Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Fast-food tray liners


Fresser
 Share

Recommended Posts

Mama Fresser and I really should start eating in better restaurants. Or at least ones that can punctuate.

We were sitting there, enjoying a breakfast nosh when the insidious advertisement caught my attention. At the tray liner bottom it read verbatim:

new Arch Card ™

load it. gift it. love it.

First of all, "gift" is NOT a verb. :angry: Grant it. Present it. Bestow it, if you want. But I'm sorry, pop-culture grammarians: "gift" is still a noun. So if McDonald's advertising wizards want to create a three-sentence parallel as a tagline, they should learn the parts of speech first.

But the atrocities continued. At the top of the liner, the ad copy read:

so, what is Arch Card ™?

Arch Card ™ is:

happy holidays

thank you for baby-sitting my kids...

i love you as a friend

grandpa's morning coffee

Notice that their copywriters NEVER capitalize the first word of a sentence. Hello--this is your fourth-grade English teacher calling! Nor do they capitalize the proper noun "Grandpa" in "grandpa's morning coffee" or the pronount "I" in "i love you as a friend." But they ALWAYS capitalize their trademarks, such as Arch Card ™ and of course their company name. Such sticklers they are.

What are they telling us? That THEIR trademarks are more important than grandparents and individuals?

Oooh...I was so steamed I could barely enjoy my hotcakes and Diet Coke ®.

Edited by Fresser (log)

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, "gift" is NOT a verb.  :angry:  Grant it.  Present it.  Bestow it, if you want.  But I'm sorry, pop-culture grammarians:  "gift" is still a noun.  So if McDonald's advertising wizards want to create a three-sentence parallel as a tagline, they should learn the parts of speech first.

The OED lists one definition of "gift" as "to bestow as a gift; make a present of." First usage 1619.

Not that I think McDonald's copywriters consult the OED.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the fine folks at the OED would be more interested in McD's new uses for words. McDs certainly field tests all of this ad nauseum so the fact that they are using these phrases is a fairly trustwothy sign of public acceptability. they're in the business of describing language use, not chastising 'misuse.'

About 'gift' as a verb, why not? we already have 're-gifting' as a popular phrase and activity. If you want to turn out blame, I think Seinfeld popularized that one.

as for the constant undercapitalization, i'm confident that is on purpose--with the new 'im' culture and teenagers wearing out their thumbs txting people, capitalization has certainly taken a back seat. People have become dependent on their computers to do their capitalizing for them--when there isn't a mechanism to fix their lazy typing, they hardly notice. Tis a sign of the times, my friends.

Edited by markovitch (log)

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is quality stuff, Fresser.

I wonder if the copy writer was impacted more by the poet e.e. cummings or the radical African-American feminist scholar, bell hooks?

Surely, the capitol letters will help McDonald's grow the economy real good.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, of course, it is a bit bizarre that a possessive form, "McDonald's," ends up as a proper noun in common usage.

It's been so long a part of our culture that I don't even know what "McDonald's" once modified, though I imagine I'd find the answer in Fast Food Nation.

One thing I'd like to know is if you follow the rules of Strunk & White or not.

Shouldn't that be "McDonald's's copywriters" above? :wink:

EBTMMVSCAMUOL

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great, another reason to avoid McD's like the plague that it is.

Hotscakes and Diet Coke (with or without the ®)? I don't recall Lisa and Olivah [sic] having soda with their hotscakes. Eb maybe.

Put me down as an Arch Enemy ™. And stop taking poor Mama Fresser there for breakfast. She's suffered enough, already.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, of course, it is a bit bizarre that a possessive form, "McDonald's," ends up as a proper noun in common usage.

It's been so long a part of our culture that I don't even know what "McDonald's" once modified, though I imagine I'd find the answer in Fast Food Nation.

"Famous hamburgers"

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Language is a work in progress. There are plenty of words that came into existance simply because of incorrect use -- but were later accepted as proper. Maybe McD is just on the liguistic cutting edge? :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I get bent over stuff like this too, but we have to remember that language (like cuisine!) is a living breathing thing.

Edited because I'm apparently operating with only half a brain today!

