I am a human being conditioned to want extra. I’m hooked on it. Extra cream in my coffee? Extra cheese on my pizza? Extra pickles on my sandwich? Or the very apex of extra-ness, extra crispy fries? Yes, please! More, more, more. I mean, extra must be better than no extra, right?
Case in point, you can now buy “Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Flavor Blasted” with “an extra sprinkle of oomph.” Who wouldn’t want extra oomph? Or if you prefer your snack not resembling marine-life, buy “Cheez-It Extra Cheesy Cheese Crackers.” Not only will you get extra cheese, but cheesy-cheese. How extra is that? Personally, I never thought to describe cheese as cheesy, but you better believe me, the next time I’m in the supermarket I’ll be on the lookout for meaty meat, milky milk, and fishy fish. OK, maybe not that last one.
Let’s face it, I use extra virgin olive oil every day — without smirking. You’d think the “extra virgin” status came from some sovereign papacy, but no. It’s called extra virgin because it’s made from pure, first-pressed olives. Judged “preferred and of the highest quality,” I blanch at the inference. Number one, is there any such thing as more virgin? And number two, I feel bad for the un-pure olive that may have been pressed more than once. Let’s not shame the olive, people.
The Wrigley Company blew past any attempt at nuance and simply named their entire product “Extra.” You know, just in case us dumb-dumbs, namely me, missed the ultra-potential of their gum. But really, what do you expect from a company who came up with “Hubba Bubba?”
Hygiene products are another area rife with extras. Extra-fresh toothpaste, extra-body shampoo, and extra-strength lotion to name a few. I actually buy extra-smooth razors. Why select the “extra-rough” ones? That’d be like pooh-poohing extra-soft toilet paper for the cheap stuff, as if someone would want to sandpaper their privates.
After all, there are times when extra is eminently better, like “Double Stuf Oreos.” Why in heaven’s name do they even sell the regular ones? Oh, I know, my husband likes them. But he’s the kind of guy who considers half an apple dessert, so really, does his opinion count?
Sorry to inform you there’s no double the stuff in “Double Stuf.” According to a news-breaking, no-kidding, study, these supposedly twice-stuffed cookies contain only 1.86 times the creme as the original. A whopping 7 percent less than expected. Oh, the shame of it all. Perhaps to make amends, the company created “Mega Stuf Oreos” and “The Most Stuf Oreos.”
Even I, a connoisseur of extra, think that’s a filling too far. Besides, with all this “extra” business going on at Nabisco, you’d think they’d get some extra f’s so they could spell stuff correctly.
Appliances are also in on this extra craze. My dishwasher offers “Extra Heat,” my washing machine, “Extra Spin.” Absurdly, Maytag currently sells a washer with comically giant “Extra Power” button. Seriously, are our clothes dirtier today than 10 years ago? Besides, if I get that washer, I’ll have to buy their accompanying “Extra Power” dryer. How else to dry my extra-washed clothes?
All these extra options probably came from boardrooms where wheeler-dealers conspired to concoct more and more bells and whistles in order to sell more and more products. These marketing and design wizards know what they’re up to. Of course, I’m going to use the extra “A Bit More” button on my toaster. Later, I’ll chomp on my burnt toast not even noticing the ridiculousness of it all.
Even our own lovely state produces the finest, and my extra-favorite, extra-sharp cheddar. Do not ask me to give that up. It’s the cheesiest-cheesy-cheese there is.
Carole Vasta Folley is an award-winning columnist and playwright. More at carolevf.com.
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