Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day Old Pastries and the Evolution of a Sign

In this post, I am going to admit to a strange obsession of mine.  Maybe obsession isn't the right word (past time might be a better characterization), but let's get on with it.  I really enjoy reading signs, and thinking about what went through the author's mind to convince himself to make and post a sign.  This is incredibly trivial, but it is also incredibly commonplace... so maybe it is not so trivial.

Anyway, last June (June 23rd to be exact), I noticed this sign near a rack of day old pastries at Walmart.

The sign caught my eye because it seemed incredibly genuine.  The sign looked like it was made in a hurry after some worker made way too many doughnuts to sell the previous day.  I could just see the manager telling one of the workers to quickly make a sign to let customers know about the great deal they could get on some slightly stale pastries... and then in the hasty construction of the sign, they didn't make enough o's for "too."

Flash forward two months.  On August 25th, I was walking by the same spot in Walmart.  By now, the bakery apparently made a habit of of making too many baked goods.  The sign was spelled correctly, and laminated, but the sign still looked locally produced.  It also still contained the word "oops."  Amused by the change, I snapped a picture.  Maybe the bakery realized the benefits of a peculiar form of price discrimination. That is, make too much on day 1, and use the staleness to give bargain seekers a discount.

In case you're wondering if that was the end of the evolution of the sign, it was not.  Just 10 days ago (March 16), I was walking by the same spot in Walmart, and I noticed this really nice professional sign on the day old pastry rack:

This is a sharp-looking sign!  And, notice that they dropped the "oops."

In my mind, what started as a mistake that workers frantically tried to cover up with a homemade sign became profitable enough to justify making a high-quality sign to announce to the world that there's a bargain to be had.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think this is incredibly entertaining.


  1. Any predictions for the next stage in the evolution of the sign?

    1. It would be great if they added flashing lights, but I'm guessing this is the final version of the sign.

  2. The final stage is to come full circle with an "Oops! We didn't make enough!" sign for whenever their day-old rack is emptied :)

  3. Your post reminds me of the short story 'A Sign in Space' from Italo Calvino's collection, 'Cosmicomics'. You should read it if you have not already.


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