[Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

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[Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:32 am

A company added a single letter to the packaging on one of their products - and sales immediately plummeted.

They removed the letter, and sales returned to their original levels.

What happened?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:33 pm

Was it a typo? Accidental, deliberate, something else?

Online or actual shop?

Was the letter added to the brand name of the product, the name of the actual product (e.g. peas, carrots), the description, the instructions, something else?

Was this in English, or a foreign language, if so which one, relevant?

Type of product: food, hardware, clothing, medicine, other?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:42 pm

Was it a typo? No. Accidental, deliberate, something else? Deliberate.

Online or actual shop? Neither.

Was the letter added to the brand name of the product, the name of the actual product (e.g. peas, carrots), the description, the instructions, something else? Something else.

Was this in English, or a foreign language, if so which one, relevant? English.

Type of product: food, hardware, clothing, medicine, other? Food.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:45 pm

Did sales plummet because of customer anger? Confusion? Stupidity? Prejudice? Because of retailers? Automated systems? Did they add the letter to the product name?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby peter365 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:16 pm

Did the additional letter result in something inadvertently controversial?

Are ingredients relevant? E numbers?

Did the extra letter create doubt as to the products quality? safety? origin? where it was produced?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:54 pm

Product = tangible product, service, component? other?
Supplier of products to a trade? (eg flour to the baking trade)?
Did the letter give the impression it was a different product? An inferior one? One they didn't recognise? Singular/plural? Letter S?
The letter: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ?
Was it the barcode?
As well as the packaging, did id they change the letter in the product listing, catalogue, form, label, on the product itself?
Relevant what kind of packaging it came in?
Did it change the spelling? The meaning? Imply it was an inferior product?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:09 pm

From peter365:

Did the additional letter result in something inadvertently controversial? No.

Are ingredients relevant? Yope. E numbers? No.

Did the extra letter create doubt as to the products quality? safety? origin? where it was produced? None of these.

From invisiblemimsy:

Product = tangible product, service, component? other? Tangible product
Supplier of products to a trade? (eg flour to the baking trade)? No
Did the letter give the impression it was a different product? Do you mean that it would be confused with a specific different product, or simply that the package no longer perfectly matched the contents? An inferior one? No. One they didn't recognise? No. Singular/plural? No. Letter S? No.
The letter: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ? D.
Was it the barcode? No.
As well as the packaging, did id they change the letter in the product listing Probably not, but I don't know for sure, catalogue Probably not, but I don't know for sure, form Probably not, but I don't know for sure, label No, on the product itself? No.
Relevant what kind of packaging it came in? No.
Did it change the spelling? No. The meaning? The meaning of what? Imply it was an inferior product? No.
Last edited by Yerushalmi on Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:24 pm

Oops! Sorry, I missed this set:

GalFisk wrote:Did sales plummet because of customer anger? No. Confusion? No. Stupidity? No. Prejudice? No. Because of retailers? No. Automated systems? No. Did they add the letter to the product name?No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Balin » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:03 pm

Did the letter give the impression it was a different product? That the package no longer matched the contents?
Sorry, had to...
Did the letter change one word into another word? Did the letter replace another letter?
Is Vitamin D relevant? Sunny D?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:36 am

Did the letter give the impression it was a different product? No. That the package no longer matched the contents? No.
Sorry, had to... Don't apologize, I'd have done the same! But you phrased the second question slightly differently than I did, which meant the answers ended up the same. See below.
Did the letter change one word into another word? No. Did the letter replace another letter? No.
Is Vitamin D relevant? No. Sunny D? No.



In the interests of not being a jerk, I will answer and ask the question both ways:
    Did the letter give the impression that the package no longer perfectly matched the contents? No.
    As a result of adding the letter, did the package no longer perfectly match the contents? Yes.
A subtle difference but a crucial one.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Zanreo » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:11 am

Added to the ingredients list? Some kind of measurement relevant?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:13 am

Zanreo wrote:Added to the ingredients list? No. Some kind of measurement relevant? No.


