“Combine brownie mix, 2 tablespoons water, and melted butter until smooth.”
Every once in while I like to bake on Sunday afternoons. It’s a nice way to wind down before the start of another week, it makes the house smell good without having to clean, and when I’m done I get a cookie. It was during one of those baking sessions that I saw Betty Crocker’s rage right out in the open, in plain English.
I was making brownie-cookie bars from a box mix when I received a stern talking to from the queen of quick cooking.
Resentment in print form.
I type up internal communications, descriptions of ensembles, write directions for auditions, and other informative notes for a website at work. So, when I saw “…melted butter…” twice in italics on Betty’s box I didn’t read it simple as melted butter. What I saw was the following:
“Combine brownie mix, 2 tablespoons of water, and MELTED butter. That’s right, people: MELTED. Because if we here at Betty Crocker receive one more phone call or pissed off email about your brownie-cookie bars not coming out right just because YOU used butter that wasn’t melted, we’re going to be pissed. And we’re probably going to tell you exactly where you can shove those brownie-cookie bars.”
I immediately picked up on it because it’s how I wish individuals would read the informative sites I create. Yet the important bits always manage to be missed. What Betty used is attitude in language. There are different ways to use this attitude. For example there’s a shop near my home that uses the most pretentious punctuation that I’ve ever seen and it annoys me every time my eyes are accosted by the billboard:
Come. And get it.
Read: “Come shop here. And see why rich people are cooler then you. Buy something you don’t need. And get why we’re awesome. Shop here. Stupid.”
For crap’s sake. I just can’t stand it. I’ve never wanted to punch fragmented sentences in the face so badly before.
Advertisements are a whole other animal these days. In fact, I ditched cable just to purge our house from commercial demons, even though some ads can be so great. But it’s attitude in type face and punctuation that can either work for you or back fire.
I’m never going to Come. And get it. Until you Come to my house. And clean it.
But Betty Crocker’s message? I felt instant sympathy for the Lady and her staff. I not only read that message loud and clear, but I felt for her, and learned something. Next time I’m editing informational explanations and procedures on our website I’m going to use italics on the important and often repeated bits.Maybe then somebody will get it.
After all, using italics seems to be much more effective than, say,
“Combine mix, water, and melted butter, Ass.”