flavors posts

ChittahChattah Quickies May 10th, 2012

Innovations Like Instagram Are Tough for Large Companies [NYT] – Large companies try so many different ways to create subsets of their culture that is somehow more free. Ray Ozzie did it at Microsoft, through architecture and interior design. I do wonder how many leaders treat this like a cultural problem, though, and bring the appropriate solutions to bear.

Leica, Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus didn’t build Instagram, either. Michael Hawley, who is on Kodak’s board, said the answer could be summed up in one word: culture. “It’s a little like asking why Hasbro didn’t do Farmville, or why McDonald’s didn’t start Whole Foods,” said Mr. Hawley. “Cultural patterns are pretty hard to escape once you get sucked into them. For instance, Apple and Google are diametrical opposites in so many ways, have all the skills, but neither of them did Instagram, either.” Neither could Facebook. If it could, it wouldn’t have paid $1 billion to acquire the small team of engineers and access to the program’s 30 million users. The challenge of creating something small and disruptive inside a large company is one that many face today.

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies – A nice library of dark patterns for persuasion, manipulation, and bluster. Available in a printable poster, too.

A logical fallacy is usually what has happened when someone is wrong about something. It’s a flaw in reasoning. They’re like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians and the media to fool people. Don’t be fooled! This website and poster have been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head. If you see someone committing a logical fallacy, link them to the relevant fallacy to school them in thinky awesomeness.

The Outsourced Life [NYT] – Arlie Hochschild with an insightful and slightly alarming perspective on the consequences of a service society. How does the increasing possibility for outsourcing (also: buying our way into something) change what we bring, expect, or get out of our lives?

The very ease with which we reach for market services may help prevent us from noticing the remarkable degree to which the market has come to dominate our very ideas about what can or should be for sale or rent, and who should be included in the dramatic cast – buyers, branders, sellers – that we imagine as part of our personal life. It may even prevent us from noticing how we devalue what we don’t or can’t buy. A prison cell upgrade can be purchased for $82 a day in Santa Ana, Calif., and for $8 solo drivers in Minneapolis can buy access to car pool lanes on public roadways. Earlier this year, officials at Santa Monica College attempted to allow students to buy spots in oversubscribed classes for $462 per course. Even more than what we wish for, the market alters how we wish. Wallet in hand, we focus in the market on the thing we buy. In the realm of services, this is an experience – the perfect wedding, the delicious “traditional” meal, the well-raised child, even the well-gestated baby.

As we outsource more of our private lives, we find it increasingly possible to outsource emotional attachment. A busy executive, for example, focuses on efficiency; his assistant tells me, “My boss outsources patience to me.” The wealthy employer of a household manager detaches herself from the act of writing personal Christmas-present labels. A love coach encourages clients to think of dating as “work,” and to be mindful of their R.O.I. – return on investment, of emotional energy, time and money. The grieving family member hires a Tombstone Butler to beautify a loved one’s burial site.

Snack makers’ “Red Caviar” Lay’s and “Mango-orange” Oreos appeal more to global tastes [Winnipeg Free Press] – Some possible acquisitions for my Museum of Foreign Groceries.

After noticing sales of Oreos were lagging in China during the summer, Kraft added a green tea ice cream flavour. The cookie combined a popular local flavour with the cooling imagery of ice cream. The green tea version sold well, and a year later, Kraft rolled out Oreos in flavours that are popular in Asians desserts – raspberry-and-blueberry and mango-and-orange…To get a better sense of what Russians like, PepsiCo employees travelled around the country to visit people in their homes and talk about what they eat day-to-day. That was a big task. Russia has nine time zones and spans 7,000 miles, with eating habits that vary by region. The findings were invaluable for executives. In the eastern part of the country, Pepsi found that fish is a big part of the diet. So it introduced “Crab” chips in 2006. It’s now the third most popular flavour in the country. A “Red Caviar” flavour does best in Moscow, where caviar is particularly popular. “Pickled Cucumber,” which piggybacks off of a traditional appetizer throughout Russia, was introduced last year and is already the fourth most popular flavour.

