Once upon a time, long ago and quite possibly in a galaxy far, far away, products were advertised by what they contained: for example I remember an advert from the aforesaid time and place with the tag line "full of nourishing marrowbone jelly" (I believe this was for some sort of dog food, but if it wasn't then "Ewww-ww-w!")1
Even if this superfluity was of intangible things, like the Turkish Delight candy "Full of Eastern promise"2, or even allusively as when "just a little dab'll do ya"3 has the certain implicature that that dab is just chock full of nourishing promise, or even if it's just the boring old sex-appeal that it filled the potential user with—it was the contents or additives that seemed to add contentment to the customer.
But nowadays, though, the world has changed (or people have, which amounts to the same thing) and now it seems that almost everything is advertised by what it doesn't have in it. This is not to suggest that there aren't things that some people should avoid, for their health or morals, or indeed that all people should avoid (especially for their morals), but that we have switched as the old song has it from accentuating the positive and latching on to the affirmative to eliminating the negative and presumably not messing with Mister In-Between.
Yes, everything now is not thingy-stuffed, but rather so-and-so-free, particularly free from, if you will excuse my use of such a frightening and disgusting term, GLUTEN! Gluten, destroyer of worlds and digestive tracts, insidious agent of Big Wheat, and of course the Poster Child for exclusion and Cancel Culture.
Even things that are not now nor have ever been members of the Glutenist Party are likely to make an unwelcome appearance before the Un-American Food Products Committee.
Consider the billboard advertising a or Shaquille O'Neal's gluten-free Luv Shaq vodka, neither of which can possibly be compared with gluten-rich competitors. I'm surprised that they are not also claimed to be fat-free and produced in nut-free environments, because whilst the G-word strikes fear, it is not alone.
I must admit that I have fallen for the fat-free fad myself, being partial to watery milk on my morning cereal. So of course I think that's OK, unlike...
And not just the nuts themselves, but guilt by nut-association: nuts should apparently be shunned, but so should any foods that have met nuts, even if only briefly and in a public space with no intimacy implied.
The absences that make the heart grow fonder aren't limited to the bits you don't eat: even jeans particularly women's (or jeggings or silly juggins or whatever they call them now) have holes ripped in them as a selling point: you can now pay good money to pretend that you haven't spent good money, or indeed even mediocre money! Often there seems to be more hole than jean or jegging or silly juggin: never before in the field of human couture has so much empty air cost so much to cover so little for so many.
And it's spreading. I once saw, in that Hell-on-Earth for husbands, the underwear department of JCPenney, a bra that was promoted as 'Wirefree' and 'Strapless' I wonder that it was not also . At first I misread Wirefree as 'Wireless' which left me puzzling for a moment if it was via Bluetooth or WiFi and indeed why anyone would want an internet connection for their...um...bumpier regions in the first place.
But to finish as we began.
How do you feel about a pretty-well everything-free meal? There is, apparently, a Chinese Restaurant in New York City4 where "Our entire menu is gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free, peanut-, cashew- and pistachio-free."
and where they "use non-GMO oil, and never refined sugar, MSG or food colouring."
So basically what sounds like an empty plate, almost certainly with the promise that it has been washed in cool mountain spring, chlorine (not to mention all the other halogens)-free water. Oh yes, and the Chinese Restaurant's Caucasian ownership? Chinese-free of course...
Cheerio for now
and enjoy a satisfying
Richard Howland-Bolton-free couple of weeks.
1 Rich with nourishing marrowbone jelly. Pedigree Chum dog food: 1974.
2 Fry's Turkish Delight is a chocolate sweet made by Cadbury.
3 Brylcreem. See also this YouTube.
A White Restaurateur Advertised 'Clean' Chinese Food. Chinese-Americans Had Something to Say About It.
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