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Monday, April 21, 2014
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Published: 3/4/2004

Less is more sounds like tasty concept on life s menu

There are some things you just never think you ll live long enough to see.

Christmas in July.

Flying pigs.

Hell freezing over.

But the big news yesterday (aside from that Kerry guy) was this news bulletin:

McDonald s, of all places, is downsizing.

Wave good-bye to Super Sizing, girls and boys.

Oh, fine.

After years spent getting the American consumer accustomed to b-i-g portions, now McDonald s is reversing itself.

The fast-food chain will take its two-hump camel-sized sodas off the menu, as well as its largest portion of french fries.

(I guess all that chatter about portion control and the rising national obesity rate didn t fall on deaf ears, after all.)

By the end of this year at McDonald s, the 42-ounce soda will be no more, and the 7-ounce Super Sized fries will get knocked down by all of one ounce.

That means the french fry options at Mickey D s will dwindle from five different sizes to a humble three: small (2.6 ounces), medium (4 ounces), and large (6 ounces).

This is a trend I only hope continues and, yes, even extends - not just among the fast-food crowd, and certainly not only with food.

Less of everything, I am now convinced, really is more.

We are suffering - oh, all right then, we are merely distracted by - the very surfeit of American life.

We just have too much.

Too much stuff. Too many choices.

Too much much.

It s not that I personally have anything against abundance. I m just thinking, maybe it s more a matter of efficiency.

You could spend five minutes just trying to figure out which variety of toilet paper to put in your shopping cart.

Quilted? Big roll? Double roll?

You could spend 10 minutes just choosing canned soup.

Chicken noodle? Chicken noodle with bow tie pasta? Chicken noodle with roasted garlic? Rotisserie chicken noodle soup? Condensed soup? Ready-to-serve? Freeze-dried?

You could spend 20 minutes trying to figure out which might be the best way to whiten your teeth at home.

Whitening strips? “Premium” whitening strips? Paint-on goop? Brightening toothpaste?

Two years ago, you had no idea your teeth even need whitening, now did you?

Consumer choice is one of the big selling points of the life in these United States.

It s also one of its curses.

Think how much faster the weekly supermarket trip might be if we didn t have to think so hard about choosing this, selecting that.

Think how much more time we d have - to learn more about, say, politics, or maybe study another language - if we didn t have to research and decide on a long-distance carrier, or our natural gas supplier.

It s not that I m looking for our way of life to resemble the empty-shelf scarcity of under-developed nations.

But, I mean, c mon, when is enough enough?

The only time you really need an endless bounty of choice is in a bookstore.



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