August 16, 2006
Kit-Kat Survive If No One Hears It Scream?
five-year-old T.F. Krause accompanies me to the supermarket, I can count
on one thing. We will not get from the back of the checkout lane to the
cashier without, “Daddy? Can I get chocolate?”
have to understand what “chocolate” means. Snickers? No. A 100 Grand
bar? Please. Twix? Take your cookie crunch and get out of my life!
Hershey bar. That’s it. Fifteen little rectangles of pure milk chocolate
pasted together and enclosed in a shiny brown wrapper. That’s chocolate.
And it’s always sitting there in the checkout lane, calling young T.F.’s
name in a voice that only he can hear. Mrs. Krause would prefer that I
limit the chocolate purchases, but the path of least resistance is to
fish for the additional 75 cents and try to persuade him to eat the
whole thing in the car before we get home. This gets complicated in the
summer, when it’s just as likely to end up melted all over the gearshift
as in his stomach.
But as long
as we go through the checkout lane, the Checkout Chocolate Moment is
are well aware of this. So are the people who make all the other sweet,
chocolate, sticky and crunchy treats that shout your name while the
person in front of you is loading up the conveyor with laundry detergent
and heads of lettuce.
to buy that much cantaloupe?” shouts the Bubble Yum. “You deserve a treat for having to wait
Kats weigh in.
doesn’t remember the PIN for his debit card! This could take awhile! You
know what that means.”
four Kit Kats. It works every time.
Or it used
to work every time, until a new grocery shopping concept that has the
makers of all the talking snacks approaching a panic. Welcome to the
U-scan lane. No snacks. No help, either, but who needs help when you’re
armed with bar codes, various payment methods and places to go?
past couple years, U-scan lanes have quickly evolved from a curiosity to
the preferred method of cashing out for a significant percentage of
shoppers – especially those making a limited number of purchases. And in
reality, you can’t exactly say the U-scan lanes offer no help. Every
time I scan an item, a helpful voice instructs me: “Please place the
item in the bag.”
you! Because I was really thinking of putting it in the trash can until
you said that. One time, I set the item on top of the display panel just
to see if the voice would know the difference. I don’t think it did, but
we’re still in the era of U-scan Beta 1.0. By this time next year, the
darn thing will probably grab me by the scruff of my neck and stick the
bag over my head if I try that.
all, when you’re going through the U-scan lane, it doesn’t even occur to
my son to ask me for chocolate. He can’t hear the little voice calling
to him. Out of sight, out of mind. Scan it, bag it and go.
a problem for the confectioners, mint-makers and nut packagers of
America. A huge percentage of their sales occur in the form of impulse
buys in checkout lanes, and they’re already reporting an impact.
it’s a problem for them, just imagine the trouble the Weekly World
News is in for. My interest in Bill Clinton’s dealings with aliens
rises exponentially when I’m standing around waiting for some old lady
to fit her Depends between the prune juice and the Doan’s Pills. That
doesn’t mean I would actually buy the darn thing, but what will
happen to WWN and others of its ilk when no one even stops to
sure the impulse-buy purveyors will think of something. There are always
people waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. On a
Saturday, you can wait two hours to ride certain roller coasters.
Imagine all the junk food and yellow journalism you could sell there.
grateful that the U-scan lane is helping to reduce the volume of melted
chocolate in my car. My son is healthier and I get in less trouble with
Mrs. Krause. But I know those little voices will find other
opportunities to cry out to young T.F. – and that it’s only a matter of
time before they find new ways to make my hands dirty.
© 2006 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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