23 May 2008

Concerning the Labeling of Milk Jug Lids

I am currently employed as a barista at a locally owned coffee company. We go through a lot of milk in the course of a day, especially a lot of whole milk. Recently, I have noticed that our milk providers are intent on insulting us in one way or another through the seemingly innocuous presence of labels on the milk jug lids.

The skim and whole milk have different colored labels and lids. This is helpful, considering that we are often hastily pulling out jugs of milk to fill orders, and being able to recognize color is easier than reading each label. Also, the skim milk jug has the word "SKIM" printed on the top of its purple lid. This is okay, I think, because it effectively describes the contents and differentiates it from other sorts of milk.

This is not the case with the whole milk. In fact, the milk company we buy from can't decide what they'd rather print on the whole milk lids, so there are two different ones. What I find confusing is that the two options that they apparently can't choose between are both insulting.

The first time I noticed this, I was steaming whole milk for a latte, and needed a little extra to top off the steaming pot. Upon opening a new milk jug, I noticed the label on the lid: it said "HOMO." Presumably, this stands for "homogenized," which isn't terribly helpful because most of our milk (whether skim, 1%, 2%, or whole) has been homogenized. (Check out the selection at your local grocery store.) My initial reaction, however, was: "Can't we get some politically correct milk around here?" I'd hate for the customers to feel that our milk lid is calling them such names!

The second label option is better upon first inspection. It simply reads, "MILK." But if you think about it, how helpful is that?! We know it's MILK!!! It's obviously milk. Are they assuming that we need help identifying this as milk?! (Perhaps this is a label to help non-English speakers?) Like the "HOMO" label, this is unhelpful since it doesn't differentiate this milk from other sorts of milk, and it also assumes a very low level of intelligence on the part of the consumer.

I have a theory about why this happens: this particular milk provider puts labels on the lids of their various milk products. Due to the size of the bold, all caps font on the small lid, the label is limited to no more than 4 letters. So, the skim milk simply has the label "SKIM." However, the labels-on-the-lids policy ran into some trouble with the whole milk. Clearly, the best descriptor would be "WHOLE." This word, unfortunately, is one letter too long for the 4-letter standard. So, the milk company was stuck with two rather bad options, which they can't seem to choose between: HOMO and MILK.

My verdict is that they might as well use even more colorful four letter words since their two options are already insulting.


Carol Van Atta, Princess Warrior said...

Too funny! I never knew milk was so "colorful." Blessings, Carol

Caryn said...

You make me laugh, darling Kelli! I just love you!