Canned Soup in a Jar
By Anthony Buccino
One of the brightest things I’ve seen in the supermarkets lately, besides canned soup in a jar, of course, is a machine that takes your money and gives you back a percentage as the price for telling you how much money you gave it in the first place.
The ads have been around for some time, but until I actually saw the items stacked row upon row on the supermarket shelf, I never thought I would ever see what they called canned soup in a jar. But there they are, in four varieties, cream of mushroom, minestrone, chicken and pasta with garden vegetables, and garden vegetable and pasta.
The famous soup people from south Jersey say it is “a fresh way of looking at soup.” True, now you can look at canned soup in a jar and see almost exactly what is in it.
Looking at it, it seems unnatural. After all, canned soup should be in a can, not a jar. So, even if the lids are tin, it is not the same as canned soup in a can, it is still canned soup in a jar.
If people wanted to see what the soup inside the can looked like, they would insist on metal cans with little windows. Who is to say now that canned soup in a jar will last as long as canned soup in a can? It always seemed that canned anything in a can would last virtually forever. Anyone for c-rations, war unknown?
Another ad that caught my eye, but not my wallet, shows a young guy, not unlike myself, staring straight at the camera, stiff-lipped, and I’ll tell you why. He must have 200 yellow-jackets stuck where his beard would be.
Now, since I just ripped out the picture of the guy with the bees on his face, I have to guess that it was for some kind of Norelco product, although copyright laws prevent me from telling you why.
We’ve all had days like his. Days, where after shaving and bracing our luckless face with a perfumed skin bracer that has all the subtlety of sitting on a set of darts, we felt as if we had bees living on our face.
Sure, but looking at the stillness of the model in the yellow-jacket ad, it makes me wonder how long he had to stand there while they applied the bees. And another thing, was the hapless model, handsome though he may be, stung at anytime?
As far as I’m concerned, whatever they paid him to sit there under the hot photographer’s lights while more than 200 yellow-jackets perfectly aligned for just the right shot, well, whatever they paid him, it wasn’t enough.
All my youthful run-ins with yellow-jackets and hornets, what we called bees and wasps where I grew up, always ended up with me being stung on a certain part of my anatomy.
However, my cousin Bobby, who lived next door for a while, actually hunted bees and wasps and tried to kill them by giving them a sudden round of applause in mid-flight.
I can’t say how well it worked. I never hung around long enough to see if it actually worked. Whenever he got into one of those moods, I found something else to amuse me.
One of the brightest things I’ve seen in the supermarkets lately, besides canned soup in a jar, of course, is a machine that takes your money and gives you back a percentage as the price for telling you how much money you gave it in the first place. Not unlike the Garden State Parkway, which takes your money for the pleasure of sitting in traffic, this machine takes your money and charges you for counting it.
Now, I can’t vouch for whether the machine works or is a good deal for you, but it has to be a good deal for the guy who put it in the supermarket.
The way the machine is supposed to work is, you empty all your change from the kids’ piggy banks and bring it into the supermarket the next time you need to feed your family. While you are in the store, you drop all the coins in your possession in the coin counter machine.
That’s where the coin machine comes in. You gather all the money from the couch cushions, dad’s recliner and the other usual places and bring it to the supermarket, drop it into the machine and watch it whir, clank and count and finally spit out a voucher for your coins.
For your amusement and freedom from sitting around counting and sorting your own paper clips, washers, belly-button lint, the friendly company that invented the machine confiscates a 7.5 percent fee from your voucher.
You stand there, paying no attention to the man behind the curtain, while the machine sorts up to 600 coins per minute from the paper clips, dust, buttons, Parkway tokens and washers your kids had stored in their piggy banks.
The company that makes and places the machines in the supermarket says the typical household has between $30 and $50 in coins sitting around the house. They say that most people, if asked would say they have about half of that and then be surprised to learn it was double what they said.
The company says this ‘found money’ -- yours, not theirs, can be invested, or put into a savings account. In about three years at current interest rates, you might have as much money as you had before you let the machine count it, that is, unless your bank charges a monthly fee. In that case, you might as well take your voucher from the friendly machine and stock up on canned soup in a jar.
There will be two things you can do with the canned soup jars long after you’ve eaten the soup and washed them. You can poke a bunch of air holes in the lid and put some honey in the bottom and catch yellow jackets.
When you’ve got enough yellow-jackets in the jar, try to use them to shave your face. I’ve always wanted to know if that works, so drop me a line.
Or, you can start storing your new coins in the empty jars. As Martha Stewart would say, just notch a hole in the lid and slip your new coins inside . . . until your next visit to the supermarket.
First published in The Independent Press of Bloomfield on June 5, 1997.
Adapted from RAMBLING ROUND Inside and Outside at the Same Time
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards. The Pushcart Prize-nominated writer has been called ' “New Jersey’s ‘Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’
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