Bronto Size Me




Even 11-year-olds know the new foodspeak.

Recently a friend asked me to join her for a cup of coffee. We were catching up while moving with the line at the counter when suddenly, mid-conversation, she turned to the coffee-loompa and rambled off a half-dozen words that sounded like Dr. Seuss gibberish. The gibberish was repeated by two more of the coffee-loompas down the bean assembly line and then the General Loompa turned her attention to me.

"And for you sir?"

"Just a small cup of coffee, thanks."

Suddenly, the coffee assembly line came to a screeching halt. All the coffee-loompas simultaneously gave me a brief but deliberate stink-eye. I didn't understand why until my friend explained, "They don't like it when you don't order in their language."

She was right. I am from New Hampshire, where the proper way to say "I'd like a cup of coffee, please" is "I'd like a cup of coffee, please." I don't speak this strange dialect of Seattle Coffee. They never taught it in my school and I don't believe there are Rosetta Stone tapes available.

Later that day I was in the company of another young lady, my niece Julia, and we visited an ice cream parlor for a treat. As she placed her order, it happened again. Someone who I know that lives in New Hampshire, and I know only speaks English, began speaking words foreign to me to place a simple order at a take-out counter.

I wasn't going to be embarrassed again, so I asked an 11-year-old girl to help me order ice cream.

"The sizes, Uncle Jimmy, are Like it, Love it and Gotta Have it," she explained.

When did this happen? When did it become the socially acceptable norm for franchises to rename "small," "medium" and "large"? And are you not as concerned as I am that 11-year-old children are now speaking "Starbucks" and "Cold Stone" better, and more passionately, than they are speaking English?

I blame the sandwich folks for starting this nonsense with the five-dollar foot-long but at least their size language makes some sense to me. It's a literal translation that size-wise can be fairly easily quantified. Like when you order prime rib and the waiter asks if you'd like the "King's cut" or the "Queen's." And it's a great piece of up-sell marketing because no self respecting man is going to order a "six-inch" when there is a "foot-long" available or a "Queen's cut" when one can get a "King's."

But a large ice cream is a "Gotta Have it!"? Gotta have what? Diabetes? Obesity? CC Sabathia's pant size?

And a "Venti" is a large coffee? Isn't it also the new Toyota mini-van?

Is this "branding of size" the future?

"Hello, Pizza Guy. Yes I'd like to order a pepperoni pie ... What size?... Lazy Husband .... Delivery, please."

"I'll take a bottle of tequila, please ... No, the one on the right ... the 'She Just Left.'"

"Fried Clams ... Can't Afford It."

Can we please go back to small, medium and large for our units of measure? We are wasting way too many lawyer-hours at the USPTO putting little TMs and Rs next to make-believe units of measure. Valuable time that should be used to protect Charlie Sheen lingo from Jimmy Buffett piracy. NH

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