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Monday, August 24, 2009

World's Worst Lie

I was craving pancakes the other day, so I decided to head over to a local, hole-in-the-wall diner to satisfy said craving. When I opened the menu, I was not shocked to see the declaration, "World's Best Pancakes!" But then it struck me: what a load of bullshit. World's best? WORLD'S best?! Really?! I'm so sick of this phrase on menus and every other store sign. "World's best ice cream," "world's best stereo systems," "world's best cat litter." Seriously, I typed "world's best" into google, just as an experiment, and the number one item that came up was "world's best cat litter." I don't know if that illustrates my point about the abuse of superlatives or is a sad statement about the abundance of pathetic, lonely cat people. Probably both.

The point is, to claim that whatever you're selling is the world's best is just preposterous! So I'm to believe you went everywhere in the world, and found that of all the products that do the same thing as your product, your product did it best? I mean, I'm not a mathematician or anything, but chances are pretty good you're a huge liar.

I'm fine with "award-winning," but it had better be a legitimate award. I don't want to see "award-winning pecan pie" on your menu only to find out your neighbors held a pie competition in their backyard and your pecan pie came in second place . . . although at least that still wouldn't be a blatant lie . . . technically speaking.

"World's best" only sets the bar too high anyway. They should do a better job of managing expectations. Even if the pancakes were great (which they were, in this most recent case), you're probably going to be disappointed after all the "world's best" hype. There's no way they can live up to that. They're doing a disservice to themselves. The truth is, that claim is so absurd that people don't even pay attention to it anymore, and it just throws everything else your establishment advertises into question, like when Holden says he's a terrific liar at the beginning of Catcher in the Rye.

Same thing goes for "world famous." If I live up the street from your establishment, and I've never even heard about your "world famous" goulash until just now when I walked in, then it's not world famous.

I actually just had a quick conversation with my little brother about this, and we were saying, that somewhere in the world, they actually do have the world's best pancakes. But even then, that's subjective, obviously. So we agreed, that menus should have to say, "voted world's best," and then specify by whom, and in what year, so that they don't get complacent and decide to rest on their laurels. That's all.

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