Wednesday 27 May 2009

Tight Fist Tip #4: Avoid Products Described With Unnecessary Adjectives

Sorry, I Was Looking For a Half Food

An important clue to easily tell if any product is a rip-off is whether it is described using completely non-informative adjectives. For instance, consider the following boardroom scenario:

Stupid Manager: Gee, we sure aren't going to make much of a profit off of all these dried tomatoes that we need to sell.
Stupid Junior Marketing Guy: Hey, I know, why don't we add a completely useless adjective to describe our product! Then we can totally jack up the price. How about we chuck them out in the sun for a sec then call them 'Sun Dried Tomatoes'?
SM: That would never work! People aren't possibly stupid enough to pay more for tomatoes that were dried in the sun rather than any other way, because there is absolutely no difference.
SJMG: But they will, because they are morons!
SM: Genius! You're promoted!

Yes, completely non-informative adjectives are used in tons of products to trick people into thinking that they are somehow better than other products that don't have these adjectives. But really, you need to just step back and think: do these adjectives give me any more relevant information about the product I am about to buy? If not, you are almost certainly being duped.

The worst offenders in this category are restaurant menus. Every restaurant wants to justify its ridiculous prices by making its dishes look somehow special. For instance, a normal restaurant would serve eggs, toast, and hash browns. But this snooty manhattan restaurant instead chooses to serve:

Baked Farm Eggs two tello's green farm eggs with roasted potatoes, nettle meadow chèvre and thyme, served with amy's toast and best of market greens

For 15 dollars! But this helps us get started in spotting some common restaurant menu trickery. Note that all examples below are taken from actual New York City menus.

1. "Amy's Bread" - I mean, who the hell is Amy? For all I know, she is the busboy's dog. Any food named after some random person is not to be trusted.

2. "Natural Beef" - 'Wow, I was expecting to eat a steak made out of Play-Doh! But, they have beef from real cows here? Amazing!' The word 'natural' used to describe food means nothing.
I only eat burgers that have been heat cooked

3. "Wok-sautéed greens" - Man, if the pan used to cook these greens was flat instead of conical they would have totally sucked!

4. "New Zealand lamb" - Mmmm, I can really taste the...New Zealand?

And finally,

5. "Air-Baked Organic Belgian Fries" - This is wrong on so many levels, but I've got a fiver for anyone who can enlighten me on how it is possible to bake in the absence of air.

You will never look at a menu the same way again. Enjoy!


  1. For someone so notoriously cheap, you're offering an awful lot of money for a creative solution to airless baking.

  2. I'm assuming this is pounds.

  3. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a snooty restaurant menu with a straight face again.

  4. What about dehydrated foods, maybe vacuum-dried potatoes? I think these industrial food processing machines sometimes have a heating element, so it's like an oven that bakes in the absence of air...

  5. I dunno Arlo- I think you would have to provide a bit more evidence. However, i think you could beat this question by attacking the definition of 'Air'. Surely you need a gas present to bake something, but if you used say, pure nitrogen, it would probably work.

    I think I owe myself five quid. Score!!!

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  7. Fuckinel! Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes was one of my favorite Italian food.

  8. Air is 70% N. You're going to have to try harder.

  9. Well, if part of the definition of air is that it is 70% nitrogen, then 100% nitrogen is not air. Or just use any gas that you couldn't really classify as air, and you're done.

  10. Sulfur Hexafluoride has both good thermal conductivity and a high heat capacity.

  11. This is getting too intellectual for this blog.

  12. Here in the U.S. I sometimes feel we are a bunch of stupid morons. Have you seen the ads we are subjected to? I am so sick of them that I usually go surfing, only one problem, they are all on at the same time.

    So they play "Gotcha!"