Petty Consumer Activism
There’s nothing quite like emailing the Campbell Soup Company to bring a little petty glee into an otherwise grouchy day.
Dear Campbell’s Soup people:
I came home today in a lousy mood and hungry to boot, so I reached for a can of Where’s Waldo? shaped pasta – hooray for convenient comfort foods! However, I was quite irritated when I turned the can around to find that claims about your product’s nutritive benefits (which I do not dispute, as I’m sure you’ve run them past a sharp legal department with an extraordinarily well-developed understanding of the FDA’s technical definition of “vegetables”) were specifically – and, I feel, unecessarily – directed to mothers.
There is a social expectation that mothers will be the ones primarily responsible for their children’s nutrition (as well as for the lion’s share of other domestic duties), and I believe that this expectation contributes to women’s continuing difficulties in the upper echelons of the workforce. I certainly don’t blame food packaging for the effects of a complex culture, and I don’t really want to spread evangelical feminism among the customer service department either (yes I do, but I think it’d be more fun to break in with pamphlets so we can microwave our bras in the break room); I’m just trying to explain why I was annoyed that your label was addressed to just “moms” rather than “moms and dads”.
Happily, there are many tasty convenience meals in the supermarket that contain no gratuitous gender stereotypes at all (how do they ever create brand recognition without knee-jerk sexism? Their marketing departments must be geniuses! Or else they have an even better understanding of the FDA’s definition of “vegetable” than you guys do, which would be amazing. Frankly I’m in awe of your legal team, because remember what happened when word got out as to how ketchup was counted as a vegetable on school lunch menus? And they only said that the tomato puree counted as one vegetable, not a single serving of multiple “vegetables”! You’re not thinking vegetable oil or paprika, are you?) I hope that the Franco-American line of amusingly shaped pastas will join them.
Infinite Crusader for Justice and the Blurred Gender Roles more Appropriate to the Subject of an Andy Warhol Painting, and also the Official Status of Tomatoes as a Legal Fruit to Further the Sophisticated Botanical Discourse of Our Great Nation!
Actually what I sent was shorter. Maybe I should’ve included more of those parenthetical asides – or maybe they were counting the high fructose corn syrup as one of their vegetables, I think I’d be okay with that.