December 11 , 2018 /


Maybe there’s an app or one waiting to be developed that will scan and read a label which is often so small I can’t see it.  I have been a label reader for a long time and it doesn’t seem to be receding like so many other things at this point.

Take yesterday for example. I saw some blueberries, a fairly large container, looked at the label and it said they were from Peru.  Hmmm, I thought, long journey but OK they have it figured out from picking to packing to shipping to delivery to pickup to another delivery to the store.  However, I was looking for “organic” and Voila! there they were in a smaller container. I glanced at the label and it said, “Naturipe Farms, LLC, Salinas, CA.”  Yayyy!  I grabbed them and hurried on home.  Unpacking, I look again at the label and right there, underneath what I had seen in the store, it said, “Product of Chile.”  All right, they’re still “organic” whatever that means in Chile.  Yes, we look for “organic” as often as we can.

When my kids were young, they thought “Reg Penna Dept Agr” was actually a phrase you could say out loud.  We had fun with it and they still remember it.  They are 56, 54 and 50 respectively.  What it means is “the people of Pennsylvania, apparently, are incurable do-gooders. In 1933, they became concerned about the quality of the new, mass-produced baked goods that were infiltrating their state and passed the Pennsylvania Bakery Law to ensure that all products met their exacting standards for cleanliness and honest weight.”  That “registration” not “regulation” also applied to canned goods and other foodstuffs.  My kids also thought that “IRREG” was a brand name for clothing!

What do you make of all the clothing labels?  They come with washing instructions and “dry clean only.”  Of course, the brand name itself is prominent and some even have the logo on the outside.   Why would you pay a company to advertise their brand when in fact they should pay you?  I know, it’s making a personal statement of some kind or other.  I had a friend who very carefully took a razor blade and cut the small rectangle right out of his shirt sleeve.  It made for some interesting conversations.

There are, of course, all kinds of labels. Besides food and clothing, we see them everywhere. There is the infamous “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of the Law” on mattresses and furniture which gave me great delight ripping them off without feeling guilty.  After all, it was mine and I could damn well rip it off with a feeling of satisfaction.  Electronics usually have labels about their use along with a set of instructions, often in three or four languages.  What often caught my attention are the two letters UL.  It seems that most people know that those two letters stand for Underwriters Laboratory.  They have been around for more than 100 years and are concerned about testing for safety.  You can visit their web site if you want the whole story at:

One category of products that carry labels that boggle my mind are prescription drugs.  First of all there are brand name and generic drugs depending on the patent status.  But the kicker for me are the list of possible side effects.  I know, “possible” is the qualifier and they never tell you the incidence of those occurring possibly because they don’t know or don’t want you to know.  Anyway, we have good reasons from our docs about how this or that drug is going to help us in spite of the possibility of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, itching, rash, fever, drowsiness, headaches, and so on. The FDA is the regulatory agency that requires the drug makers to list those along with warnings about not stopping the drug without talking with your doctor because that can also cause side effects.  All you have to do is to watch a few of the ads on TV and listen carefully if you haven’t already done that.

I could go on and describe other labels connected with consumer experiences that range from A to Z and exist by the gazillions.  Suffice to say, it’s an interesting exercise that I put under the category of learning what I can about a product or a service.  It’s also cheap entertainment, often good for a laugh.    There’s a difference in my mind between labels that inform and logos that merely identify.  Logos are often regarded as labels but let’s not confuse the issue.  There’s no end in sight for finding and describing my label reading so I will end with this one.  “Guaranteed delivery by ______________.”   Really?


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