Saturday, 31 May 2008

Serving Suggestion

I was feeling hungry this morning, so I made myself some breakfast:

I couldn't help noticing something strange on the label of the mustard:

Not the fact that they give you 397 grams of mustard and are too stingy to just round it up to 400, not the fact that they have a picture of a hotdog laced with French's, but rather the small print next to this picture which says "Serving Suggestion". They put this on food labels so that you don't think that you're getting all the items pictured.

I know they're an American company, but are they seriously worried about getting sued because a customer squeezed all of the mustard out of the bottle thinking that a hotdog was going to emerge, complete with a bread roll?

Years ago I remember watching a TV programme where they got people to send "Serving Suggestions". So I had a look around my kitchen and found the following examples.

Note the half-eaten bread next to the bowl, and the sprig of green stuff in the soup.

These sprigs appear everywhere. Do people always keep a spare mushroom handy to chuck on the table when they're serving tinned mushroom soup? Well, they would if they paid more attention to the suggestions.

The picture is completely wrong, anyway. I never serve mushroom soup like this. I only have it to make Green Bean Casserole. Maybe I should send Campbell's a photo. I bet their sales would rocket.

Yet more sprigs. The only reason they need the small print is because the products don't come with them. Sack the legal team and spend the money on giving us a sprig...

I find this last one baffling:

This is from some microwavable vegetable rice. People who buy this type of product don't have fresh garden peas, corn and peppers in their house. Believe me, I know.

I was surprised that there were no "Serving Suggestions" on Sainsbury's Humous. So I've produced the following, which I'm hoping they'll pay me good money for. I didn't have a sprig handy, but that can always be added later. What do you think?

Don't give up the day job? I thought so. Well, that's a very helpful suggestion, thankyou.


Dan said...

tic tac toe

Dan said...

if its got a stupid warning on it it's because it happened to someone, like all hair blow dryers say " do not use in the shower"
they put that there because someone did.

A bought a fan once that came with a warning that said "keep fingers away while in use"

Brian o Vretanos said...


It's called evolution and natural selection...

I bet someone stupid enough to try to dry their hair whilst showering wouldn't read all the warnings anyway.

We solve the problem here by not allowing power sockets in bathrooms.

Tracy said...

I was going to say what dan said in his second comment.
Last summer I was putting Miracle Grow on my vegetable garden and I happened to notice the warning on the bottle. It said:
Do not sprinkle on children or animals.

So some guy thought his kid was too short and thought "Well heck, it works in the garden, why not on Junior?"

It's amazing how stupid people can really be.

I loved your version although I would like to know what the round brown thing beside the bread is?

Brian o Vretanos said...


It's an onion that has been pickled in "strong, spiced vinegar". My favourite. Helena prefers hers in sweet vinegar. We're pickled onion fiends. They make great snacks.

Of course, if they do decide to use the photo, they'll need to put a disclaimer so that people aren't searching through the tub of houmous for an onion, gherkin, half a lemon, a part-eaten piece of bread, a knife or a plate...

Brian o Vretanos said...


Hang on, you can't sprinkle that stuff on children or animals? Does that mean that it's okay to use on (short) adults?

Jean Knee said...

this is a second hand story so it could be absolutely false.

They marketed Gerber baby food in some foreign country, it had a picture of a baby on the jar--the people thought it was made of real babies and freaked.

I haven't eaten a pickled onion in years, here they are little and called cocktail onions mmm

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

I'd forgotten about that kind of "mislabelling" of products...

Your story is very similar to one I read from the 50's or earlier in a collection of old articles from the London Times.

A company in Africa, in those days almost certainly run by Brits, or Dutchmen, or whatever, was producing Corned Beef. On the labels to promote their African beef, they had a picture of a smiling native African.

Some of the local people saw the tins being transported from the factory and thought that the Imperialists were producing tinned Africans, and this caused a riot.

Another second-hand story is the one where they started exporting tinned petfood to somewhere like Korea, and were amazed by how much the locals were buying. Cats and Dogs being a delicacy in that part of the world, they thought they were getting a real bargain ;-)

Bee said...

Okay Brian, I don't mean to be rude but... if you were ever to invite us over for breakfast, I think I'd go hungry.

What. Did. You. Put. The. Mustard. On??

Bee said...

Since I haven't been first or eleventh in a while...

Bee said...



Bee said...

And um... I'm short so yeah I tried the Miracle Grow.
Didn't work.

Brian o Vretanos said...


The mustard was on German mini-burgers. They're very nice, though probably not massively healthy. However, this is more than offset by the healthy bread & houmous side dish.

I'm afraid I'm not geared up for doing a Full English breakfast (bacon, eggs, beans, black pudding, sausages, poached tomato, fried bread)

I hardly ever have breakfast, let alone invite people over for the occasion, though Helena sometimes has bread, houmous & pickled onions in the morning.

Brian o Vretanos said...

If I were you, I'd sue those Miracle Grow people for millions for not warning you about using it on yourself.

Dan said...

You don't have power outlets in your bathrooms ?????

Is it against the law?

Brian o Vretanos said...


Yes, I think it's against the electricity regulations, and you're not allowed to break those when you do any work to your house.

We also don't have light switches - these either have to be outside the bathroom, or cord switches on the ceiling. Other than lights and fans the only other thing we have are shaver sockets, which are low-current.

Tracy said...

Oh, I was thinking it was an egg or something. I've never had a pickled onion. Sounds...interesting.

It didn't say anything about short adults so I think it must be ok right?

Brian o Vretanos said...


Pickled onions and pickled eggs are traditionally an accompaniment to Fish and Chips, one of Britain's biggest contributions to the culinary world...

Yes, I'm sure that all the stupid things not listed on the label must be absolutely fine... But don't quote me. Or sue me...

Anonymous said...

I found your site to be entertaining. I think you would get a chuckle out of the comedic stand up antics of Bill Engval. He has done a great stand up act about product usage and the "not so clever" consumer. He has addressed the product warning of the usage of a hair dryer while sleeping and the oral use of Preparation H.