I’ve wanted to write about some of the ads I’ve come across in Astounding during my Vacation in the Golden Age, but I haven’t really had a chance. Each episode typically tops out somewhere north of 3,000 words and I want the focus to be on the content of the issue. So I figured I’d take this opportunity to do a brief write up on some of the more interesting or amusing ads I’ve seen in my vacation so far.
Keep in mind that what hold true for my vacation in the Golden Age holds true here too: that I am a visitor from the future, and bring along all the baggage of that foreknowledge with me.
There is an ad on Metro trains for the Giant chain of supermarkets, touting their “new low prices” on produce. The accompanying picture is that of two pieces of asparagus, and that has got me wondering who chose asparagus for the advertisement and what were they thinking?
Of all vegetables, asparagus is my least favorite. There isn’t much flavor to it and what it lacks in flavor, it adds to the odor of urine. In fact, this odor appears in the urine of 40% of people who eat asparagus. It is caused by sulfer-containing degredation products, one of which is methyl mercapatan. Methyl mercapatan happens to be a cousin of another foul-smelling chemical, butyl mercaptan, which is the chemical which gives skunks spray its nasty odor.
While asparagus is a very healthy vegetable, I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that should be used on an advertisement for produce. I’d much rather see pictures of large, ripe, organic tomatoes, or heaps of brocolli, or fresh green peppers. I can’t figure out why Giant would use two parallel spears of asparagus to represent their produce. It makes me think their produce stinks.