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Bart Imitates Life April 7th, 2010

I was quite amused to see two topics near to my heart appear on The Simpsons last weekend. This this episode, the Simpsons travel with Ned Flanders and other Springfieldians to Israel. Ned gets very fed up with Homer and explodes: “You come all the way to Jerusalem, the happiest place on earth, and all the photos in your camera are of funny soda pops!” Yes! My Museum of Foreign Groceries (including Israeli beverages)! Here’s Homer’s pictures:





The episode also hits on another favorite topic – bad surveys – when Marge is asked to evaluate her tour guide:

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ChittahChattah Quickies March 24th, 2010
  • Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts [BBC News] – The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger – in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts. A Cornell University team studied 52 of the most famous paintings of the Biblical scene over the millennium and scrutinized the size of the feast. They found the main courses, bread and plates put before Jesus and his disciples have progressively grown by up to two-thirds. Based on the assumption that the width of an average loaf of bread from the time should be twice that of the average disciple's head, the researchers plotted the size of the Passover evening dishes. The main meals grew 69% and plate size 66% between the oldest (carried out in 1000AD) and most recent (1700s) paintings. Bread size grew by about 23%.
  • Butch Bakery – Where Butch Meets Buttercream – "Butch Bakery was born when David Arrick felt it was time to combine a masculine aesthetic to a traditionally cute product -the cupcake. When a magazine article mentioned that cupcakes were a combination of everything "pink, sweet, cute, and magical", he felt it was time to take action, and butch it up." Flavors include Rum & Coke, Mojito, Home Run, Beer Run, Campout, Tailgate, Driller, and (ahem) Jackhammer
  • Making Design Research Less of a Mystery [ChangeOrder] – Design researchers don't work exactly like professional detectives. We don't sit down with their users and start asking them point-blank questions regarding a single moment in time, such as, "Exactly where were you on the night of November 17th, when Joe Coxson was found floating face-down in a kiddie pool?" We don't consider the users as criminals, having perpetrated crimes against the state—our clients?—that must be solved. The crimes are the points of friction that go remarked (or unremarked) about the course of our subject's lives, in using the tools that surround them, and in the myths and beliefs that drive their everyday behavior. Our methods of detection are geared towards being sponges, soaking up both the large-scale and minute details that indicate layers of behavior that may have gone unremarked in the design and everyday use of various products, services, and interactive systems.
  • The Medium – Shelf Life [NYTimes.com] – People who reject e-books often say they can’t live without the heft, the texture and the scent of traditional books. This aria of hypersensual book love is not my favorite performance. I sometimes suspect that those who gush about book odor might not like to read. If they did, why would they waste so much time inhaling? Among the best features of the Kindleis that there’s none of that. The device, which consigns all poetry and prose to the same homely fog-toned screen, leaves nothing to the experience of books but reading. This strikes me as honest, even revolutionary….Most of these books were bought impulsively, more like making a note to myself to read this or that than acquiring a tangible 3-D book; the list is a list of resolutions with price tags that will, with any luck, make the resolutions more urgent. Though it’s different from Benjamin’s ecstatic book collecting, this cycle of list making and resolution and constant-reading-to-keep-up is not unpleasurable.
  • Human-flesh Search Engines in China [NYTimes.com] – The popular meaning of the Chinese term for human-flesh search engine is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.
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Adventures in taste March 6th, 2007

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I run into these Kettle Chips any time I’m in a fancy/yuppie/specialty kind of food store. I admit to not having paid attention closely over the years, but I remember them appearing as a brand of authentic old-timey traditional (i.e., “quality”) chips, and it seems that all of a sudden they’ve been coming out with crazier and crazier flavors.

This would be a good Consumed piece, don’t you think? How did the brand offering evolve to what it is now? Their website outlines their commitment to adventurous flavors, all natural, and more on the type of ingredients and preparation process. Much of that is typical for a food company, but the flavors is an interesting twist. I’m reminded of Method, who have built a story around cleaning products that are safe, not animal-tested, effective, smell good, and are packaged to look good. You can pick one or two of those (i.e., beautiful packaging) as a hook and identify with that, rather than have the whole story be important. It’s surprising to see a gourmet/quality story with unusual flavors, it’s surprising to see a safe cleanser with a gorgeous package that you can leave out. But beyond surprise is a sense that these might be the real attractors, while all that other stuff is just fine, of course.

