Thursday, July 04, 2013

“Snack Bag Wordsmith”

c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

There is a saying in the Davie Allan music forum. That looking at an album cover while listening to a vinyl platter was very much like eating breakfast cereal as a kid, while reading special offers on the box. This connection between images, record-jacket text and sound was powerful indeed. It carried us through the generation between black & white broadcasts and MTV.
Downloaded files stored on an iPod have eliminated that part of music culture in favor of convenience. But for those of us old enough to remember, the tangible nature of collecting music remains strong.  
A recent detour into the realm of snack foods provided a similar, if unexpected thrill. While enjoying a gift of salty morsels from my family, I began to read the promotional prose that was included on the vacuum-sealed bag, labeled “Deep River Snacks.”
Surprise enhanced the crisp flavors delivered by this unknown, Connecticut treat. As I ate, each word seemed to burst with a genuine passion for food on the go:

Deep River Snacks Aged Cheddar Horseradish Kettle Cooked Potato Chips 2 oz. (57 g.)

“All natural. Gluten free, certified kosher, 100% sunflower oil, non-GMO potatoes, non-GMO sunflower oil, no preservatives, no trans-fat, no MSG. Our charitable commitment – we enthusiastically support various non-profit organizations by highlighting a different charity on every flavor of Deep River Snacks. If this charity resonates with you, please consider helping their cause! (The) Chris Klug Foundation – CKF is dedicated to promoting lifesaving organ & tissue donation and improving the quality of life for those touched by donation. Scan with your smartphone (QR code) to learn more about this charity with free snacks and fun prizes.”

After finishing the package, I began to ponder. What about other snacks in the family cupboard? A quick look produced more of these informative, yet anonymous paragraphs:

Utz Kettle Classics Gourmet Dark Russets 8 oz. (226.8 g)

“This special variety of Russet results in a robust flavored dark potato chip... dark not from burning or over frying, but from the natural caramelizing of the sugars present in our precision controlled slices. As with other products in the Kettle Classics family, our small batch cooking ensures that the appearance, flavor and crunch merit the Utz name. Enjoy!”

I remembered advice from Dennis Chandler, Cleveland Rock icon and business advisor. A few years ago, as I was seeking to expand my career, he advised looking into the world of commercial writing. The kind of text provided in catalogs, brochures, ads and on the Internet. It was a field that I had never considered. My friend said with certainty that it would be an area worth investigation.
Again, I returned to our kitchen:

McCann’s Imported Quick & Easy Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal 16 oz. (454 g)

“Steel Cut Oats are a long standing tradition in Ireland where the rich soil and moist climate produce some of the finest oats in the world. One look tells you that Steel Cut Oats are different. The outer husk is removed from the oat kernel which is then cut into pieces using steel discs. That's it! (No steaming and rolling like conventional oats.) The result is a truly distinct flavor and texture that delivers the goodness of unprocessed 100% whole grain oats. We know you are in a hurry, so these oats blend state of the art technology with time honored tradition and need only 5 minutes to cook!”

Considering Chandler’s advice, I imagined writing such text for a living. The possibilities truly seemed endless. Descriptive prose could be created for bratwurst, hamburgers, even charcoal... the entire summer grilling experience. Or wander through the winter magic of hot cocoa, vegetable soup, and baked delights. Better still, I could go into the field of cars and motorcycles, always an area of interest. It seemed like a profession perfectly made for a wandering wordsmith.
I took one last package from the cupboard, and began to read:

Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Peanut Butter 10.5 oz. (300 g)

“BAMmmmmm! A toasty slow motion explosion of delicious real peanut butter. Go ever nuttier TRY Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty! Chocolate Peanut Butter. Naturally & artificially flavored.”

My snack-bag adventure proved that any venue can provide inspiration for a creative writer – even the humble, household kitchen.

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