Food marketing for the subconscious

There’s this grocery store I love. I go there practically every day, some days more than once. I love the wide aisles, the civilized atmosphere, the deli section that caters so comprehensively to people who are no good in the kitchen.

But lately I think the store is trying to drive me crazy. Into every shopping trip, it’s injecting little asides. Aphorisms. Injunctions. I’m beginning to think I’m hearing voices.

Hey … over here!

This is part of some kind of marketing strategy. On the placards that advertise on-sale items – and I love the on-sale items – slogans have begun to appear.

Game on.

C’mon, grab one more.

The messages are unobtrusive, almost subliminal. They are printed in a font that imitates a human hand, and their punctuation is informal at best. Sometimes they appear all in lower case, as if grabbed from the middle of a sentence.

check this out

They are not talking to me. I understand they are not talking to me. But sometimes, just every once in a while, they seem to contain a hidden meaning that only I will catch. Like the Satanic Bobblehead on that episode of “The Twilight Zone,” the sale signs seem to know my fears and anxieties.

To name one: At this stage in my life I don’t need to be developing a taste for half & half. I’ve drunk my coffee black and tough for decades. There’s no reason to start adding cream to my cart now. But last evening I went to get some. I felt like celebrating. And lo, the half & half was on sale:

Oh, really?

The sign was mocking me, just as the Satan Bobblehead mocked William Shatner.

Shake it off, I thought. Just get some dinner and head for home. Near the checkout, salsa was on sale. I moved closer to read the message on the sign.

The icing on the cake!

What could that possibly mean? How could salsa be icing on a cake?

I bought my groceries and headed home. But like the Satan Bobblehead, the signs are luring me back. I want to go see if the cake icing is on sale.

And if so, whether it has a message for me.

I’m fighting it.

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