Friday, February 11, 2011

The World Is on the Brink, but What I Really Want to Talk About Is Mini-Moo's

I'm an optimistic guy. I have always thought things would go my way. I think that way about the world, too. Yes, we're going through a period of smallish world leaders pretty much across the board and evil philosophies held by evil men, but I'm thinking that in the mid-run things will be OK if people of goodwill apply their good brains to matters of public importance and let their voices be heard.

But some stuff is definitely getting worse.

Thing is, they are things that should be getting better.

I've already written about the appalling deterioration of AOL Mail with each successive version, which has caused that trailblazing service to plummet into almost complete uselessness.

But what has come closest of all to destroying my faith in the entire Universe is . . . Mini-Moo's.

But even before I tell you how this product has sent me into a descending spiral of Weltschmerz, we must deal with its name, which, as you can see, is a singular possessive: "Mini-Moo's." It designates something that belongs to Mini-Moo -- or is it "a" Mini-Moo? This in itself does not make it a bad name for a product. (Think "McDonald's.") But it leaves us with the issue of how to comfortably refer to the singular and plural of this product. I've researched this.  Some people would form the plural "Mini-Moo'ses," some would say "Mini-Moos," and some would treat the word as an invariant, like "sheep," with the plural the same as the singular. I vote for that one. But it would be better if the manufacturer had just called the product "Mini-Moo." But between you and me, "Mini Moo's" will be treated as both singular and plural. If, heaven forbid, I have to use it as a possessive, I will form it: "Mini-Moos'." 

And there's another problem for the careful writer:  Sometimes it has a hyphen, sometimes it doesn't -- see the photos below.   And its manufacturer, Land O Lakes?  Sometimes it appears as "Land O' Lakes," with the apostrophe indicating that it's a contraction of "of," and sometimes without.  Sheesh.

Mini-Moo's are little containers of half-and-half for use in coffee and other drinks.  They are little corrugated plastic cups covered with foil that is sealed around the rim of the cup.  As noted, they are made by the good people at Land O Lakes, who put that rather fetching Native American princess on all of their products.  Don't ask me why they don't have to be refrigerated.  (I know why, just don't ask me.)  You have seen them in 7-11's and other places where you can grab a quick cup of coffee (my own workplace favors the Mini-Moo's):

Perfectly fine product.  Excellent product, in fact.   Its major competitor, the famous Coffee-mate, is OK, I guess, but it's not half-and-half -- it's "non-dairy."

Now I know most of you have used one of these products or something like it.   When the item is produced, the manufacturer leaves the adhesive off a fair portion of the foil that covers that little tab.  You tease at it,  the foil on the end of the tab lifts a little, you seize the newly-liberated foil tab and pull toward the cup.  The foil top easily peels off and you can then pour that fine concoction into your drink.   The image on a box of these items portrays -- rather more dramatically than it happens in reality -- a successful peel-back and pour:

I have been using Mini-Moo's for years.  I cannot number the consecutive successful peel-and-pours I have executed. 

Until the last several months. 

One day I was preparing my morning coffee at 7-11.  Picked up a Mini-Moo's.  As I had done thousands of times, I held the cup between the thumb and index finger of my left hand.  With the thumb on my right hand, I scraped it lightly against the tip of that little tab, which usually lifts the unattached foil away from the plastic, and, with the thumb still moving, I prepared to bring the index finger of my right hand forward to grasp the little loose foil tab to complete the peelback.

Except that this time, the foil did not separate from the plastic.  It had been glued down all the way down to the tip of the tab. 

I tried it one more time.  Nothing.  Tried to stick a fingernail in to pop that little foil tab off the plastic.  No. 

Threw that one away.  Undoubtedly an outlier.   Possibly rare.  Maybe worth some money, like a misstamped coin.  Began to be sorry I threw it away.

Picked up another one.  Stunned to discover it suffered from the same defect.

After one or two more, I was able to select one that was more conventionally glued, and was only happy that my coffee had not unacceptably cooled in the meantime.

Since then, I have encountered many many Mini-Moo's that are almost impossible to open because the peel-back foil tab is glued all the way down to the end of that little sticking-out tongue. 

One might think this was a conscious decision on the part of the Land O Lakes people.  Perhaps  .  .  .  I don't know, product security?  Except that not all Mini-Moo's suffer from this inability to actually get at the product.  If you grub around in the bowl of cuplets long enough you can find one that's sealed like they all used to be.

No, this is a factory issue.  Either Land O Lakes has some new machinery that slathers on too much fastening stickum, or the quality assurance function at LOL (!) has suffered some unfortunate turnover.

It may seem like a small thing, those little gold-foil cups of half-and-half serially resisting my efforts to get at their creamy nectar. 

But what I want to know is:  If, in this marvelous world of ours where we witness the blessings of progress day after day and year after year, does the decline in the quality of Mini-Moo's after being so good for so long represent some kind of cosmic signal that we have gone as far as we can go?  That it's all downhill from here?  

Or  .  .  .  that I'm just wrong about the fundamental nature of reality?

And that there is, in fact, no chance at all that we can repeal Obamacare?


  1. I'm laughing out loud at this - makes me giggle. Well written. Especially the part about the throw away being worth money. The times we live in...I tell ya. What's next?

  2. Big Chief win-'em-allFebruary 11, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Silly boy - "Mini-Moo" is obviously the name of the fetching young maiden (think "Minehaha"), so "Mini-Moo's" is the possessive form of her name, indicating that it is her brand of Half and half. Problem solved.

    Bet you never even noticed that if you razor off the butter box she holds over her chest and hold the opening over another image of her knees, you get another clue why it might indeed be Mini-moo's half and half.

    Sorry about your sticky tops, though.

  3. Chief, that is an interesting theory about the name. It seems unlikely to me that the product's name has anything to do with the princess's natural gifts, seeing as how she adorns a wide variety of Land O Lakes products that do not have reference to cows.

    And yes, I've seen those sites that demonstrate how to make her image appear to be caressing an alluring pair. This even has a name. It's called the "Indian butter trick," and it's been around for decades.

    In fact, if you go to Google and type in "land o lakes indian" Google will obligingly finish it for you as "land o lakes indian girl trick."

    For the record, I disapprove of this and urge you not to try it.

  4. Would it help if I could get you a free or cheap version of Quicken? :) I gotta stand up for Intuit here, as you can understand. I'm sure that there's some fancy new button to do what it is you're wanting to do, but knowing nothing about that specific product, I'm not much help ;/

  5. Was just noticing the whole possessive spelling this morning, and I was so relieved to discover that I'm not the only nutter who has started contemplating the grammatical and other ramifications of this.