I'm starting to feel awful about this. I haven't given a single "yes" answer except to the question that I asked myself.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby peter365 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:15 pm

Are search engine results relevant?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:27 pm

peter365 wrote:Are search engine results relevant?

No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby JenBurdoo » Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:47 am

I have an idea on this one - PM sent.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:14 am

Did they intend for sales to plummet? Could they have foreseen it? Was the product relevantly sold online? In general stores? Specialty stores? By salespeople for this particular product? Over the phone? Did customers decidr whether to buy it or not by looking at the packaging? Did buyers usualle set out with the intent to buy this particular product? To buy any product like it? Was it usually bought on impulse?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:57 am

GalFisk wrote:Did they intend for sales to plummet? No. Could they have foreseen it? Yes. Was the product relevantly sold online? No. In general stores? Yes. Specialty stores? No. By salespeople for this particular product? No. Over the phone? No. Did customers decidr whether to buy it or not by looking at the packaging? Yes. Did buyers usualle set out with the intent to buy this particular product? Yes. To buy any product like it? Yes. Was it usually bought on impulse? No.


Getting somewhere now :)
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:23 am

Is it food? Drink? Electronics? A tool? Packaged in a box? Can? Bag? Net? Bottle? Foil? Paper? Clamshell? Is it sold in bulk? By weight? Is it to be stored cold? Dry? Frozen? Is it reusable? Resellable? Perishable?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:00 pm

GalFisk wrote:Is it food? Yes. Drink? No. Electronics? No. A tool? No. Packaged in a box? No. Can? No. Bag? No. Net? No. Bottle? No. Foil? Yes, a plastic foil-like thing wrapped around a plastic tray. The details aren't important. Paper? No. Clamshell? No. Is it sold in bulk? No. By weight? No. Is it to be stored cold? Some people like it better cold. Dry? Yes. Frozen? No. Is it reusable? No. Resellable? I guess? Who's going to stop me? :) Perishable?Yes.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:17 pm

Was it served in a vending machine? A restaurant, cafe etc? I know it was written in English, but relevant which country? Japan? Is it a snack, a meal, a drink, sweets, something else? Was it the ingredient list that was changed? Nutritional values? calories, allergies?

Dye/dyed?
Flavour/flavoured? (In the UK, 'strawberry flavour' means that there are no strawberries in it, only chemicals which taste like strawberry. 'Strawberry flavoured' means that actual strawberries were used.)
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby JenBurdoo » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:43 pm

Dietary restrictions relevant?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:13 pm

invisiblemimsy wrote:Was it served in a vending machine? No. A restaurant, cafe etc? No. I know it was written in English, but relevant which country? Not really. Japan? No. Is it a snack, a meal, a drink, sweets, something else? Snack. Was it the ingredient list that was changed? No. Nutritional values? No. calories, allergies? No.

Dye/dyed? No.
Flavour/flavoured? No. (In the UK, 'strawberry flavour' means that there are no strawberries in it, only chemicals which taste like strawberry. 'Strawberry flavoured' means that actual strawberries were used.) Seriously?! That cannot possibly be intuitive.


JenBurdoo wrote:Dietary restrictions relevant? Yes.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:33 pm

Gluten, vegan, vegetarian, wheat, nut, soya, sugar, vitamins, halal, kosher, honey, eggs, milk/lacto, something else?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:07 pm

invisiblemimsy wrote:Gluten, vegan, vegetarian, wheat, nut, soya, sugar, vitamins, halal, kosher, honey, eggs, milk/lacto, something else?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:02 pm

Was the letter D added to the end of the word? beginning? somewhere in the middle? Substituted for a different letter, e.g. 'dream' vs 'cream'?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:10 am

I don't see an answer to mimsy's series of restrictions?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby biograd » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:04 am

It looks like "kosher" and "milk/lacto" are slightly bold, though it's very faint

I know that the symbol for "contains dairy" on otherwise kosher foods is a D inside a circle. Is this relevant? Maybe the added D happened to coincide on the packaging with a circle that was there for some other reason, causing customers to mistake it for that symbol?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:12 am

invisiblemimsy wrote:Was the letter D added to the end of the word? beginning? somewhere in the middle? Substituted for a different letter, e.g. 'dream' vs 'cream'?


