1. Heroic, crime fighting fruits and vegetables
  2. Horrendous marketing failure

Usage Example: “Blueberries are a Superfood… Let’s eat them.”

Background: In 2003, Dr. Oz called a group of outcast fruits and vegetables to his secret lair, deep within a dormant volcano in Iceland. These fruits and vegetables were not incredibly popular, but in the mind of Dr. Oz, they possessed super powers. At this Superfood Summit, he commissioned the Superfoods to fight crime and defend truth and justice.

Each newly minted Superfood was issued a cape, mask and tights. They were then dispatched to the far corners of the earth. Among them were: blueberry, kale, spinach and broccoli.

Dr. Oz then began a global marketing campaign, spreading the word about this new group of Superfoods. From the outset, his campaign was a disaster. In a bizarre turn of events, instead of assisting the Superfoods in fighting evil, people decided to eat them. They even created entire diet plans composed primarily of Superfoods.

A dejected Dr. Oz returned to his volcano in defeat. After the Superfood disaster, he turned his efforts to finding a “miracle weight loss food”, which he found approximately 3,795 times.

Kiddie Pool

  1. Plastic backyard mosquito nursery
  2. Leaf catcher
  3. Insect execution method

Usage Example: “It’s been six days. Maybe I should drain the kiddie pool.”

Background: The molded plastic or vinyl kiddie pool is an icon of summer. On the first semi-warm days of the summer season, kids start begging their parents to drag out the pool. These pools are then taken out of storage, dusted off, and filled with water. At this point, kids proceed to play in the ankle-deep waters of the kiddie pool for a solid ten minutes before they move on to other summertime activities. These other activities include obtaining a head-to-toe covering of grass clippings upon leaving the pool, and continuously objecting to a state of boredom.

Figure 1 - A vinyl kiddie pool shortly after its first phase of life.

Figure 1 – A vinyl kiddie pool shortly after its first phase of life.

Immediately after the pool is vacated, it begins its second phase of life. In this phase, the pool morphs into a highly efficient mosquito hatchery, leaf catcher and insect execution machine.

Fun fact: at least half of the world’s known mosquitoes were born in kiddie pools. These pools are also extremely efficient leaf catchers. Even if a kiddie pool is placed far from the nearest tree, every leaf that falls within a half-mile radius of the pool will land in it. The kiddie pool is also a brutally efficient method of execution for dumb insects. One insect is executed by kiddie pool every 30 seconds.

The kiddie pool’s second phase of life ends after an average of five days. At this time, parents identify that the green waters of the leaf, dead bug and mosquito soup are no longer an acceptable place for children to sit and complain. At this time the pool is drained.

Tiny House

  1. A large dollhouse on a trailer
  2. Covert status symbol in the housing arms race

Usage Example: “People in big houses are so materialistic… I can’t wait to buy all of these specialized materials to build my tiny house. That will show everyone how non-materialistic I am.”

Background: In order to combat the perceived materialism found in the large American home, a group of men in skinny-jeans reacted in the only sane way possible: they built large dollhouses on trailers and wedged themselves into them.

The tiny house movement started booming after the mortgage crisis of 2008. This was a time in which people sought simpler ways of living. People wanted fewer material possessions, and desired to be tightly wrapped in building materials. They disdained the large American house as a wasteful status symbol, and embraced the tiny house as a fun-sized status symbol.

The tiny house movement represents the latest step in the time-honored American tradition of one-upping friends and family through better living arrangements. Americans have been engaging in this housing arms race since the 1950’s. As a result, the average American home continued to grow in size. This trend persisted until even the most creative mortgages couldn’t sustain any further growth. Left with few options, the tiny house pioneers decided to one-up the owners of the largest homes by declaring them “materialistic.” They then chose to move into homemade shoeboxes, in the ultimate show of one-upsmanship.

In essence, the tiny house advocates picked up the ball and went home… but when they got there, they couldn’t actually fit the ball in their homes, unless they folded up the stairs and desk first.

Lean Cuisine

  1. Low-fat frozen “meals” featuring approximately 6-8 bites of “food”
  2. Key step in the vending machine process

Usage Example: “I’m so excited! Someone stole my Lean Cuisine meal from the office refrigerator! Time to hit the drive-through.”

Background: Lean Cuisine meals are purchased with the best of intentions. Consumers are attracted by their low prices, healthy reputation, and the fact that their “Cooked White Meat Chicken” contains at least four ingredients.

Lean Cuisine meals are a popular lunch option at work. Eating a Lean Cuisine meal at work sends multiple non-verbal messages to coworkers:

  1. “I am trying to be healthy.”
  2. “I don’t really care what my food tastes like.”
  3. “I am perfectly fine with chicken that has the texture and taste of a sponge soaked in dishwater. Who am I to judge?”
  4. “I don’t need real grill marks on my “grilled” meat. I’m satisfied with these brown lines that were printed on the meat during the manufacturing process.”
  5. “In twenty minutes, I’ll be getting a Snickers from the vending machine.”

