The spice of life, A to Z
Let’s pour another cup of coffee, sit back, and resolve this most-pressing issue of human behavior: Why don’t more people keep their spice racks in alphabetical order?
The reasons for doing so are compelling.
The hours lost in searching for that can of paprika that you knew you saw just a couple of years ago could be devoted instead to careful monitoring of spring storms on The Weather Channel.
The annoyance you feel in your failure to find the bay leaves is entirely unnecessary and stands between you and everlasting bliss.
Visiting friends and relatives would be impressed whenever they went searching for cinnamon, and they might overlook some of your other personal failings.
So why don’t more people keep their spice rack in alphabetical order?
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Minneapolis – it’s a rogue, break-away institution – polled 4,786 kitchen owners on the issue and discovered these reasons for chaos in the spice cabinet:
— It takes too long to get the cans into alphabetical order. Each can needs to be taken out of the cabinet and placed back into the cabinet. That’s hard work.
— Alphabetical order is an easy concept until it’s time to do two-letter alphabetization. What’s the alphabetical relationship of curry, chives, cinnamon, cumin and chili powder? Who, other than a librarian, wants to devote a weekend to working through this question?
— It’s hard to put cans back into the proper place once they’ve been used. While the replacement of one can is fairly easy – look for blank spot, insert spice can – the replacement of two or more cans requires consideration of the name of the spice, review of the names of the spices next to the vacancies in the spice cabinet and selection of the proper location. In today’s busy two-income households, that’s asking quite a bit.
So, to review, we have a situation in which the merits of alphabetized spice cabinets are understood, but the investment in labor and time appears daunting. Do you see the opportunity for some nimble, savvy entrepreneur?
The way I see it, there’s a great demand in this country for a force of well-groomed spice cabinet professionals. In teams of three or four, they’d descend upon a client’s home. They’d leave the client with a fully alphabetized spice cabinet. They’d even be willing to alphabetize in 11 foreign languages, translating spice names as appropriate.
But their commitment to client satisfaction wouldn’t stop there. Specially trained spice-cabinet maintenance specialists would stand ready to visit clients’ homes. Whenever a spice can was removed for use, one of these specialists would have the skill to replace it correctly.
Once again, the free market makes America great!
John Seelmeyer is editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturday.
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