Archive for September, 2011

Yogurt and Grammar: A “Review”

Preamble: I just wrote a very difficult and reluctant letter, so I’m making up for it by listening to some Transatlantic and writing this in the same unsaved Libre Office document.

Blog Proper:

Without doing any prior research, I’m going to blindly, yet confidently tell you that you are but a search engine query away from a virtually unlimited supply of unintentionally humorous (mis)use of quotation marks. I myself am no stranger to pointing them out whenever I see them, and I’m sure all around me see the “humor” in it. Usually I run into such examples on hand-written signs inside (or outside) privately-owned establishments. Some such examples include:

  • “Tips” appreciated
  • Restrooms are for “customers” only
  • We are proud of our “troops!!”

Superfluous quotation marks are particularly amusing because, unlike other common English typos, such as confusing a homonym, or skipping an apostrophe, use of quotes outside of a direct quotation implies an ironic context. Unintended irony effectively means making a liar out of oneself. And we love to see The Man expose himself as a fraud. I think that’s precisely why, lately, I’ve become jaded with nitpicking signs like those above. Those aren’t the signs of The Man. They’re the signs of high schoolers who need cash, temporary clerks not paid enough to care more, and immigrants who are perfectly literate in a language that denotes dialogue <<like this>>. Also, lately, whenever I make fun of a small business, I get the feeling that the joke’s on me on some level, owing to the fact that these proprietors actually own their own businesses, while I spend 40 hours a week ear-cuffed to a desk.

But today, it happened not on a cut-out of poster board or a quarto of cardboard, but on a glossy, professionally crafted, permanent fixture in a trendy frozen yogurt shop. It made me smile:

Contains Gluten

I’d love to tell you where I saw this, but some companies are sticklers for linking directly to their sites without express prior permission. So I’ll link to a review instead. Truthfully, the situation could be worse. It could have said:

Contains "Gluten"

Or if they really wanted to confuse someone:

Birthday Cake "Batter"

For a second I wondered if there was possibly some subtle humor in this. It all has to do with the product they’re selling: it’s imitation ice cream. It’s one of the few essentially counterfeit foodstuffs that people will seek out for its own sake. They are all but expected to go out of their way to make it look like an ice cream parlor, but just a liiiittle off, so that the patron simultaneously thinks “ice cream,” but then sees the fruit toppings and remembers “but it’s healthy.” So perhaps they are taking a lighthearted jab at their own necessary level of artificiality? Doubtful, seeing as how they got it right here:

Plain Tart

On an interesting side note, there’s no warning at all here:

Peanut Butter

I am reasonably certain that peanut butter frozen yogurt contains peanuts. Meaning no disrespect to those who have been diagnosed with a gluten insensitivity, but I’m kind surprised given this context.

Grammatical humor aside, since I was moved enough by this establishment to squeeze out a pseudo-review of it, it’s only fair to offer an honest reaction to their product.

Let’s just say I “enjoyed it.”