Thursday, June 15, 2006

Variety Packs

A life lesson that bulk shoppers pick up very quickly is this: if you purchase something in a variety pack, you will never like every single flavour or brand in the pack. It seems to be mathematically impossible for a food company to create a variety pack that's 100% appetizing if there are more than 3 different types bundled together. For example, on my shelf at work I have the following:

  • Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars: Strawberry and Blueberry are keen. Apple Cinnamon, not so hot.

  • Potato Chips: Hooray for Cheetos, Fritos and Cool Ranch Doritos, but did they have to make 20% of the variety pack Nacho Cheese Doritos? At least they've stopped putting in the Bar-B-Que potato chips. I always donated those to the hungry homeless, a.k.a. the Lunch Room.

  • Quaker Granola Bars: Chocolate Chip? Good. S'mores? Good. Peanut Butter Chunk? Your mom is a peanut butter chunk.

  • Chef Boyardee Lunches: Beefaroni and Spaghetti are great but Ravioli and Mini Ravioli are like little bundles of joy, except instead of joy, they're filled with half-cooked meat feces. Yes, I realize that all four products are made from the same base ingredients, but it's all in the presentation.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's a massive consumer conspiracy in which the companies take all the products that don't sell on their own and bundle them with the stuff you do want for profit (see also, Scotchgard). As long as the good bits outnumber the bad bits, shoppers like me will find it cost-effective to purchase the variety pack and grimace through it.

The variety pack rule applies in other areas as well. You may have a circle of friends that you love to hang around with, but they come with one weenie that no one really likes and just tags along like a little brother. If you plan on marrying, you have to weigh your rampant lust for your partner against the annoyance factor of the people who will become your in-laws. Generally it turns out to be worth it despite the added baggage -- Americans can never resist a case of "Buy One, Get Five Free" even if the Freebies are riff-raff.

Augmented Fourth added to the IF Wiki
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