Edited by bavila (log)

Bridget Avila

My Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, language definitely evolves--but it's one thing to have it evolve organically through usage by just plain folks, and another to have it yanked about by marketeers and ad copywriters.

And yeah, I know some will argue that the marketeers and ad writers are supposely simply mirroring the language of the culture so that their target demographic can relate to their advertising ... but I would humbly beg to differ with that argument.

You see, I put in a (mercifully brief) stint as a marketing writer for a high tech company in the 1980s. There, I learned all sorts of interesting things about the gentle art of writing "prose" for ads from the corporate marketing department's chief guru. He was an old ad-agency hand, himself quite literate and erudite, wise enough to view his whole career with a certain irony--because he knew better than to let any of his erudition influence the style of his very effective ad copy.

From him I learned that there's a whole peculiar art to writing ad copy, an art that has absolutely nothing to do with Strunk and White, and everything to do with trying to snag the viewer's attention and implant an overall impression in the few brief seconds spent glancing at the ad. To catch those wandering eyeballs and implant the desired message is the one and only Mission--proper grammar, or proper anything else for that matter, be damned. Sentence fragments, neologisms, "verbing" nouns--anything went if it supported The Mission. In fact, sentence fragments seemed to work *better* than complete grammatical sentences, in that the viewer could scan and assimilate them quickly, like that other often-abused mutation of the English language, the bullet list.

I think if I had suggested correcting a hunk of copy to use complete grammatical sentences, our marketing guru would have smiled indulgently at me, patted me on my then 20-something head, and counseled me not to be so idealistic if I wanted to last in that field. Erm, as you can tell from my current often-verbose style, obviously I didn't. :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you mean by that?

Its a long time since I did any linguistics, but as I understand it, one of the tests people who study linguistics use as to whether some new construct is in the language is whether it is understandable by someone who hears or speaks the language as a native, that is from birth, the "native speaker hearer". Utterances can be grammatically correct but semantically wrong (the famous example is "colourless green ideas sleep furiously") or even grammatically and semantically correct but pragmatically wrong "he married his widows sister".

Thus "gift it" may not be traditional, but can be considered as English since most users of English will understand what it means more or less, even if grammatically wrong. I assume it means give it, However the message as a whole "the new Arch card, load it, gift it, love it" is incomprehensible to me, a native English speaker-hearer, and I suspect many others. It is therefore written in a language other than English.

The Arch card is, I suppose something one can "load, give and love", but that is a poor definition of what this apparently new thing might be. It leads me to think it may be a cuddly toy give away, or something similar, although why one would want to load it, and what with is unclear. Maybe its a cuddly toy that can be used to keep the food hot, hence "load it" refers to the food. It may be semantically incorrect as well.

As for the second part "Arch card is: happy holidays thankyou for baby-sitting my kids." I again find it incomprehensible. Let me assume there is a comma missing between holidays and thankyou, so that the colon introduces a list in the conventional sense. Thus written out it would say "Arch card is both happy holidays and thankyou for babysitting my kids". I think this is semantically (and pragmatically) incorrect, since the types do not agree - Arch card presumeably being an object and "happy Holidays" and "Thankyou" ideas. Are they trying to say "The Arch card conveys the ideas of both Happy Holidays and Thankyou (etc)", which may make some sense, but I would have thought that the market for greeting cards for baby sitters at holiday time was limited.

Pedantic? Geeky? Me? Yes but no but...

Edited by jackal10 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Jack. I appreciate all of that, most of which I agree with, though one shouldn't discount the power of a well-funded marketing campaign to engender enough repetition to force new meaning into the language. I suspect this happens more in the US than the UK (again, divided by a common language).

But I was actually making a cheap (and admittedly off-topic) joke. So, if you don't mind my saying it, my bad?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, time for another scribbler for hire and member of Fresser's fraternity to chime in.

Oh, yes, I had trouble with "gift it" -- even as the present imperfect verb "regifting" spreads throughout the language, this back-formation from the latter neologism is unnecessary. "Give it" is equally punchy and gramatically correct to boot. (I have less of a problem with "regifting," as this new term describes a phenomenon that existing terms cannot quite describe accurately: the practice of taking a gift one receives but either does not like or cannot use and turning around and giving it to someone else.)

