June 16, 2005
I've been getting into "Laffy Taffy" lately, it's a tasty candy that comes with two small riddles on each wrapper (and that tends to leave your tongue in some amazing shades). The jokes are pretty hit-or-miss. Generally miss. One I did like was "When is a car not a car? When it turns into a driveway", although I think that it was mostly nostalgia for the Princess Diana one-liner "Did you hear about the princess who stayed out past midnight and turned into a pillar?" which is both wonderfully macabre, as well as literate, referencing both Cinderella and the Book of Genesis. Then of course are some that sort of play with the form: "Why did the girl run into the door? She forgot to open it."
I was kind of offended by the illogic of one, however: "Why is a baker mean? Because he beats the bread." First off, it might be a little funny if "beating the bread" was actually a common expression. (Hm, it sounds kind of like an euphemism as it is...not appropriate for a product aimed at kids!) Second, it seems to be mixing up cause-and-effect about the mean-ness of the baker...he beats the bread because he's mean, not the other way around. Though maybe for the sake brevity the joke is a bit loose with its grammar, and it should be "How do you know a baker is mean?"
UPDATE: Catherine pointed out that bakers are known for beating dough, not bread, which I meant to point out. But tha reminds me, this seems like the bastardization of a much better joke, Why Do Bakers Rob Banks? Because they knead the dough. Now THAT joke is reasonably clever.
Hmm. "Laffy Taffy" is a "Willy Wonka" product...it's an interesting idea, a real brand having its roots in fiction. (In this case, the book and then the movie.) I guess you see the same thing happening with Harry Potter spinoffs, like "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans". It seems like something must surely be lacking when superlative fictional products are being translated into the real world. Anyway, can anyone think of other examples of fictional brands brought to life? (Saying "brands" leaves out some obvious prop-knockoffs, like fake Light Sabres from Star Wars...) I guess there is "US Robotics" -- I don't know if they were influenced by Asimov's "US Robotics and Mechanical Men". There's another example that's on the tip of my tongue, a recent tech company, but I can't quite place it.