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21 Februar 2005 @ 10:40
Contingency in packaging  

I've given up on truth in advertising. However, I do still hold out some foolish hope that the assertions printed on the layers of paper and plastic that surround the goods I purchase will at least be contingent—that is, that their truth or falsehood will depend upon some fact about the state of the real world. But alas! this is not always the case. Here are two examples of packages that cannot possibly be telling the truth, no matter what the real world is like:

Contradiction #1: Treats blows hot and cold

The first piece of evidence I would like to share with you is one of those cardboard sheaths that are designed to insulate the midriffs of paper coffee cups. This particular sheath is from a place called Treats. In addition to simply providing the sheath, Treats decided to take the further precaution of emblazoning it with a warning about the high temperature of the beverage within. However, they evidently worried that this warning might show their product in too unflattering a light, so they had it describe the coffee as "hot and fresh" rather than just "hot." Then they made the mistake of translating the warning into French without paying attention to polysemy:

Attention! Contenu chaud et frais

Contradiction #2: "My country" ce n'est pas un pays, c'est margarine

My second piece of evidence is the lid from a container of Lactantia margarine. At least, I think it's margarine. I can't tell what it's made of, though:

Made from 100% soya oil / Made with buttermilk

What, exactly, does 100% mean in this context?

wolfangel78 on 21. Februar, 2005 10:21 (UTC)
I wonder why anyone would need to be *warned* that the coffee is fresh. "Dammit, I wanted old, stale coffee! Why do they keep doing this to me?"

The patriotic margarine is made of oil and buttermilk; the part of the oil that is soya is all soya. (I suspect they're trying to imply that all the oil is soya, but I suspect also that it's somewhat misleading packaging.)
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 21. Februar, 2005 13:13 (UTC)
ateo on 21. Februar, 2005 14:39 (UTC)
What's the significance of their preposition choice? It's made from soy, with buttermilk!

If you look at Log Cabin syrup bottles, you'll see a big bold statement: "made with real maple syrup." It turns out that Log Cabin syrup contains 2% maple syrup (and, I suppose, 100% corn syrup, and is also made with a few artificial flavors and colors and stuff).

Your margarine, who knows... One could hope that they are just rounding up; maybe it's 99.985% soy oil... Just like those nonfat icecreams; the package claims it's also cholesterol-free, but if you read the ingredients list, you'll see it says "nonfat milk powder (adds a trivial amount of cholesterol)".
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 21. Februar, 2005 14:47 (UTC)

I was wondering about the prepositions, too. I think that if I wanted to say what I assume they meant, I would say "made with 100% soya oil" instead—with, to me, suggests more clearly that there may be other ingredients. "Made from pure soya oil and buttermilk" would be better still, although there's a structural ambiguity there (is the buttermilk pure, too, or just the soya oil?); the opposite order ("made from buttermilk and pure soya oil") removes the ambiguity, but incorrectly suggests that buttermilk, rather than soya oil, is the primary ingredient.

ateo on 21. Februar, 2005 15:12 (UTC)
Hmm, "made from pure soya oil; buttermilk added for great flavor"?