So why do we save bread-ties?
Mankind is a rational species, you say, and you’d modestly admit at the end of a long dinner party that you’re a heck of a lot more rational than most.
How, then, do you explain that plastic bag in your kitchen filled with bread-ties and assorted other twistie-thingies?
A U.S. Department of Commerce study in the late 1990s reported that the average American household owns 148 plastic bread-ties and twistie-thingies. Most experts believe the number continued to increase since that study was completed, perhaps as a result of the Federal Reserve’s recent actions to lower interest rates. Or something.
While the number of bread-ties and twistie-thingies owned by the average American household is modestly interesting, the larger question is this: Why?
Watch yourself. You open a new box of plastic kitchen trash-can liners. You carefully take out the sheet of twistie-thingies and put them in that drawer in the kitchen. When it comes time to take out the trash, do you use one of the twistie-thingies? Nah, you just sort of tie a knot in the bag and toss it in the trash.
You are a rational person. So why do you persist in saving twistie-thingies that you know you’ll never use?
Some researchers suggest that this is the answer: You are cheap. You believe that twistie-thingies have value – for what, no one knows – and you’re saving them because you can’t bear to part with something that you got for free.
Other psychological researchers suggest that you save twistie-thingies because you think you’ll need them someday. In this case, like so many others, psychological researchers are having a hearty laugh at your expense.
Tragic as we may find the twistie-thingie situation in this country, it pales in comparison with the bread-tie problem.
The baking industry knows that the typical American household includes one person who occasionally returns the plastic tab that keeps the bread wrap closed. The other members of the typical American household are content to fold the wrap under the bread, put it back on top of the refrigerator, then complain when the bread dries out in a couple of days.
Apparently, an industry spokeswoman said, the member of the household who occasionally uses the plastic bread-tie finds them on the countertop and puts them in the plastic bag along with the twistie-thingies.
But again, the question remains: Why? There are no known secondary uses for bread-ties, and it’s very rare indeed that a flawed loaf of bread arrives without a tie of its own. Why, then, do perfectly rational people save bread-ties by the hundred?
You’re a rational person. There must be a rational answer to this.
John Seelmeyer is editor of The Union, and his column appears on Saturday.
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