prize 1 n.
1. Something offered or won as an award for superiority or victory, as in a contest or competition.
2. Something worth striving for; a highly desirable possession. source: The American Heritage Dictionary
Right, So I opened up a bag of Cracker Jack yesterday with the understanding that there would be a “prize” inside. I didn’t find a “prize”, per se, but I did find I piece of paper with two slits in it and two cartoonish bumble bees printed on it. It was presented to me as a “pencil-topper”. Here is the instruction that came with it:
Now this instruction was confusing for me, as there was no “prize” in the bag. All there was was this detachable piece of paper with the slits and the bees printed on it. I thought that perhaps the pencil was the intended prize, and that the honest folks at Frito-Lay simply neglected to include one in my bag. The grammatical structure of the instructions, however, did not lend itself easily to this interpretation. Had the pencil been the prize, the instructions probably would have read:
To use your pencil, just detach this piece of paper with the slits and the bees and insert the prize through the slits as shown below.
There were practical difficulities as well. Why, for example, would the fine folks at Frito-Lay instruct us put this piece of paper on the tops of our prize pencils? It seemed to serve no purpose other than to distract me as I wrote. It certainly didn’t improve either the legibility or the quality of my writing. Furthermore, I felt the paper could be put to better use. I could, for example, use the pencil to write something that I wished to remember onto the paper. Perched upon the other end of my pencil, however, I found the paper’s functionality to be quite limited.
So what’s the deal? I opened this bag of Cracker Jack with the understanding that there would be a prize inside, but there was no prize. There was only this piece of paper.
The more cynical side of my personality would accuse the fine people at Frito-Lay of fraud and false advertising. Under this theory, they made an advertising claim that their products contained a “prize”. They then included these pieces of paper instead, in the hope their customers would daftly accept them as the prizes. If this were the case, Frito-Lay would almost certainly be held liable in a class-action lawsuit, brought by irate customers who were unjustly sold a bill of goods.
I wouldn’t go that far. I’m not ready to accuse the nice people at Frito-Lay of that sort of bad-faith manipulation. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and leave it at simple breach of contract. In this instance, I was offered a “prize” upon the purchase of the Cracker Jack, and Frito-Lay failed to deliver. Since Frito-Lay and I have built up such a good business relationship, I’m willing to take a loss on this deal. But if this sort of thing becomes a pattern, I’m going to have to recoup my losses somehow. A lawsuit might be on the table…..