Can You Keep a Secret?

On Monday, I went into work to discover that a major cheese producer had recalled a large number of products. Something to do with shelf life (yes, that means the possibility of moldy cheese). As a result, there were gaping holes in spots. Additionally we had ended a sale for products made by that same company over the weekend. Normally we get the replacement stock on Monday, but not this week. So – more holes.

As I was bringing out a cart full of cheese, a woman stopped me by calling out from a few feet away, “There’s the person I’m looking for!” (It’s funny how those same words can make you feel appreciated or make you want to run.) She came up and asked me what the deal is with the recall. I told her that it was an issue with the shelf life. She wanted to know if the manufacturer had recalled the products or Ralph’s. I assured her that it came from the company. She leaned in and asked me if I was telling the truth about how much I knew.

She wanted a product that was not on recall, but was out of stock. She told me how “interesting” it was that we happened to be out of stock for the product we had given her a coupon for a few days earlier. It was “obvious” what we were up to. We just wanted to get her (personally) into the store with the promise of something she wanted so we could sell her what we wanted to sell. I was grateful that she explained what we were up to. It was actually a lot more comforting than the thought that the manufacturer was causing us to lose thousands of dollars in revenue by not providing some of our best-selling products.

As I was trying to figure out how Ralph’s could have planned to be out of exactly what she wanted on the one day she was in the store, I wondered if other people go from point A to point B via point Q. I decided that I need to check the Internet. I love the Internet – it’s like statistics: you can prove anything you want by knowing what to do with the data. Unfortunately, unlike statistics people’s thoughts are not always as rational as numbers. I should have known better than to type “cheese conspiracy” into the search engine.

The majority of the early responses were about something called “The Great Cheese Conspiracy” by Jean Van Leeuwen. It’s a very cute story about some mice who try to steal cheese. All of those stories were pretty straight-forward. When I got to the humans, it was a different story (of course). Some (very few) were factual, some were tongue-in-cheek, and a few people should meet my customer.

My favorite was the man who said that Roger Federer lost his edge as a tennis player because of cheese. Apparently after Federer won Wimbledon, someone sent him some cheese as a gift. Being human, he ate the cheese. Because of the high fat content, Federer was unable to perform at his highest level and lost at the Olympics. The cheese gift was an attempt to ruin Federer’s game, and it worked. If you are interested, you can watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3x0921YzOY.

Apparently more well-known (from the number of citations), is the Subway Vast Isosceles Cheese Conspiracy from 2007. It seems that Subway was trying to use the triangles to charge more for cheese. If you lay the triangles in a rhombus, you only need one layer of cheese. But if you lay the cheese in a razorback you need two layers of cheese to fully cover the sandwich. So Subway can charge for double cheese.  I’m not sure how well this conspiracy is working. I don’t know how my cheese has been laid out, but when it’s melted it all runs together anyway.

There is a man who feels the British government is forcing restaurants to favor British cheeses over Continental cheeses by having farmers and industries create a wide variety of cheeses that are inferior to those across the Channel. People can then feel they are supporting their own farmers. There are also a fair number of people who humorously claim that large companies have intentionally stopped creating their favorite products (e.g., blue cheese dressing) to cause them emotional distress.

Of course, someone always has to ruin the fun. In 2007 (apparently a big year for cheese theories), a Chicago grand jury indicted four people for trying to ship more than 110,000 pounds of contaminated Mexican-style cheese. They took cheese customers had returned, scraped off the mold and fungus, and resold it wholesale. They were caught creating false documentation after lying to federal agents. I think they might have gotten away with it if they’d used bleu cheese or limburger – it’s really hard to tell whether or not they have spoiled.

I was unable to pin down one final theory. It’s called “The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Conspiracy – the Truth Revealed”. It’s tagged with “think about the animals”. I could get to the video but couldn’t get it to run (maybe the Philadelphia people have blocked it). You can look for it on 30 Bananas a Day – The High Carb Raw Vegan Lifestyle website. It shows 24 views so you can probably still be the first to rate it.

In the meantime, I am going to look for the people responsible for replacing all the chocolate chip ice cream with cookie dough ice cream. I’m sure someone had to be paid off.

 

 

 

 

 

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