Meanwhile, thinking about flavors reminded me of the awesome social commentary found in this riff from the Kids in the Hall:

In the beginning, there was Miracle Whip. One kind of cheese, and fish came in sticks. Bread was white, and milk was homo [there is a carton of “homo milk”]. Our condiments were mustard, relish, and ketchup. Our spices were salt, pepper, and paprika. These were our sacraments. [closes fridge]

Garlic was ethnic. Mysterious. Something out of the Arabian Nights. And then one day it happened. Food exploded. People, yeah, people put down their Alan’s Apple Juice and share of pudding, picked up a bowl of tofu, slathered it with President’s Choice spicy Thai sauce, yeah, and washed it all down with a mango-guava seltzer.

You know, there are so many new products nowadays and I confess half of them I can’t identify. I guess it’s like that with people too. You know I can’t tell a pita bread from a cactus pear or a Korean from a Filipino. I feel left behind. I do. I’m not *modern*.

I’m embarrassed to buy water in a bottle unless it’s for the iron. And I still believe– call me square but I still believe that tangerines are just for Christmas. You know what? I think it all started with marble cheese. I do! Yep. Well, think about it ’cause right after they introduced that, they came up with salt and vinegar chips. Then it was sour cream ‘n’ onion, homestyle, before you know it chips were being sold in a tuuube. Where will it all end?

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Signs to Override Human Nature? August 23rd, 2006

We see these in small retail all the time – handwritten signs exhorting the customer to follow some non-natural path of behavior in order to simplify the merchant-centered purchase process. Here’s a fun one, where the experience is pretty cool anyway, and the creativity and ineffectiveness of the signs is something to smile about, rather than grimace.
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The setting certainly helps. In the town of Waimea, on Kauai, on your way to getting a sweet and cold treat – shave ice.

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The cash register sits underneath the most awesomely diverse and interesting list of flavors. You approach the guy at the cash and of course you want to say how many you want, and what sizes, and (after having gaped open-mouthed at the display for a few minutes) the flavors.

The signs attempt to warn you off from doing that, but it’s human nature. And with each person that tries to ask for a flavor, the cash guy tells them ‘I don’t care about flavors. I just need to know what size you want.”

They are so dogged with their insistence, but they’ve designed an experience where it’s entirely natural to ask for the flavors right then. Nope.

He’ll go and get the plain shave ice (with ice cream, if you want it) and then at another counter they take your flavor order. It may end up being the same guy working the other counter, or someone else. But they don’t care about flavors, until you get to the flavor counter.

It’s not so terrible that they go through the same thing over and over again, it’s just a great example of design and human nature and the ever-present sign which purports to fix the whole thing by simply warning people what not to do!

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This sign is posted behind the cashier.
1. How many Shaved would you like (ice)?
2. What are the sizes you would like?
3. Would you like ice cream on the bottom?
4. Would you like our tasty creams on the top of your ice We have Vannilla Cream And also Haupia cream (which is coconut)
5. We do also sale extras so this would be the time to ask for them
Mahalo (thank you)

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The cutaway detail of the Halo Halo Shave Ice is pretty neat. Nice combination of 2D and 3D presentation of the details:
Haupia cream topping
cocohut
Shave Ice
Haupia cream topping
Halo Halo
Ice cream opsional [sic] with Halo Halo

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Jolt Cola Battery Bottle March 14th, 2006

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Jolt has relaunched with new packaging and new flavors

  • Cherry Bomb
  • Cola
  • Red
  • Ultra
  • Blue
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Mmmm, drippings October 17th, 2005

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Kraft Food Ingredients has designed Pan Drippings Flavors, a “new line of home-style flavorings that embodies the aromatic, mouthwatering flavor of meat pan drippings.”

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