But I did not have trouble with understanding the phrase "load it. gift it. love it." as English, perhaps because I've been exposed to so much advertising copy over the years. (Ad copy is really a breed apart from ordinary written English.) The previous phrase -- "the new Arch Card" -- gave me the context in which to decipher the imperative sentences that followed.

Gift cards have become big business as Americans increasingly neither want to take the time to figure out just what sort of gift might please a loved one nor want to risk disappointment at the hands of a well-meaning giver who chooses an unwanted or undesirable present. (Any sense of dismay you may pick up from the foregoing sentence is there by design.) And for businesses that offer products that don't easily lend themselves to gift-wrapping, like restaurants, the gift cards are an easy way to grab a bigger share of the gift market. (I for one would love to receive a gift card from a really good restaurant as a present from a friend or relative. But please, no Arch Cards.)

These cards work like debit cards or prepaid phone cards: you pay money and a card of equal value is issued. This transaction is often referred to as "loading" the card with money. So unlike that sentence about colorless, sleeping green ideas, the phrase "load it. gift it. love it." made semantic sense to me, even if it was a grammatical abomination.

Now that I've driven this topic into the ground, who wants to tackle "I could care less"?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Notice that their copywriters NEVER capitalize the first word of a sentence.  Hello--this is your fourth-grade English teacher calling!  Nor do they capitalize the proper noun "Grandpa" in "grandpa's morning coffee" or the pronount "I" in "i love you as a friend."  But they ALWAYS capitalize their trademarks, such as Arch Card ™ and of course their company name.  Such sticklers they are.

What are they telling us?  That THEIR trademarks are more important than grandparents and individuals? 

Oooh...I was so steamed I could barely enjoy my hotcakes and Diet Coke ®.

i was going to say something about e.e. cummings until you pointed out that thing about the trademark being capitalized

however i notice that you haven't even touched on the punctuation in that ad copy

and how did you manage to launch this thread twice?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arch Card ™ is:    

                      i love you as a friend ...

                        

The Arch Card -- the new official card of being dumped.

:huh:

Anniversary guide:

1st anniversary: Gift certificate for a night out at the club where the two of you first danced

5th anniversary: Dinner at that nice little trattoria down the street from the club

10th anniversary: A dinner cruise on the river or in the harbor

25th anniversary: Dinner at Le Bec-Fin or its equivalent where you live

Partner leaves you for some cute young thing: Arch Card

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I've driven this topic into the ground, who wants to tackle "I could care less"?

What wrong with that one?

"I could care less...but I don't."

:biggrin:

Now if you want to get into those dreadful spelling errors (which are not just spelling errors, but become semantic errors because of the spelling errors), then we can have a conversation!

For example, "I need to loose 10 pounds," "Let me give you some advise," etc. My skin is crawling just typing those!

And "irregardless"...how can people who purport to be writers use a word like that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What are they telling us?  That THEIR trademarks are more important than grandparents and individuals? 

For their lawyers, yes. It's not really their trademark unless they always show it in its proper form. Also, 'grandpa' is a generic noun, not a proper noun, not always capped.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I've driven this topic into the ground, who wants to tackle "I could care less"?

I'll add: "the well fed pig went missing". I swear I never heard 'went missing' until a few years ago. Or was I just overly protected?

And if you take the word 'absolutely' out of the english language several newscasters/reporters would become mute.

I don't want an Arch card, but I'll take one from Sur La Table! Thanks!

by the way, great writing guys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I've driven this topic into the ground, who wants to tackle "I could care less"?

What wrong with that one?

"I could care less...but I don't."

:biggrin:

Well, when you put it that way, the misstatement takes on an almost Seinfeldian quality.

But I don't think most of the people who say "I could care less" when they mean "I couldn't care less" are that sophisticated or have such a finely developed sense of sarcasm.

Now if you want to get into those dreadful spelling errors (which are not just spelling errors, but become semantic errors because of the spelling errors), then we can have a conversation!

For example, "I need to loose 10 pounds," "Let me give you some advise," etc.  My skin is crawling just typing those!

And "irregardless"...how can people who purport to be writers use a word like that?