No to all.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:14 am

biograd wrote:It looks like "kosher" and "milk/lacto" are slightly bold, though it's very faint
It's the same bold I use everywhere else. I don't know why it's fainter than usual here. Must be a CSS thing.

I know that the symbol for "contains dairy" on otherwise kosher foods is a D inside a circle. Is this relevant? Your description of the symbol is not quite accurate, but the symbol is relevant. Maybe the added D happened to coincide on the packaging with a circle that was there for some other reason, causing customers to mistake it for that symbol? No, but that's actually a really neat idea!
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:10 am

So the D gave customers the false impression that the product contained dairy?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:46 am

Yes.

That's the central answer to the puzzle. What remains to be explained is:

1) Why was this a problem?

and

2) Why did the company add the D in the first place?

The answers to these two questions are partially intertwined.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:57 pm

Was it placed in a problematic place? Styled too close to the actual dairy mark? Was it added to indicate something? Advertise?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:00 pm

GalFisk wrote:Was it placed in a problematic place? No. Styled too close to the actual dairy mark? No. Was it added to indicate something? Yes. Advertise? No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby KayleeArafinwiel » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:35 pm

Did people assume the D was a letter grade?
Was it in fact a letter grade?

(Like in American schools, "D+", "D" and "D-" are lower than average, but better than failing "F" although D- is not much better at all. Or that's how it was when I was in school, and I never thought I'd say that. I iz a getting old kitteh...33 soon. Buh o_O)
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby biograd » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:17 am

It's possible there are different symbols in use--as I understand, Jewish certifying organizations each register their symbols as some kind of trademark, and then as they own the rights to the symbols, they can enforce whether food manufacturers can use them on any particular item. It's possible that different organizations use different ones.

The one I'm aware of looks very much like the "registered trademark" symbol, except instead of an "R" it's a "D". The two are in fact about the same size, and the letter inside is in a similar font.

So was the "D" on the food item part of a word or longer sequence of letters? placed off by itself? Was there anything that changed about the product that prompted adding the letter?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:08 am

KayleeArafinwiel wrote:Did people assume the D was a letter grade? No.
Was it in fact a letter grade? No.




biograd wrote:It's possible there are different symbols in use--as I understand, Jewish certifying organizations each register their symbols as some kind of trademark, and then as they own the rights to the symbols, they can enforce whether food manufacturers can use them on any particular item. It's possible that different organizations use different ones. This is correct.

The one I'm aware of looks very much like the "registered trademark" symbol, except instead of an "R" it's a "D". The two are in fact about the same size, and the letter inside is in a similar font. This is incorrect - no such symbol exists. You are probably thinking of the OU symbol.

So was the "D" on the food item part of a word or longer sequence of letters? No. placed off by itself? No. Was there anything that changed about the product that prompted adding the letter? No, but this is crucial.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:58 pm

Since the customers were now under the impression there was a dairy ingredient, wouldn't that now reduce the demand for the product? Because now, vegans won't touch it, lacto-intolerants won't touch it, and there will be reduced consumption amongst Jews? That would cause a drop in revenue. Is that the problem?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:49 pm

invisiblemimsy wrote:Since the customers were now under the impression there was a dairy ingredient, wouldn't that now reduce the demand for the product? Yes. Because now, vegans won't touch it, lacto-intolerants won't touch it, and there will be reduced consumption amongst Jews? This third one is the crucial one. That would cause a drop in revenue. Is that the problem?


