Sunday, November 26, 2006

Serving Suggestion

(Firstly, an apology to my faithful readers for last week's very low blogging effort. My work week last week was 9 days long, and finished every morning at around 3:00 am. In that time, though, I managed to translate a total of almost 70,000 words (the translation word-count, not the original document word-count), which is a pretty royal effort, even for yours truly, so I hope that that explains my absence a little. )

Now, onto my post :)

I grew up, for all intents and purposes, on Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Every morning for almost as long as I can remember, I would wake up to yellow flakes of toasted corn floating in a sea of white milk, and often dusted with a sprinkling of some form or other of chocolate. I am not too proud to say that to this very day, I still indulge, as can be seen from answer no. 23 in this post.

As a result, one of my earliest memories of breakfast, is of struggling to read (and eventually, of course, managing to read) what was written on the back of the box. And on the front. And down the sides. I could spell Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and (The Mineral) Iron long before I think it was advisable to be able to do so; and certainly long before I had any idea what any of these were for (except of course, for the fact that they were Essential Vitamins And Minerals!). And I would constantly wait for new boxes, to see what pieces of trivia would be written on them, or what little plastic useless toys might be contained within (not forgetting, of course, the two important principles: "Net Weight 500g - Contents Might Settle In Transit", and "Keeps Fresh And Crisp In The Polythene Bag").

And despite the fact that, as time passed on, I had a full grasp of what the writing on the Corn Flakes box all meant, one pair of words continued to elude me.

Down on the bottom right-hand corner of the front of the box, apparently unconnected to anything else, were the code words "serving suggestion". Sometimes they were written with capitals too.

Now, everything else about the box was totally comprehensible, but "serving suggestion" could have been Greek for all I could understand it. I didn't even understand how the words were being used together. 'What sort of a sentence is "serving suggestion"?' I used to ask myself. Of course, I didn't ask the adults, because they might laugh at my ignorance. Instead, I would sit there, contemplating the picture of the blue and white bowl filled with cornflakes, milk being shown splashing into it, slices of banana or strawberry bouncing off enticingly, and wondering, what the bloody hell the words 'serving suggestion' were supposed to mean.

It was an embarrassingly long period of time later, when I finally realized that the 'serving suggestion' actually referred to that picture of the cornflake-filled bowl. An embarrassingly long period. So embarrassing, I'm not even going to mention how long it was. But when I finally got it, I had to laugh.

I mean, I guess that it is bad enough that I hadn't realized that they were trying to suggest that I should eat my cornflakes with milk out of a bowl, but, to my defense, I just had to cry out in protest: "but that's stupid! Who is this serving suggestion aimed at? How many other ways are there of eating this? Are there people who can't work this out for themselves? Do they really need your suggestions of how to serve cornflakes? Or are you simply trying to protect yourselves and say - 'ok, you don't have to do it this way, this is just our suggestion. We don't care. You can use other fruit. You can eat it with a fork. You can pour grapefruit juice on it or individually spread each flake with sour cream for all we care. This is just a suggestion.'? What's it all about?"

Are there people who might otherwise stare at piles of cereal and think - 'hmm, I wonder what you're supposed to do with this?' Did others once try to pour the cereal and milk onto a plate rather than into a bowl, subsequently suing Kellogg's for milk spillage and for not warning them of the dangers of not using a concave receptacle? Or perhaps there are groups of people who, having successfully navigated their cereal into a bowl, and having added not-too-much milk and assorted bouncy fruit-of-their-choice to it, congratulate each other saying: 'Well, thank anonymous-deity-of-choice for the serving suggestion on the box, otherwise we'd never have known what to do with the stuff. We were going to try building houses out of it - after all, it's filled with (The Mineral) Iron, apparently. We thought it might be magnetic. Though we think we could probably do without that Riboflavin next time - whatever it may be.'

The mind boggles.

Nonetheless, cornflakes are probably my favorite food. But I can take or leave the 'serving suggestion'.


Anonymous noorster said...

Mwahaha. Thanks for making me LOL.

26 November, 2006 06:58  

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