Dear Madam or Sir:
Enclosed, please find the cellophane package—still intact—containing croutons from our most recent Dole Completes salad kit, a creamy garlic Caesar.
First, my wife Barbara and I are anxious to establish up front our general satisfaction with your products, specifically with the Caesar salad offerings. We have no wish to be associated with the whistle-blowing, lawsuit-pursuing gadflies and nay-sayers who plague American business. We are essentially satisfied customers. Indeed, if we are what we eat, my wife and I are composed in no small part of vegetables, and of that part Dole salads must figure significantly. Hence, in the wider molecular sense of things, we consider ourselves part of the Dole family.
For this reason, it is with disappointment that I write to report a certain erosion of confidence regarding your work product—the fruits, or more accurately the vegetables of your labors to bring to the eating public a salad of the highest standards. You will grasp the nature of this disappointment after a quick check of the enclosed package.
Again, we are of your tribe, in your camp—or orchard, or garden—anyway, on your team, and for this reason we thought it our duty to bring to your attention the anomalous inclusion, with our croutons, of a unit of candy corn.
What to make of it? Things happen, of course. We know that, and we have no way of knowing what arrangements apply at your Salinas, California production facility. It’s perfectly possible to envision a candy-corn assembly line adjacent to the Creamy Garlic Caesar salad-couton production team. It’s equally possible to imagine some fault line running under this facility, and on a given day, at a certain time, here it comes, one of those geological “episodes” for which your state is well known, resulting in a pop or jump of the conveyor belt that sends a lone unit of candy corn bouncing across the shop floor, onto the crouton line just at the moment of packaging.
But I have to say, anxious though I am to think well of people who have consistently brought to my table a good if somewhat pricey food item, that other, less palatable scenarios suggest themselves.
I associate candy corn with Halloween. In fact, fifty or so years ago, in late October I was composed partially of candy corn as I am these days of Dole salad. Back then, my father was in the habit of sampling my take of Halloween candy. He liked cheap sweets, and since I was good at trick-or-treating, it was no problem sharing my stash with him. Why wouldn’t I? He was going to send me to college in ten years, I owed him.
It’s easy to imagine similar circumstances among members of your production staff.
Unhappily, though, it’s also easy to imagine such a person with a child’s candy corn at the ready, in his jeans or bib overalls, snacking to keep himself going on what I would guess is a pretty hot job. There he or she is, toasting millions of croutons, just the kind of work that must mean lots of big changes in temperature—out for a smoke in the chilly morning air, back inside to do more toasting, out again to help load another pallet of salad fixings into a semi-trailer (this version of things may not be consistent with current contract work rules, but you get the picture).
Under these conditions, such a person will be susceptible to colds, flu, any number of unpleasant health problems. You don’t need to watchContagion, or read zombie novels to see where I’m taking this. Our hard-working, latex-glove-wearing salad technician is toasting away, doing his best with a low-grade fever. To cheer himself up, he pops in some of his kid’s trick-or-treat take—and without warning, seized by a chill, he coughs out a nasty gobbet of phlegm and candy corn, right there on the fast-moving toaster-oven conveyor belt.
It isn’t a stretch to see someone in this position–now remembering for perhaps the tenth time since breakfast that what’s in his wallet doesn’t include a green card–not pushing the button to stop the conveyor belt. A belt so speedy and efficient that the little package of baked bread cubes has already been popped into a salad and whisked off to southern Michigan.
See what’s happened? We aren’t just talking about nasal or bronchial congestion. This small piece of candy corn, found in a place where it doesn’t belong has infected one consumer’s imagination with some pretty nasty images. Images regarding not just croutons, but all the vast array of steps and stages that must figure in the complex salad production-and-assembly process.
Not fair, perhaps, but understandable. What you can be expected to do about a problem as knotty as mental images of pullulating flu viruses crawling off the hands of migrant workers, or flying from the mouths of half-dead factory employees I don’t know. Nothing, I suppose. It is to be hoped, though, that knowledge of this kind—news from the other side of our consumer society—might serve to encourage tighter quality control.
That, or, more realistically from a business standpoint, a change in labelling to satisfy the lawyers. “And other,” or “Misc” might work. In any case, we return to you the croutons, et al, and invite you to include them with what we hope is a small private collection of such oddities at corporate headquarters.
At least you can take them to the water cooler on Monday morning. Or get them out when things start to flag at next year’s Christmas party.
Passing (on) the salad,
Barry and Barbara Knister
The Higgs Weldon is a humor website with funny stories, articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was started by the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!