The drop in sales was in fact rather massive, far more than the company expected. This is because the cookie in question (it's a cookie) was particularly popular for Jews who would eat it for dessert after meals containing meat. The moment the letter D was added next to the kashrut symbol, its Jewish clientele stopped buying it.

Almost done. The last bit is all that's left: why did they add it?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby biograd » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:56 pm

Sorry, I was confusing it with the OU symbol, because they are often right next to each other, and the letter D is a similar size to the U.

So was the D part of some kind of serial number? Or was it in fact meant to be the dairy symbol, but was on there due to a technicality that didn't actually indicate the presence of dairy?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:10 pm

biograd wrote:Sorry, I was confusing it with the OU symbol, because they are often right next to each other, and the letter D is a similar size to the U.

So was the D part of some kind of serial number? No. Or was it in fact meant to be the dairy symbol, but was on there due to a technicality that didn't actually indicate the presence of dairy? Yes.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby invisiblemimsy » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Did someone at the company simply think that there was dairy in the product and corrected the "error" he believed was there? Did the product contain eggs, and he thought eggs = dairy where Jews are concerned (which it doesn't)? Did they change the recipe to include eggs?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:58 pm

invisiblemimsy wrote:Did someone at the company simply think that there was dairy in the product and corrected the "error" he believed was there? No. Did the product contain eggs, and he thought eggs = dairy where Jews are concerned (which it doesn't)? No. Did they change the recipe to include eggs? No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Enjay » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:50 pm

Did the company add the symbol because they thought the product contained dairy? Thought it might be contaminated by dairy (eg produced in a factory that handled dairy?) Did they understand that the symbol meant "contains dairy"? Did they think they had to add the symbol? Did they think adding the symbol would increase sales? Were they aware that Jewish people were such a big portion of their sales? Did they think people might be more likely to buy the product if it contained dairy?

Did the recipe change at any relevant point? Had the recipe ever contained dairy?

Are the exact rules for kosher relevant? Is there a certain amount of dairy that a product can contain before it counts as having dairy?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:08 pm

Enjay wrote:Did the company add the symbol because they thought the product contained dairy? No. Thought it might be contaminated by dairy (eg produced in a factory that handled dairy?) No. Did they understand that the symbol meant "contains dairy"? Yes. Did they think they had to add the symbol? Yes. Did they think adding the symbol would increase sales? No. Were they aware that Jewish people were such a big portion of their sales? Yes and no - it's hard to judge. Did they think people might be more likely to buy the product if it contained dairy? No.

Did the recipe change at any relevant point? Mmmmmmaybe. Yes. No. Sort of. :twisted: Had the recipe ever contained dairy? No.

Are the exact rules for kosher relevant? No. Is there a certain amount of dairy that a product can contain before it counts as having dairy? Jewish law is very, very, very complicated - don't worry about this.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Enjay » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:44 pm

Did they think that their product would be considered by Jewish law to contain dairy, even though it didn't? Did they intend that people seeing the symbol would believe the product to contain dairy? Did they intend that Jewish people would stop buying it?

Was the product deliberately made to be dairy free/kosher? Relevant?

Did the name of one of the ingredients change?

Is it relevant how people consume the cookie? Did it have a relevant serving suggestion on it? Did they suggest it be consumed with a dairy product (eg "best served with ice cream")?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:09 pm

Enjay wrote:Did they think that their product would be considered by Jewish law to contain dairy, even though it didn't? No. Did they intend that people seeing the symbol would believe the product to contain dairy? Yes. Did they intend that Jewish people would stop buying it? No.

Was the product deliberately made to be dairy free/kosher? No. Relevant? No.

Did the name of one of the ingredients change? No.

Is it relevant how people consume the cookie? Yes, but not beyond what I already described about desserts in my earlier post. Did it have a relevant serving suggestion on it? No. Did they suggest it be consumed with a dairy product (eg "best served with ice cream")? No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby biograd » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:20 pm

Did the company anticipate that at some time in the future they might be forced to use a dairy ingredient in some batches of the cookie?

