A Sweet Wake-up Call In The Mail

If I were a shark and you cut me open hoping to find evidence of what I last ate, you would find boxes of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats — of course, without the boxes and shiny foil wrappers, and not in the form of rectangular 2-by-3-inch bars.

Yes, I can go through one bar a day, sometimes two, at least four days a week, so in less than two months I have been known to wipe out a box of 54 all by my lonesome. I am neither proud nor ashamed of this imprudent diet stemming from childhood Halloween deprivation — hey, there are worse vices.

Except I do admit that I am a bit self-conscious when that bright blue box is the only thing I am carrying to the Costco checkout line.

Granted, a few people will notice me in the store and roll their eyes while speculating my reckless indulgence. But I didn’t think anyone else was watching me, and I don’t mean via the usual surveillance videos in stores and parking lots, on unscrupulous people’s cell phones, and oh my gosh, they’re everywhere, and I don’t want to think about it anymore. What I mean is that someone’s watching me via this thing called information technology that can receive and store everything everyone purchases. It hit me when I received a letter in the mail recently specifically stating that the very box of Original Rice Krispies Treats that I last purchased may have been “missing a few bars.”

Costco, under a department called “Food Safety,” alerted me to the “mistake” by methodically sending a presorted first-class flier announcing a “Food Information Notice.” On the flier is a Kellogg’s Quality letterhead with an apology to Costco members regarding the error. “Please be assured this is not what Kellogg’s wants to deliver to you when you purchase our products. If you were affected by this, please reach us …”

Was I affected by this? After I got over the trauma of being “found out,” I wondered how I would know that I was affected if I didn’t count the bars upon opening the box. Plus, after opening the box, I had efficiently transferred the bars to a recycled, opaque, wildsalmon resealable plastic bag — mind you, not because I am trying to disguise them in my glass-doored pantry — which means I also no longer possessed the box in which they came.

But even if I did count the number of bars and I still had the box, Kellogg’s did not identify the affected batch number. So how can I justify a claim? And why would I want to call a toll-free number that could take up half my morning — and don’t ask me how busy I am (not).

Though the company may have meant well, my momentary intolerance got absolutely nothing out of the letter except bad news and one more piece of paper to add to my ever-burgeoning stack of recyclable junk mail. Couldn’t the company have been kinder and easier on its customers by instead attaching a dollar coupon as a believable show of regret and a hope for continued customer satisfaction?

Overall, I’m glad that the flier was not issuing a “food safety” concern, like the presence of bacteria, toxins or strange objects in my food. However, as relatively insignificant as the missing bars are, that fact conveyed in a shallow, robotic manner made me re-examine whether I wanted to keep consuming this well-preserved, well-packaged treat in such volume anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, to each his own. It’s just that from now on, I think I will create my own healthy version of crispy rice treats from scratch.

Then, at the very least, I wouldn’t feel self-conscious anymore at the checkout line.

janeesaki@gmail.com

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