Bringing this back to food, once I've caught those 10 pounds that are running loose out there (they might hurt someone):

What about ineptly used foreign phrases?

I still remember a wonderful passage in Edwin Newman's book "Strictly Speaking" where he skewered a bit of malaprop restaurant prose as follows:

"'French Dip: Aged prime roast beef, dipped in au jus.' And wheeled in, we suppose, on an a la carte."

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The use of the word "gift" in this way is a purposeful use of inference that extends the concept of "giving" into something that has a higher purpose that reflects back onto the person doing the action in a way that adds two points to their self esteem.

Not that it really matters - for in reality, it is still McDonalds.

But the personal pat on the back is sensed for having "gifted" (you know, as in when universities have "gifts" given to them for their higher purposes of education by their alumni or anyone else hungry to see their last name engraved on a building for posterity).

Yes - one's own personal piece of McDonalds. Not simply given you know. . .but by god, it has been "gifted". How incredibly important one can be with their four dollars or so.

Is this equality of sorts for the masses?

.......................................................................

As far as "I could care less" that has confused me for years, as have several other double negative statements that float around in common use. It is troublesome for how can one have a normal conversation when someone comes out with one of these statements - personally my mind sticks at the statement and ponders it endlessly, wondering what on earth they really mean to say while on and on the conversation goes without any attention being given to it by my confused brain.

Here's another one: In New York, I clearly understand what "Let's do lunch sometime" means. I've even said it myself.

What I've NEVER been able to clearly understand (as a transplanted Northerner) is what on earth "You come on by and visit me sometime" means when said by a native Southerner. They seem to mean it. Indeed they keep repeating it.

Does this really mean they want you to visit? Does it really mean "Drive up the road ten miles to my house and knock on my door anytime at all with a fresh baked cake and we'll sit down and shell beans or something"?

Or is it a convoluted form of what a New Yorker says but longer and with a bigger smile?

Please advise if you are privy to this information.

To date, I have only smiled stupidly in response and said "Yes, you too now". Then went off to ponder what it meant, for eternity as of yet.

Gift me with this knowledge if you have it, native speaker?

Merci.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The use of the word "gift" in this way is a purposeful use of inference that extends the concept of "giving" into something that has a higher purpose that reflects back onto the person doing the action in a way that adds two points to their self esteem.

Not that it really matters - for in reality, it is still McDonalds.

But the personal pat on the back is sensed for having "gifted" (you know, as in when universities have "gifts" given to them for their higher purposes of education by their alumni or anyone else hungry to see their last name engraved on a building for posterity).

Yes - one's own personal piece of McDonalds. Not simply given you know. . .but by god, it has been "gifted". How incredibly important one can be with their four dollars or so.

Is this equality of sorts for the masses?

.......................................................................

As far as "I could care less" that has confused me for years, as have several other double negative statements that float around in common use. It is troublesome for how can one have a normal conversation when someone comes out with one of these statements - personally my mind sticks at the statement and ponders it endlessly, wondering what on earth they really mean to say while on and on the conversation goes without any attention being given to it by my confused brain.

Here's another one: In New York, I clearly understand what "Let's do lunch sometime" means. I've even said it myself.

What I've NEVER been able to clearly understand (as a transplanted Northerner) is what on earth "You come on by and visit me sometime" means when said by a native Southerner. They seem to mean it. Indeed they keep repeating it.

Does this really mean they want you to visit? Does it really mean "Drive up the road ten miles to my house and knock on my door anytime at all with a fresh baked cake and we'll sit down and shell beans or something"?

Or is it a convoluted form of what a New Yorker says but longer and with a bigger smile?

Please advise if you are privy to this information.

To date, I have only smiled stupidly in response and said "Yes, you too now". Then went off to ponder what it meant, for eternity as of yet.

Gift me with this knowledge if you have it, native speaker?

Merci.

If the person inviting is an old friend of your parents, or is the parent of an old friend of yours, then yes. They mean come down to the house, sit a little, visit and tell all the gossip you know. I have ended up shelling peas. I've also shelled pecans and cleaned crabs. You just dive right in.

If the person doing the inviting is a contemporary of yours, say, a friend from work, they mean it too.

They just want you to call first.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...