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Slices of Life - It's all on the label

November 23, 2012
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

Last weekend, my husband headed out on errands with a number of important items on his list. Toilet paper was one of them. There's a household product you don't want to run short on.

He returned home from the store, toilet paper in hand. There was only one problem. He got double quilted double rolls. I always buy mega soft triple rolls.

This wasn't a deal breaker. (At least he didn't get single ply single rolls.) Toilet paper is toilet paper. One would think. Until one navigates the labyrinth otherwise known as the toilet paper aisle and confronts the array of options available to the average consumer. Super absorbent, ultra strong, gentle care, recycled, aloe softness, single, double and triple rolls abound. With packages stacked from floor to ceiling, the aisle is long and the choices vast.

When purchasing toilet paper, one thing is certain. You gotta pay attention.

That goes for shopping in general.

It's no longer sufficient to compile a grocery list made up of simple words like orange juice, shampoo and toothpaste. You've got to include terms like low pulp, calcium enriched, maximum volume, anti frizz, color enhancing, super moisturizing, tartar control and extra whitening clean mint gel. Words sell; the people who make the labels are keen on this fact.

When you arrive at the superstore, you'll see the information is right there, spelled out for you. Not on the back of the can, jar or box where you'll find the facts about nutrition and serving size. I'm talking about the front label the location for a plethora of extraneous exclamations New! Improved! Low Fat! Zero calories! for any avid consumer who pays attention.

Sometimes, I do not. Pay attention, that is. For instance, once I came home with low sodium green beans. The package was identical to a regular can of green beans, except for two small, but significant words: low sodium. I am aware that low sodium products are a healthy choice, however, low sodium green beans are lacking one thing besides salt: flavor.

The green bean fiasco taught me an important lesson. Grocery shopping is best not completed on autopilot. Paying attention is mandatory. Details matter.

Just down the aisle from green beans, canned fruit comes packed in water, fruit juice, heavy syrup or calorie-free syrup take your pick. And mind you do so with care.

Vanilla ice cream may seem like a basic and yummy choice. But now we have the opportunity (or burden?) of choosing between New York, French, natural, homestyle, sugar-free and lactose-free. They're all vanilla and all available in the freezer case.

I find myself in an indecisive conundrum every time I confront the length of the pet food section of the store. Healthy weight, active adult, indoor cat, sensitive system and hairball formula which to choose? To complicate matters, I'm not sure what my cat prefers: salmon, tuna, chicken or beef. If only cats could speak

When I was a kid, vanilla was vanilla and pet food came in two varieties: kibble and canned. Tuna was packed in oil and you had no choice but to buy your eggs in the shell. All soup came condensed in a can with a red and white label and milk was milk without any percentage points.

Today we have more choices and with choice comes responsibility. A hasty grab from the grocery shelves may leave you with low sodium green beans in your cupboard. Or, worse yet, single ply toilet paper in your bathroom.

There are worse outcomes. At least when it comes to toilet paper. Single ply beats out at least one option I can think of. Super stores and super choices aside, when it comes to how things roll in your bathroom, anything's better than running out.

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like (please). Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Email her at; or visit her website at



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