Imprisoned in a shortcrust pastry

July 12, 2020

I love inventive names for ordinary things.

Take summer houses.

Victorian potting huts.

Log cabins.

So much more aspirational than just ‘shed’. So chic. So now.


It is just a shed with some pink paint isn’t it?

Yes, but if you’re selling one, you can probably add a zero.

The best cases of inventive descriptions are restaurant menus.


‘Pan-fried breaded goujons of cod nestling stop a sumptuous bed of creamy dill mash.’

(Fish fingers and mash, mate.)

Over the years, I’ve come across some common themes:

🍟Anything that implies hard work, toil and sweat – ‘twice cooked chips’

🍿Anything organic or artisan – popcorn, marshmallows, coffee

🥩Anything with a place name – ‘steak with a Madagascar pepper sauce’

Or just the blatant addition of ‘luxury’, ‘gourmet’ or ‘deluxe’. Some just hang it all and go for all three.

I think these words make the buying process all the more tantalising.

Generally, we want to be sold to. We want to want something. It’s part of the pleasure of hunting and gathering. And as sellers, we have to stand out somehow.

It reminds me of this most excellent story told by the fabulous Tamsin Henderson on LinkedIn recently about journalist Rob Walker who bought a second-hand plastic horse’s head on eBay for $0.99. He then asked a professional writer to come up with a short story for it and relisted it on eBay. It sold for $62.95.

Tamsin puts it much better than me: “You have nothing to lose by swirling context and narrative into whatever you’re selling. Everything has a story. All you’re doing is giving your customers extra dimension. And if that helps them make a decision. So be it.”

As Steve Jobs said: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

And showing them is all part of the fun.

What are your favourite OTT food or product descriptions?

July 12, 2020

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