John Porter: Crunch time - bring on the bureaucrats

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Golden wonder, Lay's

Increasing the burden of red tape and bureaucracy is not something I'd normally argue in favour of, a sentiment I think most publicans would echo....

Increasing the burden of red tape and bureaucracy is not something I'd normally argue in favour of, a sentiment I think most publicans would echo.

However, there is one essential area of our national life which is clearly crying out for a clipboard-wielding, box-ticking, interfering army of faceless jobsworths to roll up their sleeves and get busy.

You know what I'm talking about. Crisp packets. More specifically, the colours which manufacturers use to communicate the flavour of crisp contained within.

The fact that Walkers sells salt & vinegar in green bags and cheese & onion in blue bags, while Golden Wonder reverses those colours, has made Britain a mockery in international snack circles for too long. Something has to be done.

We have a snack machine in the office, provided by The Publican's​ enlightened owners to ensure that those of us toiling away at the metaphorical coal face of business publishing can obtain sustenance without the inconvenience of needing to leave the building and endure the temptation of a cold pint and a warm pie - or vice versa - in a local hostelry.

This machine has always stocked Walkers crisps, with cheese & onion always on the top shelf, far left in its familiar blue packet. Put in the cash, key in code A0, job done.

You can guess what's coming. At some point in the past 24 hours the machine has been restocked. With Golden Wonder crisps. Today, when I bought my lunchtime bag of crisps, I purchased the familiar blue packet more-or-less on automatic pilot.

It was only once the machine had swallowed my change and dispensed my crisps, I discovered that what I had purchased was a packet of Golden Wonder salt & vinegar flavour. In the same blue as Walkers cheese & onion.

Not only had the imbecile who restocks the machine failed to communicate an important change in brand procurement policy, he (or she) had added insult to injury by putting a different flavour in the place always occupied by cheese & onion. But in the same blue colour - a point I know I keep stressing, but it goes to the heart of my complaint.

You can't argue with a machine, and you can't request a refund or exchange.

Caveat emptor, you might say. Golden Wonder clearly communicates the contents on the front of the bag. But I was in a hurry - and frankly, if I really had time for lunch, I wouldn't be buying crisps from a bloody machine in the first place

There is, I should hasten to add, nothing wrong with salt & vinegar as a flavour, or Golden Wonder as a brand. But today, it was cheese & onion I wanted.

Ironically, I grew up eating Golden Wonder cheese & onion in green bags - Walkers being unknown in London in the 1960s - and I've been known to sit on a barstool and explain at great length to anyone who will listen that green is the one true colour for cheese & onion.

I'm not sure why that should be. We'd all look strangely at a slice of actual cheese that was as green as a Golden Wonder packet, just as much as we'd turn up our nose at an orange roast chicken or a mauve rasher of smokey bacon. But as bag colours, they work.

Clearly, unless the teams from Walkers and Golden Wonder can get together and sort this out among themselves, a campaign for legally enforceable crisp bag colours seems inevitable.

The clock's ticking, guys. You know that every trading standards officer in the UK would love to have this fall within their remit. Don't give them the satisfaction.

Related topics: Legislation

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