by Bob Sparrow
It’s February and my New Year’s ‘diet resolution’ was already as precarious as a politicians promise; then along comes those adorable, freckled-faced girls in green uniforms to push it completely over the precipice. Yes, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time and I was first approached by those purveyors of baked goods as I came out of my local super market last week. I rationalize my purchase by telling myself I’m supporting a good cause, and deep down I knew that I was really not going to get much thinner . . . again this year. So I walked up to their card table set up outside the grocery store door and pondered my options.
I like Peanut Butter cookies and Thin Mints, but I love the Samoans – those vanilla cookies topped with caramel and sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolaty stripes – they are ‘good-bye diet’ delicious! I said, “I’ll take a box of Thin Mints, a box of Peanut Butter cookies and 5 boxes of Samoans.” Yes, 5 boxes. I knew I could polish off one box by the time I drove home from the grocery store.
The next words I heard temporarily shattered my cookie-eating world. “OK, thank you, but we don’t have Samoans anymore.” I froze and stared at this little person delivering this tragic news and started to put my wallet back in my pocket, “We now call them ‘Caramel deLites’ – they’re the same thing”, she continued as she handed me a box to examine. I was offended on two fronts, although I tried not to show it as I knew the young lady standing and smiling in front of me with a tooth missing, had nothing to do with either. First, these cookies are not ‘Lite’ anything – a serving, which is 2 cookies about the size of a silver dollar, is 130 calories – that’s more than a pint of Guinness! Just sayin’. Secondly, and more importantly, are we no longer calling them Samoans because by doing so we could be offending Samoans everywhere? Was the name changed out of concern for being politically correct? Give me a break! What country or ethnic group would not want to have that delicious cookie named after them?!”
I almost gave the boxes back, but I was fairly sure that the Girl Scout standing in front of me probably didn’t have much to do with the name change and certainly wouldn’t follow my comparing and contrasting the calories with a Guinness. So I tried to take the high road and paraphrased Shakespeare saying, ” I suppose a Samoan by any other name doth taste as sweet.” At that point the Girl Scout’s mother, not knowing what her daughter was going to be subjected to next, stepped between her daughter and me and encouraged me to either buy something or move along, that there were people behind me who didn’t care about the name, the calories, or Shakespeare for that matter, saying, “We’re just trying to sell cookies here to send our girls to camp.” Which was code for, “Quit creeping my daughter out and either buy some cookies or get the hell out of the way.”
On my way home, while finishing off that box of Samoans (I refuse to call them ‘Caramel de-Lites’), I was thinking, about the misuse of the word ‘Lite’ in advertising as well as the hyper-sensitivity to being ‘politically correct’. I get it that some Native American Indians don’t want to be a ‘mascot’ of American sports teams, but if we’re insulting the Samoans by naming a cooking after products from their islands, then we need to look at changing a number of other food items if we are genuinely concerned about being politically correct’. To wit:
– I’m sure we’ve insulted the English by naming a muffin after them?
– We’ve certainly insulted the Brazilians by naming a nut after them!
– I suppose Italian pizza should be called ‘Lo-Cal Mediterranean Cheese, Meat & Sauces on Lite Bread’
– Are we still insulting the Polish by naming a sausage after them?
– I’m not sure if Scottish folks are insulted by having Scotch named after them – or were they named after the Scotch?
– And what about the Turkey sandwich? Oh, never mind.
– Should Maine lobster with drawn butter now be called ‘Northeastern crustacean with Lite oleo’
Well perhaps I do need some political sensitivity training, and I’ll get some as soon as the Girl Scouts bring back the Samoans.