These non-verbal messages are being communicated during the “Lean Cuisine Cycle”. This cycle is a predictable and unforgiving process. It consists of the following steps:

  1. Decide to lose weight
  2. Purchase a Lean Cuisine Meal
  3. Reluctantly heat and consume a Lean Cuisine meal
  4. Endure gnawing hunger pains for approximately 15 minutes after finishing the Lean Cuisine meal
  5. Walk to the vending machine to purchase candy
  6. Consume candy
  7. Struggle with guilt over the candy purchase
  8. Resolve to not eat candy tomorrow
  9. (Go back to step 1 and repeat the cycle each and every day)

Bumper Sticker

  1. Analog tool for broadcasting a driver’s thoughts and opinions to a small group of followers
  2. Old-school Twitter for drivers

Usage Example: “I think I’ll vote for that political candidate. The bumper sticker on the car in front of me is displaying his name.”

Background:  Bumper stickers primarily exist for the following reasons:

  1. To display “Grateful Dead” logos
  2. To tell people to coexist
  3. To display the names of political candidates
  4. To communicate the possibility that a driver has allegedly completed a marathon
  5. To display three letters in an oval

Bumper stickers tend to travel in packs. They are rarely spotted alone. It also appears that the adhesive material on the back of bumper stickers clings best to the following vehicles: the Toyota Prius, any Volkswagen, Volvo station wagons, hatchbacks and fifteen passenger vans.

The concept behind the bumper sticker formed the foundation for the social media service “Twitter”. Twitter successfully created (and maintains) a digital bumper sticker service. Bumper stickers and Twitter both allow users communicate brief opinions to groups of followers.

It is also important to note, that while Twitter opinions are often absurd and completely ignored; bumper sticker messages are often absurd and completely ignored.

Fixer Upper

  1. HGTV program dedicated to advancing the cause of distressed furniture everywhere
  2. HGTV program with a hidden agenda to place huge clocks, old bottles/jars, rusty antiques, barn doors and distressed furniture into every house in America

Usage Example: “Did you see Fixer Upper last night? Chip and Joanna renovated an old Texas farmhouse. I love how they used distressed furniture, rusty antiques, barn doors, old bottles and jars, and enormous clocks.”

Background: Fixer Upper is a home renovation program on HGTV starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. Chip and Joanna renovate and decorate homes for their clients.

Joanna’s style is… a tad predictable. Viewers of Fixer Upper are encouraged to construct a bingo board with the following spaces:

  • Distressed Furniture – Distressed furniture is antique furniture that looks like it was dragged behind a pickup truck for 10 miles. Any well-painted antiques need to be heavily scuffed with sandpaper before they can be considered “distressed”. Chip and Joanna have been long-time supporters of the plight of distressed furniture:
  • Rusty Antiques – Beware. Chip and Joanna like placing rusty antiques in their renovations. Do you like riding bikes? You’ll probably end up with a rusty old bike hanging from your ceiling. If you enjoy working on large boats, do not hire Chip and Joanna Gaines.
  • Old Bottles and/or Jars
  • Enormous Clocks – Almost every renovation includes a huge clock somewhere.
  • Barn Doors – Barn doors are cool now. You should know that.
  • Chalkboards – Because… Chalkboards…
  • Huge Letters on the Wall
  • Window Boxes
  • Industrial Pot Faucet

While watching an episode of Fixer Upper, mark off each item that appears in a renovation. It’s an easy game. Everyone wins all the time.

Little Caesars Pizza

  1. Purveyor of $6.00 pepperoni pizza-like products for office parties and birthday parties alike
  2. Marketing geniuses behind the innovative slogan: “Pizza, Pizza!”

Usage Example: “I forgot to cook something for the office pot-luck lunch. Looks like I’ll be stopping at Little Caesars Pizza on my way to work.”

Background: Aristotle first made the statement: “If one only has six dollars, his pizza options are limited.”

That statement is true. If you only have six dollars, you can always take home a frozen pizza from the grocery store; but that option takes too much effort for most Americans.

Another option is to visit that place between the laundromat and the empty storefront on the other side of town: Little Caesars Pizza. If you have six dollars, Little Caesars has a “Warm-N-Adequate” pepperoni pizza waiting for you. Little Caesars is a long-time supplier of picnics, office parties, and kids’ birthday parties. Any situation that calls for a pizza that is “OK, I guess,” calls for Little Caesars.

Little Caesars gained their desperate following through innovative marketing campaigns. They pioneered the innovative catch-phrase “Pizza, Pizza!” – uttered just like Caesar himself would have said it. They also named their breadsticks “Crazy Bread” for how truly insane you’d have to be to order them.

