/gym teacher stood at the top of the stairs watching us dress out/dress down and shower. The whole scene was intimidating to me. Naively, I figured he was keeping sentinel to prevent inevitable locker room shenanigans like towel flipping. Many years later, I was told that his motivation was more about seeing thirty or so young men naked. Sometime in the eighth grade I was standing outside with some friends before school early one windy morning and witnessed him using his hand to guard his overly-lacquered, light brown helmet of a coiffure. When we asked if he had a headache he replied, "no, I don't want my hair to get mussed, do I?" I'm serious. His relentless referral to us as "ladies" must've been a feeble attempt to prove his masculine superiority. It didn't work. I thought he was a priss.
My ex, Buddy, and I had leased a big four-square on Brook Street in Old Louisville, one with a long, narrow lot and off-street parking on a former garage pad. It was a lovely home with an entry hall, pocket doors to the living room, decks off of each floor and an established asparagus garden in the back yard. We'd shared the first and second floors with one of the ex's dependable co-workers from a restaurant downtown, "By the Bridge". I rented the third floor apartment to person with whom I wasn't acquainted and that we rarely ever saw. He seemed nice enough. He told us he was a student and he worked at a corner grocery at First and Magnolia. Over time his periodic acne and seemingly unmanageable hair was always a curiosity to me. Little did I know, I would gain more understanding of his condition than I could have wanted or imagined.
After evicting him for being several months in arrears I entered the apartment and was immediately sickened at the foot-deep, blended mess of clothes, magazines, newspapers, mail, and fast food wrappings. In the bathroom, on the back of the toilet, I saw a can of "Psssssst." This was a spray shampoo popularized by women in the early 1960s who wore bee-hives. It works on the same principal as cleaning fur coats if I understand correctly. However, I'm sure the intent wasn't to completely forgo a good scrubbing at least once a week with soap and water for a regimen of nothing but the spray. Yet, I'm sure he wasn't shampooing or bathing with any regularity as evidenced by the petrified cat turds in the bathtub.
Leaving the room to continue my assessment I went into the kitchen, where I discovered that he'd never brought in a refrigerator or stove. I'd offered to provide the appliances while negotiating the rental agreement, but he assured me that he had some of his own and that he wanted to move them in. Thankfully, this meant that there wasn't a waiting Frigidaire laboratory needing fumigation. But it did mean that I'd find spoiled leftovers in take-out boxes and random pieces of Tupperware mixed with canned goods and dirty dishes inside the cabinets.
I used a large gravel shovel to clean out the apartment and apparently the timing was perfect. Shortly after all this, my in-laws' trailer suspiciously burned to the ground. I heard tales of a drunken threat from my stepfather-in-law. The investigation concluded that the fire started with the oven. So, the three of them -- mom, step dad and teenage son -- moved in with us. Then there was a trip to Detroit to rescue my mother-in-law's sister and her dog from a toxic living arrangement with a man who wore a bad toupee and invested in too many Franklin Mint collections. While this aunt could be charming she was more often obnoxious and hateful, lit up like a neon sign with cheap bourbon purchased from the sundries store a block away.
The sisters were from northwestern Tennessee where another sister still lived, and between them they decided it was time to move back home. I had been working a dead-end job at a 36-pump gas station/convenience store that friends and I sarcastically referred to as Stupid America, unable to afford tuition for school. My relationship with my family was all but non-existent because my mother misunderstood and did not want a gay son. I couldn't bear the constant scripture battering so I just stayed away. Consequently this estranged me from my little brother. It would be many years before my younger sister and I would reconcile the wrongs born of many misgivings and misdeeds on both our parts. She'd begun her career in the Air Force earlier and the distance only added to the chasm. My youngest sister was the only family member I can remember being supportive, but she was living Southern California with her Marine husband and their two baby boys. I saw a move to Memphis as an opportunity to escape, a chance to start over and an adventure. I agreed to move with my ex the following year.
At this point I had lived in Memphis for eleven years, my cheating, drug addict ex was long gone, I had been working at a good job for nine years. Cameron and I celebrated our fifth anniversary shortly after we celebrated our second year in this house that August. And if I remember correctly, 1997 was a pretty uneventful year.
All in all, these Years of the Ox seem pretty much like all the others. They all have their share of good and bad, and now, I look back on many of these memories with gratitude because they've put me where I am today. I'm not sure what this Year of the Ox will bring, but I am sure of one thing: I'm going to live this one a day at a time.
09 January 2009
I don't know what to say about this new guilty pleasure besides "Bravo, Tabatha!"
02 January 2009
I've been contemplating a New Year post for a while but haven't felt like I have much to say or share. Or, I can't seem to pull together my thoughts. I don't feel like I've had any sort of epiphany and the only thing I can think to post is best wishes for us all, for 2009.
While contemplating the things I'd like to accomplish "just for today," I remembered ABBA's Happy New Year. After listening to the video I found on YouTube, I think it embodies a spirit of regret that I hadn't noticed before. Perhaps I have only listened to the chorus.
I am choosing to look at today as the gift it can be. It's all up to me.
No regrets. Only hope and determination to do the best I can every day, one at a time.