Friday, January 7, 2011

Stereotypes, Sauce & Sassy Jewelry

I love grocery shopping, & I really love pasta. How serendipitous, then, that the pasta sauce coupons I won  from Black Pearls & Bitch Boots they arrived on grocery day. Coupons in hand, I headed to my local store with my trust shopping list (written by my mom because I'm still 15 for the time being) & eventually made my way to the pasta sauce aisle, in all its tomatoey glory. I should mention that I only recently began to like tomatoes. Or pasta sauce.

ANYWAY. I once had a boss who looked a great deal like Paul Newman, but he didn't like being told this. I'm not sure why, though, because frankly, Paul Newman was a fairly attractive dude, even in his later years. Now, though, PNew is dead & all commemorated in illustrative form on salad dressing packets & tomato sauce jars.

This one caught my eye first. Paul looks normal, sure, or as normal as a smiley cartoon dead guy can look while staring out at you from a glass jar of sauce. Mostly, I was confused by the name of this particular Newman's Own product. Sockarooni? This sounds like something that a big, overenthusiastic, sweaty guy yells at his kids' soccer matches: "GO GET 'IM, TYLER! GOALLLL! SOCKKKKEROONI!" But apparently it's just "peppers, spices, & the whole shebang," or so say the folks at Newman's Own.

And then I noticed that some of the other sauces, while less amusingly named, feature Paul looking quite dapper in a variety of "ethnic" (is that racist?) hats. And actually, my question is this: Is that racist? Or xenophobic? Or awkward? Or any of those things? I've never met a joyful, pasta-eating Russian in an ushanka, nor a smiley, sauce-swilling Frenchman with a pencil mustache & a wine-colored  beret. But that's just me. Admittedly, I probably don't know international pasta consumers as well as the folks at Newman's Own do.

But the most bizarre of all, I think, is also the least explicable. Because really, I get why Newman's Own thought the Russian Paul should be in a furry cap & Paul-the-Frenchman should be all, well, Frenchy-looking, even if it's mildly offensive. But what, pray tell, is the illustrative logic behind the labeling on their Tomato & Basil Bombolina sauce?

Are you unsure? Good, because I'm not sure, either. From what I can tell, those are the bejweled hands of an unidentified woman holding Paul Newman's disembodied head over a vegetable garden. I'm still not sure how this relates to tomatoes, basil, pasta, sauce, or any combination thereof. Are Italians famous for toting happy heads around in their well-manicured hands? Is this a mobster reference with a play on pasta sauce? Is there a "Godfather" joke in here someplace?

I'm going to leave you to ponder that. But I'm also going to leave you to ponder this baffling piece or "artwork" (I use that term loosely) spotted at my local Panera. Listen, I'm as Jewish as the next bagel-eating Jewish gal, but this necklace & earrings set is too much even for me.

...I have so many questions.
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