A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bonus Milk

In Korean grocery stores I frequently see little "bonus" items taped to products to make them more desirable. Looking through the refrigerator aisle of the local K-Mart or i-Mart (but not E-Mart, they're too classy, read: close to 'A') you see these boil-bag spaghetti dinners with cans of Pepsi stuck to the side with packing tape. Also there will be 1L cartons of milk with small packages of processed cheese slices attached.

It's a fairly reasonable assumption that someone who likes milk would not be opposed to bonus cheese, at no additional cost to them. Pepsi and instant spaghetti obviously compliment each other nicely. This is just the small grocery chain's answer to "service", like when the swanky department stores give you a free box of instant coffee tubes when us bean-heads shell out $24 for a bag of Columbian.

Who doesn't like free stuff? Why have one thing when you can have two? Who cares if the second thing is something you wouldn't have necessarily paid for in the first place. The store obviously already new that and liquidated it accordingly.

This is not a consumer philosophy I subscribe to. I definitely don't disregard sales, especially when they involve certain ice cream bars, but on the whole, I just want to buy what I want to buy. I'm a very single-minded shopper.

Working under that set of values, it becomes hard to avoid "bonus milk."

This is an interesting phenomenon where EVERY available carton of your preferred brand of milk comes with a mini bonus carton taped to the side. Sure, it gives the illusion of added value, and makes you feel like something of a milk tycoon, but I go through milk slowly enough as it is. A splash in my coffee from time to time, or a bowl of cereal is all I ask of it. In fact I'm sure I need to reevaluate my casual relationship with milk, since its not one for waiting around until you feel like using it. It's a spiteful creature that I think actually curdles faster if ignored. This makes bonus milk a problem, albeit not enough of one to make me switch to less "fully-featured" brands like Einstein or ESL Milk. I'm a Seoul Milk man myself.

In conclusion, this is probably the most asinine anecdote I've ever written, but this is what I think about while alone in Korea.


Anonymous said...

I agree. I know I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, but sometimes I don't want that extra bit. I bought a sandwich today and the lady gave me a bag of croutons with it.

Sam said...

That's like giving someone a hamburger, then beef bones.