Monday, April 30, 2007

No more porkies

Last November I pointed out a piece of nonsensical bureacracy in Wales, when a sausage producer was told he couldn't call his products 'dragon sausages' because they didn't contain any dragons. Well, the Trading Standards Agency has done it again! Val Temple runs a bakery in Dorset and for 18 years she has been selling novelty pastries, decorated with sugar pigs, frogs and robins and she calls them 'pig tarts' and 'frog tarts' and 'robin tarts'. She also sells a special cake that she calls 'Paradise cake.' Any problems so far? Have you guessed what the trading standards officer has told her? She can't call them those names any more because the silly people of Dorset (I'm being sarcastic, I know you are all normal really) might think the tarts contain pigs and frogs and robins and, let's face it, that cake never came from Paradise! Read it here.

So what else will trading standards officers be looking out for around the country? Send in your suggestions and we'll keep them busy as they are obviously seriously under-employed. How about turkish delight that doesn't come from Turkey, or 'death by chocolate' cake that doesn't kill you? It doesn't have to be food, any misleading labels will do.


  1. Misleading labels? How about "public servant"?

  2. You could run two contests here, the one you have declared but also a more modern one about how public officials, consumer advocates, the caring professions and even curriculum designers believe increasingly that the public is so stupid or witless as to require a level of protection and guidance formerly reserved for toddlers. The bureaucrat in this story thinks he is exculpating himself by saying that she doesn't have to re-name them at all, she just has to make sure everybody knows there are no robins in their cakes. True, that may be a widespread problem in Dorset, but I rather think something else is at play here.

    I haven't flown for a while, but the lengthy demonstrations of how to fasten and unfasten a seat belt used to slay me. And I always enjoy the thick instuction manuals that come with every new appliance warning me in bold letters not to do things like make toast in the shower.

    The scary notion is that the bureaucrats may be right and more and more people do actually need these public nannies. Nonetheless, as every child knows, they are fun to torture when you get the chance. I wish our heroine-baker would re-name her Paradise Cakes "Hell Cakes" so we could all watch the memos fly.

  3. I thought this was all the fault of lawyers, Peter. Everybody has to protect themselves from the unscrupulous ambulance-chasers and the personal injury claim merchants.

  4. This episode will be a good test of Brit's contention that the English are a reasonable people.

  5. David:
    I'm worrying about you - first of all expecting London to be chilly in April and then not knowing about Mars Bars. (Chocolate bars filled with soft caramel.)

    When I was a child and we still had post-war rationing on sugar and sweets, my mother would save the sweet coupons to buy a Mars bar every week. On Sunday afternoon she cut it into 4 slices and my sisters, brother and I took turns to have the end slices with the extra chocolate. It was bliss. Frankly, I can't stand them now!

    I agree with every word, which is why I picked out the news article.

  6. Duck:
    I think I used to be labelled as a 'public servant' so I'd plead the fifth amendment if we had such a thing here.

  7. Brit:

    Ah, we poor lawyers. Everybody forgets that whenever some madness emerges from court, there was always a lawyer on the other side trying to stop it.

    Sure, in areas like product liability, school liability and several others, although the philosophical among us might say the law is just channelling an increasing refusal by the public to accept risk and chance. I think the social sciences are equally to blame with all their silly multiple choice forms and questionnaires. There are other reasons too, like immigration. Odds are there is some country somewhere where they really do eat robins for dessert.

    But none of all that explains the experience of opening a thick census form or other long questionnaire and reading something like :"Step 1: Sharpen two pencils and sit down at a cleared desk in a well-lit room."

  8. I've come to realise that blogging after dinner, if the wine has been flowing, is a mistake. I thought Brit had suggested Mars bars as a misleading label and that David had queried it. Sorry about the pointless anecdote there!

    I've also found myself getting embroiled in pointless arguments on matters religious, which is probably the biggest mistake of all!

  9. M: "The biggest mistake of all." Or, as it's otherwise known, blogging.

    You did make me doubt myself on the "Mars Bar" quip, of which I was inordinately proud. We don't have them in the States, as they are a sweeter version of what we call a "Milky Way Bar."

  10. Sorry about that, David. The concentration isn't what it was!


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