Monday, November 07, 2005

a biscuit, a basket...

If you subscribe to a newspaper like I do, chances are you've received a flood of flyers for pricy gift baskets over the past few weeks. Usually inserted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, these catalogues offer "distinctive" arrays of nuts, chocolates, cookies, pasta sauces, smoked salmom, baby toys and other products, often from brands that only exist in the realm of gift baskets. Company names may be plain and simple (The Basket Company), personal (Peter & Paul's), brick and mortar stores (Pusateri's), punny (Nutcracker Sweet) or flat-out weird (Gift-O-Crat).

Some of the crazier basket names discovered in this year's catalogues:

Equity Shares (The Basket Company): I'm guessing a former bean-counter runs this outfit. Dividends from your $65 investment include nuts, chocolate truffles, camembert and a planter.

Patient Pleasures (The Basket Company): Nothing says get well to a friend in the hospital than $55 worth of sugary snacks, playing cards and Reader's Digest, especially when treatment dictates nourishment through a tube.

The Coxwell (Gift-O-Crat): Somehow, Lindt chocolate and $65 worth of cocoa treats doesn't remind me of Coxwell Ave. Model cars crashing into each other while turning left at Danforth would be more appropriate.

The Kensington (Gift-O-Crat): Basket companies love to apply English names with a hint of class. I think I'd be happier with a Kensington Market basket, which would be loaded with goodies like empanadas, dried beans, Jamaican bread pudding, baked goods, etc.

Decorator's Choice (Nutcracker Sweet): $125 of sweets and salmon pate in a plain black leather box. Unless it's for magazine storage, I fail to see the decorating connection. Maybe a deluxe, silver-plated paint tray?

Fond Of You (Peter and Paul's): Fondue. Ha ha.


All of this inspires the Warehouse to create its own line of baskets, that capture markets ignored by most basket-makers.

The 1960s Home Chef Basket
* One tin of Spam
* Three packages of Jell-O (orange, lime, strawberry)
* One container of Miracle Whip, with a special 1965-era label
* One can of creamed corn
* One large package of Velveeta
* One tin sliced pineapple with heavy syrup
* One package of Warehouse FinestTM Frankfurters with Extra Nitrates
* One bottle of Dexedrine
* A reprint of Better Homes & Gardens Jiffy Cooking (1967)(see here for more details).

The 1970s Home Chef Basket
* One fondue pot
* One bar of Gruyere cheese
* One box of Lasagne Hamburger Helper
* One can of Tab
* One bottle of Baby Duck
* One bag of Earth Goddess Crunchy Granola
* Three packages of Warehouse FinestTM Plain Gelatin
* One can fruit cocktail in heavy syrup
* One Warehouse FinestTM Riche Quiche Mix
* "101 Ways to Make Fondue and Aspic" cookbook

Factor the Fear Basket
* One can Warehouse FinestTM Earthworms with Italian Herbs
* One can Warehouse FinestTM Beetles in Ginger Soy Marinade
* One can Warehouse FinestTM Grubs in Tex-Mex Sauce
* One box Warehouse FinestTM Breaded Lemon-Pepper Rattlesnake
* One bag Warehouse FinestTM Gummy Spiders with Real Tarantula Legs
* One pint cobra venom
* One airplane sickness bag - JB

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