An Open Letter to Swanson Steamfresh products “The Age of Sauce Is Upon Us”

Thought: Why do we call them ‘Corn Mazes’? What fool overlooked the hilarious opportunity for it to be a “Maize Maze”?

Dear Swanson Steamfresh,

As I write this I am witnessing my husband’s face contort in a wildly amusing way. I might say I could have told you so to him, but that would only create marital strife, and quite frankly we are only two or three misplaced words away from dueling to the death on the eaves trough of our new house.

His face is contorting partially because, in an effort to rid himself of what is a remarkable and intense, I hesitate to use the word ‘flavour’, he has opted to pour himself a generous portion of scotch whiskey, which I purchased for him after starting my new job as a sort of thank you for being such a loving and supportive husband and refusing my offers to duel on the eaves trough of the house.

He has poured himself this generous portion of whiskey because he just ate a small bite of your “Flavor Full” Barbeque Sweet Corn product and it has not agreed with him.

I understand that we live in the Age of Sauce, Swansons. Much like a Ritolin Riddled Millennial, we ask that all pre-packaged foods come doused in succulent, varied flavours to ensure that we are not bored by the process of eating. Heaven forbid boredom should set in – we might fall asleep, our heads swallowed by our Hungry Man meals, mashed potatoes inhaled into our sinuses and suffocating us before we’d have a chance to reach for the paprika to remedy the sheer, unadulterated boredom that is eating.

But really, does everything need a sauce? Am I so incapable of squeezing a lemon or reaching for that bottle of Artisnal BBQ sauce that I purchased from the local farmer’s market that you must take it upon yourself to slather my frozen vegetables with this shlock? What’s worse is that it isn’t even interesting BBQ sauce. You add it to your product to encourage the eating of vegetables and, I presume, corn. But here’s the thing, Swanson. No one is prepared to admit that corn is the single most god-awful vegetable in the face of the planet. Corn was not made to be consumed in its natural form. Why else have we turned it into syrup and bread? because it’s a fucking disaster of a vegetable! In order to eat it properly the average human requires years of extensive orthodontic and dental intervention, and even then the minute you have one kernel stuck between your teeth it becomes a crisis, with mom piling all the kids into the car at 7:30 at night to make an emergency trip to the dentist just so you can have the damn thing surgically removed.

Corn is not the friend of mankind, and no amount of BBQ sauce will ever make it so. Even  my own special reserve of artisanal sauce made from the blood of wild horses that were slaughtered under the full moon can’t make corn palatable. It’s an impossibility, so please, do us all a favour and stop trying to make sauce-ridden corn happen. It isn’t going to happen. At least when I steam my own corn I can douse it with rye whiskey and set it on fire. that makes it marginally more edible. Try doing that with your saucesational BBQ and Sweet Corn. You can’t, can you? Because whatever is in that BBQ sauce is an affront to nature itself and consumes fire to gain strength. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that my garbage can has melted into the foundation of the house after my husband disposed of the bag.

I guess what I am getting at here, Swanson, is that you don’t have to douse everything in sauce. Potato wedges can just be potato wedges. Non-specific-type-of-Asian-Medley can just be a non-specific-type-of-Asian-Medley (I’ll save that for another open letter, although my guess is you know what I am going to say, and if you don’t I would suggest you google ‘Asia’ and then ‘regional cuisine’ and tell me how many of those countries actually utilize baby corn in their meals.)

You know what I do like, Swansons? Your Pure & Simple frozen veggies. I don’t feel like in my wild attempts to create a balanced meal I will somehow have to create a meat sensation that somehow compliments the strange, fanciful saucy veg that you have prepackaged for me. If I want to make my Russian Prince Salt Chicken, which is delicious by the way, I will have no concerns about it clashing with your Broccoli Florets because those florets are sauce free. Unlike the Buffalo Cauliflower which, speaking as someone who has never eaten a buffalo before, seems poorly named. I know you worry about us, and you worry that we aren’t eating enough greens, but trust me, we will if you only give us the chance. Like reluctant parents finally giving their 18-year-old the keys to the car, you have to give us some responsibility so we can prove ourselves. Yes, we are capable of seasoning our own vegetables. Yes, we can decide how much salt we want to put on the green beans. Yes, we can. Let us go, Swanson. Let us fly.

And here’s another thing. “Flavour Full”. Really? Really? That’s what you’re going with? Perhaps it is the savvy consumer in me, but I want to know what you’re trying to hide by calling these bags of sauces “Flavour Full” instead of “Flavorful”. Is it because the sauce to vegetable ratio is so lopsided? Is it because what you have included in these products can’t be called ‘flavour’ so much as ‘artificially enhanced spice dollops’?  No one thinks that is witty, Swanson. If anything, the lack of concern for the English language is disturbing. You’re already on thin ice with your Salisbury Steak Hungry Man Meal – don’t push your luck by desicrating a word as simple as ‘flavourful’. You know what would have been a good name for them? Swanson’s Steamfresh Flavour Punched Vegetables. Because then I imagine someone punching an ear of corn and that fills me in a way that frozen vegetables never can.

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