Bewildered by too many choices


A former colleague of mine called to say he would be in town this weekend and needed a place to stay.  I was delighted to offer him the guest room since I’ve finally cleared out the Christmas decorations.

I asked him what he liked to eat.  (I love to cook and was happy to have a bachelor in the house whose taste couldn’t be too discerning.)


He replied that he would be in meetings and all he needed was a bowl of cereal in the morning.  I was anxious to please, so I headed for the supermarket to pick up a box, never suspecting how daunted that task would be.

I’ve been on a total cereal fast for going on 15 years.  When my last child left for college, I swore never to buy a box of what I consider to be “cattle feed” – only worse since it contains lots of sugar and empty calories.

What has happened in those 20 years of avoiding the cereal aisle is mind boggling.  The last time I ventured down the aisle, it was about 10 linear feet, now it’s at least 60 and the boxes line both sides of the aisle, screaming in unison “BUY ME!”  They’re also pricier than lobster.

Did I want Berry Bones Scooby Doo or Monster Boo Berries! Or how about Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! Choco Donuts or Marshmallow Mania Pebbles. I picked Rice Krispies with Real Strawberries because I detest fake strawberries.

Next, I visited the milk aisle which I also avoid, preferring to get my calcium from a pill.  Oh, my gosh.  Have you bought milk lately?  Did I want low fat, reduced fat, fat free, 1%, 2%, soy, almond, or rice milk?  I asked the clerk where the “real” milk was and he looked at me like I had two heads.

Milkless, I wheeled on over to toothpaste aisle to buy a tube to put in the guest bathroom.  Let’s see, one has tartar control and baking soda and another has mouthwash and whitening properties.  Did I want gel, paste or a swirl of both, a squeeze tube or a pump?

Juice in the morning sounded nice.  Did I want organic, regular, with or without calcium or minimal or maximal pulp?

By then I was mentally exhausted and felt the beginnings of a nagging headache. I tooled on over to the medication section to pick up some aspirin.  It seemed everyone from General Motors to Hewlett Packard is peddling pills these days.  Did I want capsules, liquid, gel caps or powder.  Did I want PM, AM, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen?

I remember when we basically had two choices:  Bufferin or Bayer.  Cereal choices were limited to Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies and Sugar Pops. Milk was delivered to your front door in bottles and you had to strain the cream off the top.

eggsToday, Starbucks offers us 87,000 choices of drink combinations and there are over 400 brands of bottled water.  Is all this really necessary?

I left the $5 box of cereal in the aspirin aisle and picked up a pound of bacon (which has morphed into 12 ounces) along with a dozen eggs.  Thankfully, eggs are still just eggs. If I’m giving my friend a space to stay he can darn well eat like an adult for a change.

One thought on “Bewildered by too many choices

  1. Well praise be and pass the biscuits. I am sure glad
    someone else thinks we have entirely too many choices.
    I have been bemoaning this for the past few years.
    We have people starving in this world, and what do we
    have an over abundance of stuff. I for one want a
    grocery store with just the basics. Like you say 3 kinds
    of cereal, maybe 2 milks, 2 of most things and no more.
    I would vote for that .
    Cheers – M

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