Sometimes it’s difficult to tell

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell why something happens. Back in summer 2019 I was up in Scotland for a few days and I wrote about buying some biscuits – yes, all human life is here! Going back and reading it again I’m not ashamed of it – it has some biology in it as well as some shopping. But the reason that I went back and looked at it is that for the last few days other people have been looking at it and it’s unusual for a far-away post to get so many reads.

I can see which pages of my website people are looking at in real time, and I do keep an eye on it through the day. And suddenly there are people reading that blog about mimicry in biscuits. Not hundreds of people, but certainly scores of people – all of a sudden.

I wonder whether these people have stumbled across my blog but it seems more likely that a newsletter or social media has directed people to it, and I wonder whether these are people mostly interested in mimicry or mostly interested in biscuits.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell.


11 Replies to “Sometimes it’s difficult to tell”

  1. Well, I looked back at the post and I didn’t know that so I’ve learnt something, thanks, and also amazed at the connection ! Don’t think i could have leapt from a supermarket in the far north to mimicry in animals.

    however, I was horrified a couple of years ago to read the ingredients on the real things – McVities milk chocolate digestives – to find that they have joined the ranks of super-processed foods with an ingredients list the length of your arm, including, of course, palm oil. Surely it wasn’t like that when we were young ? I’s always thought they were pure and almost home made….

    1. The only things that are wholesomely home made are in fact really home made! Who’d have thought it.

    2. I’ve a recollection that many years ago I read the ingredients of that brand leader of digestive biscuits and they contained whale oil! Could I have made that up?

  2. If you examine the packaging of ‘own brand’ items you can see (but not always) similarities to commercial brands, either in the naming or the packaging design and colourations. Mimicry can be deception by another name.

  3. One small point about digestive biscuits since they’re the subject matter and happen to be my favourite, they’re round, not square, not rectangular or triangular. Without straight edges the packets can’t be stacked together without leaving empty gaps. Round items take up approx 20% more space than equivalent ones in a square shape. That means when they’re being distributed from producers to distribution centres to retail they’ll need six pallets, six boxes, six cardboard inserts, six loads of shrink wrap and/or maybe six sets of polypropylene pallet straps when if they were square (or rectangular) they would just need five of each with associated reduction in labour and perhaps even being able to use five rather than six lorries to deliver them.

    Imagine if pizza boxes could be smaller because they contained tightly fitting square pizzas, all powdered milk cartons were square, biscuit tins were square too and contained square biscuits. Even glass containers can be square/squarish. Technically there are only a few occasions when products and packaging can’t avoid space guzzling curves. Thankfully for the sake of chicken welfare the square egg is likely to be some way off. Could black pudding and haggis slices be straight sided to fit into smaller packaging? These are the existential questions that keep me awake at night.

    I was 34, twenty years ago now, before someone pointed this issue out to me and my eyes were opened to an oversight that means we are using considerably more natural resources and creating more waste and pollution by far than we have to. That’s not good for nature, and think of the money wasted that could have gone to good causes. With conscientious (i.e just bloody sane) design we could end up with fewer container ships needing to traverse the world’s oceans and that means reduced risk of collision with whales – seriously that’s the logical conclusion. Rectangular digestives could save a whale!

    Now when I go shopping I automatically scan the shelves to see where a simple change in packaging/product shape could dramatically reduce the packaging and other resources needed to get them on to the supermarket shelf (and thereby they could be smaller too). The technology exists to produce square soup and bean tins and in fact Sainsbury experimented with selling them a few years ago, but sales weren’t quite what they wanted. That’s a mind boggling saving all tinned goods being square not round. If you’ve managed to read this far (well done!!), it will be interesting to know if your perspective has changed when you’re out shopping and anything round triggers an uneasiness when you realise the implications for resource use, pollution and waste.

    1. Square pizza? You mean pizza al trancio? It’s cool. It and Detroit style, I wish would catch on.

  4. Brewdog ( who , on balance, i hope are the new owners of Kinrara – see Nick Kempe’s Parkswatch blog- ), have recently had a hilarious correspondence with ALDI concerning the latters mimicry of their beer cans.
    It is worth trying to find, there are links on the aforementioned blog.

  5. Mark Avery likes biscuits sweet and savoury,
    That complement a quality cheese.
    He loves digestives by McVitie,
    And it’s all the more a pity,
    That Tower Gate’s Averian mimicry doesn’t please

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