Pavlov's Return

"Cereal Premiums"... those little cello-wrapped surprises in your box of Milk Duds. When I was a kid I never heard anyone call them Premiums. It was Toy! or Prize! or Special Offer!

A while back I commented about the loss felt as an adult. After all those years of conditioning I expect a surprise in my food product. I mourn slightly for the missing toy each time I open a tin of coffee and find only coffee. It's ritual that knits society together. You can't build one into a soul and then simply throw it away.

Well, today the balance has been righted.

My large tin of cheap-o coffee came decorated with words celebrating some sort of special offer, which I had ignored while in the supermarket, selecting it instead on merit of low economic impact.

But lo, inside was the unmistakable cellophane wrapper of an Extra. Surprise! Bliss! A silent tiny hole in my heart was filled.

And inside this wrapper? No, there wasn't a magic decoder ring or a cartoon brain teaser. There was a "Dream House Sweeps" offering.... I see that manufacturers have modified the definition of "treat" to embrace the perceived age and concerns of tinned coffee drinkers.

I also note that it's believed we don't expect as much as when we were kids. At least then they gave me a keen plaything to keep me viewing their logo. All I got this time was a colored piece of paper. Essentially junk mail. Spam. Packaged as if it's a treat. Is the pavlovian response so strong that mere wrapped advertising can get people to choose an otherwise ordinary coffee?

This has to be weirder than choosing clothing because it advertises the manufacturer's name in text.

This site is strictly personal. I give no guarantee to the accuracy of my facts or my fictions.
© 2000 Owen Briggs
last modified on 08dec00