Living next door to a Ralphs has an infinite number of advantages. When we first moved in, a friend described it as being as if we only need to reach slightly further into our fridge and any product our hearts desire, Oreo Pie, Gushers, Bacon, would be available. But just as nice is the convenient access to products such as pet food. Many is the night where my meager purchases on register twelve have been made far more pathetic by the addition of one or two cans of cat food to keep the cat happy: buying a bottle of vodka says you’ll be having a wild night carousing with friends, buying a bottle of vodka and a can of cat food means the cashiers start running a pool about when they’re going to see you being led away in just your handcuffs and some underwear. Ralphs has a Pet Club, which means you enter in your phone number before each purchase, and once you’ve bought one hundred dollars of cat food, you get a coupon for 9 dollars off your next pet purchase. They then sell your contact information to pet food manufacturers so that you can find out about the wide variety of pet products that you didn’t know you needed. Such as the following box that arrived in my mail a few weeks ago:
The embossed gold seal that held the package shut is not reflected well in this photo, but it was there. Presumably, the sticker manufacturer thought that they were creating the dainty “FF” stickers for, say, the Ford-Fuller Wedding. But no, it is for the new Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys collection, a delightful collection of outrageous Cat Foods that your cat needs right away.
Our cat eats Fancy Feast food, and out of the one hundred and thirteen available flavors of Fancy Feast, he will eat 2. His preferred flavor is pictured above: Sliced Chicken Hearts and Liver Feast in Gravy. They used to make a Salmon and Tuna Filet and Pate flavor, but they stopped making that, so he now occasionally accepts Salmon and Shrimp. Evidently the head honcho of Fancy Feast knows that he has a loyal, if unwillingly so, customer, and decided that if he could feed our cat one of his new Elegant Medley cat foods, he might be able to bump us up into a higher bracket of cat purchasing, one where we’d be forced to serve our cat out of crystal goblets, instead of the plastic goblets we currently use.
The tri-fold packaging indicated that three categories of cat food were part of the Elegant Medleys collection Florentines, Souffles and Shredded Fare. It also indicates the proper method of serving the dishes, with appropriate garnishes. It is a safe bet that many of you out there have owned a cat, and that many of you have owned a cat that eventually died. This was because you did not serve the appropriate garnishes on the side of the dishes you fed your cat. For shame.
The can they sent us was White Meat Chicken Florentine in a “Delicate Sauce” with Garden Greens. First of all, I am not sure what Florentine means. I am aware of Souffles, although I do not consume them regularly, and shredded fare speaks for itself. Florentine sounds like a kind of style, and I was surprised that it got its own category. But then again, the people at Fancy Feast probably expected this type of ignorance from a non-elegant cat food purchaser such as myself. I wouldn’t know a delicate sauce if I woke up soaking in one.
Nervously, I let my cat inspect the packaging, as if it were a menu, and later fed him the can. This must be how most parents feel the first time they take their kids to a McDonalds: “Please be allergic to this or I’m going to be eating it every week for the next dozen years.” He rejected it, and after the Elegant Medley Collection showed up on our shelves a few weeks later, I am very grateful. They cost 93 cents per can, compared to the 73 cent and frequently on sale Chicken Hearts and Liver. Feeding him an Elegant Medley every day would have more than likely meant resorting to Elegant Medleys myself in the future.
Then just yesterday we were at the store and in the tomato sauce aisle, I turned and saw a can of the legendary Potted Meat Food Product:
Total cost to the consumer, who is evidently expected to purchase it unironically and actually eat it: 37 cents. Close to half the cost of regular Fancy Feast, and close to one third the cost of the Elegant Medleys collection. Meat Byproducts is the first ingredient listed on Potted Meat, and the Fifth on Fancy Feast. What that means about the world we live in is something that, like the existence of god, everyone is going to come to terms with on their own. It’s already resulted in one sleepless night for myself.