Monday, March 12, 2012

When I use a word ...

I've long been interested in the role of official definitions in standardizing meaning and potentially aiding (or deceiving) consumers. Aaron Bobrow-Strain, in his enjoyable White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf (I received a free review copy through LibraryThing), offers an illustrative example from the past:
Early market research showed that bread buyers harbored deep-seated suspicions about enriched bread claims. Before the government made mandatory enrichment the norm, many housewives confused the word "enriched" with "richness," assuming vitaminized bread was more fattening than regular loaves. Some believed that enriched bread was a medicinal product best reserved for sick family members, while others simply dismissed "enriched" as a meaningless advertising word. (117)
Sounds a lot like "organic," pre-USDA regulation.

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