It is also important to note that Little Caesars has begun offering a pizza with a “bacon wrapped crust.” So, not only do they want to help you fulfill your desire for cheap and adequate pizza, but they are also apparently attempting to kill you.

Cable Company

  1. Entertainment delivery company that provides customers with ten channels they want, 200 channels they don’t want, and internet service that kind-of works most of the time
  2. Entertainment delivery company that constantly tells customers that their calls are important to them, but no one actually believes that statement

Usage Example: “The cable company is giving us 32 Starz channels free for three months. If we forget to cancel, it will only cost an addition $250 per month.”

Background: For most cable customers, the journey begins with a desire to watch ESPN, the Food Network, HGTV, AMC or their favorite politically-affiliated cable news channel. Prospective customers then contact their local monopoly cable company, and a bizarre shopping experience ensues.

If groceries were purchased like cable, the sale would look like this:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy this milk.

Salesman: OK, great! We are currently running an incredible promotion! You get the milk, eggs, Slim Jims, Doritos, corn meal, multi-colored mini marshmallows, a Swiffer, and a gallon of peanut oil for only $30 per month for the first 12 months.

Customer: I really only want the milk.

Salesman: We can’t just sell you the milk. We are giving you a great opportunity to get so much more! And you’ll get all of these groceries every month for the duration of your two year contract!

Customer: But… I won’t use the other groceries. And, two years is a long time…

Salesman: We are also willing to throw in six extra-large bags of dog food, free for 3 months.

Customer: But I don’t have a dog. And what happens after 3 months?

Salesman: It’s only an additional $60 per month! When would you like your grocery service to begin?

Customer: Well, I really want the milk, so I guess I’ll sign up.

Salesman: Great! A delivery technician will hopefully bring the groceries to your house sometime between Wednesday at 8:00am and Next Tuesday at 3:00pm.

And, after that exchange, the cable experience begins. Customers are repeatedly told that their calls are important to the cable companies, and the harsh reality of cable quickly sets in: for every ESPN or HBO, there are at least twenty Oxygens.

Sweet Potato

  1. Starchy and slightly sweet root vegetable struggling with acute dessert envy
  2. Vegetable currently awaiting trial on multiple counts of sugar trafficking

Usage Example: “We just can’t have sweet potatoes without marshmallows and five pounds of sugar!”

Background: Desserts enjoy a special status in the dining experience. Everyone looks forward to dessert, and the sweet potato wants a piece of that action.

The sweet potato isn’t happy with its vegetable status. It sees itself as a boring, second-rate side dish. These self-image problems are what caused the sweet potato to begin its career as a sugar mule.

The sweet potato first sought to gain a piece of the pie market by jumping into a pie shell and smuggling some of that white powder with it. Large amounts of sugar are often found in desserts, so this move was largely overlooked. Sweet potato pie gained a small following, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy the sweet potato.

The sweet potato had loftier goals. It wanted to break through the wall that divides the main course and dessert. It studied the case of the cranberry – a tart fruit that successfully managed to smuggle large amounts of sugar into the main course as “cranberry sauce”. However, the scope of sweet potato’s plan was unprecedented. The sweet potato devised a scheme to preempt dessert, by offering dessert during the main course. Sweet potato planned to enter a casserole, smuggle in large amounts of brown sugar and cover itself in candy. Eventually, it convinced marshmallow to play the role of candy.

The job was complete. Sweet potato had smuggled dessert into the main course, and almost no one noticed. However, sweet potato was eventually caught, and is facing multiple charges in connection with its sugar trafficking.

If convicted, sweet potato could face 10 years of confinement as those nasty, unsalted sweet potato chips.

Android Applications

  1. Mobile software applications requiring access to all of a user’s data, possessions, hopes and dreams
  2. High-maintenance mobile software applications requiring updates and fixes approximately every eight seconds

Usage Example: “This Android app just asked for permission to search through my closets.”

Background: Using an Android phone is like having a terrible family road-trip in your pocket. All of your apps are constantly whining about something, and they simply will not stop.

Approximately every eight seconds, an Android app asks its owner a question. Here are some examples:

  • Calculator: “I have bugs, can I update myself?”
  • Facebook: “I noticed that you have some data on your phone that I can’t access yet… Please update me and give me access to it.”
  • Angry Birds: “Update me! I found a new way for your kids to spend your money by mistake!”
  • Google: “I have some cryptic problem that you wouldn’t understand… But it’s really important, so update me now!”
  • Facebook: “Hey – I see that you have some DMV records on your phone…Time to give ‘em up, pal!”
  • Android System: “Hey! I have an update. Time to take your phone offline and watch a spinning tesseract in the belly of a green robot for an hour and a half.”
  • Google Hindi Input: “I bet you didn’t even know I was here! Well, I need an update. You never know when you might make that trip to India.”
  • Facebook: “About your medical records…”