Alternatively, did they use an ingredient that was an imitation of something containing dairy, e.g. "cream" filling that was really just artificial flavoring? If so, did they think (wrongly in hindsight) that publicly admitting to using the artificial flavoring would drive away more customers (either for health reasons, or because of perceiving the food as lower quality for "not using the real thing") than its being labeled as kosher would attract?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:53 pm

biograd wrote:Did the company anticipate that at some time in the future they might be forced to use a dairy ingredient in some batches of the cookie? Close!

Alternatively, did they use an ingredient that was an imitation of something containing dairy, e.g. "cream" filling that was really just artificial flavoring? If so, did they think (wrongly in hindsight) that publicly admitting to using the artificial flavoring would drive away more customers (either for health reasons, or because of perceiving the food as lower quality for "not using the real thing") than its being labeled as kosher would attract? No.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Enjay » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:13 pm

More broadly, did they put the symbol on because the expected that in the future the product would require the symbol? And they didn't want to have to change the packaging later? They were testing what effect the symbol would have on sales?

Were they planning to change the recipe? Use different ingredients? Change the cooking process? If so, did they change these plans when they realised the dairy symbol had lost them sales?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:52 am

Enjay wrote:More broadly, did they put the symbol on because the expected that in the future the product would require the symbol? Yes. And they didn't want to have to change the packaging later? No. They were testing what effect the symbol would have on sales? No.

Were they planning to change the recipe? Yes. Use different ingredients? Yes. Change the cooking process? No. If so, did they change these plans when they realised the dairy symbol had lost them sales? Yes.


Pretty much done. Only the tiniest bit left: why they put the dairy symbol on in advance of the product actually becoming dairy.
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby GalFisk » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:25 pm

Did they do so in order to see how it affected sales? In order to warn people? Because they could no longer guarantee that the non-dairy products were dairy free? In order to prove that the new product would sell well?
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby Yerushalmi » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:04 am

GalFisk wrote:Did they do so in order to see how it affected sales? No. In order to warn people? Yes. Because they could no longer guarantee that the non-dairy products were dairy free? No. In order to prove that the new product would sell well? No.


And that's pretty much it, so:


************ SPOILERS **************

In 2002, the Stella D'Oro company decided that it wanted to replace the non-dairy chocolate they were using in their Swiss Fudge cookies with a less-expensive dairy version.

These cookies were known to be extremely popular among the Jewish community in the New York City area, because they were "pareve" - i.e., neither dairy nor meat - and therefore could be eaten as dessert after meals on Shabbat and holidays.

So when the company consulted the Orthodox Union about their plans, the OU told them that they needed to start labeling the product as dairy long in advance of the actual change in recipe. That way, by the time the cookies actually did contain dairy, Jewish people who bought them would already be used to the fact that they couldn't eat them with meat - thus preventing them from making a serious religious mistake.

However, this turned out to be a disaster. Merely by labeling the product as dairy - by adding the single, solitary D next to the kashrut symbol - sales dropped drastically. It turned out that the percentage of people who were buying the cookies with the specific purpose of eating them after meat meals was much higher than the company anticipated, easily wiping out any savings they'd have made by using dairy chocolate.

So the company canceled the intended move, removing the D from the packaging. Nothing had ever changed in the cookie itself - but that one letter was good enough to kill, then revive, sales.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/12/nyre ... ecipe.html

(Note: The article claims that the symbol was changed from OU-P to OU-D, which would be the replacement of a letter and not the addition of one, but if you scroll down to the correction you can see that OU-P is not actually the symbol used for Pareve foods. I can attest personally that the symbol used on the packaging at the time was indeed just OU.)
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Re: [Yerushalmi] Just One Letter

Postby irishelk » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:30 am

Interesting puzzle, thanks!
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