A Conservative and a Pudding Cup

By Derrick

The other day I was eating a pudding cup. Not an extraordinary activity in itself, but a specific revelation came to me as I pried open the lid, which led to another thought, and another, and another until I came to one of those great realizations that arrive suddenly and enact a mild transformation upon one’s perception of the universe. Such revelations should be recorded and preserved if for nothing more than a tribute to their pleasing nature and rarity.

It started with the familiar difficulty of opening a pudding cup effectively. This particular one was no different than the usual pudding cup, except perhaps that it came from a package that tended to overly sticky lids. The foil almost always ripped instead of peeling sweetly back from the plastic rim of the container. (I knew this because I had conducted adequate investigation into most of the fairly large package of chocolate pudding cups.) This particular defect caused a fairly serious problem that any peruser of the pudding cup can anticipate: one of the chief joys of pudding cups being the initial removal of the pudding that has adhered to the foil top. This is best done by the tongue, which does double duty as both a cleaning agent and entryway into the digestive system; because, by marvelous design, the property of pudding which causes it to stick to the lid of the pudding cup also causes it to remove itself and adhere to the human tongue. Need I add that this is a symbiotic system of immense enjoyment to people like myself. Anyone who does not lick the lid of their pudding cup has no place in my esteem.

The thought hit me as the lid once again ripped disappointingly in a diagonal from one of the rounded square corners: surely somebody could design a lid that did not rip. I am accustomed to blame such mild problems on the lack of dedication in others, but I soon realized that there were probably more important things than the perfect pudding cup lid. My consciousness expanded, however, along the same direction in which it had aligned its first movement.

Any member of my generation or a following one has become fully accustomed to the changing nature of American consumer culture. We expect things to change every ten years or so. If a product stays the same it must be failing, such is the implicit idea paraded forcefully into our heads by every advertisement, each new year’s model, every monthly special, every new movement of fashion or entertainment, every retrofit of an old restaurant, every new logo design, everything. We love to re-envision things, products, and processes; and we love those who do it for us. “Make it new!” we cry the old cry. And the pudding cup is decidedly not new. It is as old as I am. It must be, for I remember pulling off the lids and licking them clean as one of the primeval rituals of my childhood existence.

And I thought, “why hasn’t anyone redesigned the container for pudding?” Surely there is a better, more efficient way to package chocolate pudding that does not involve such a cumbersome opening and so much wasted packaging. Immediately I thought it I took it back, but thoughts do not take back; they only forget. So I decided to make the best of it and learn something. Because the reason that I wanted to take it back was because I realized that it was exactly the inefficiency of the pudding cup that gave it the great advantage of unusual consumption. If the pudding did not stick to the lid, that simple, enjoyable moment at the beginning of every snack would be lost.

And this, I think, is the heart of the conservative value system. We want people to adapt to difficult situations, we don’t want the situations to be perfectly accommodated to us. We want the individual to make the best of life before we let our government (or other institution) reform the whole system. But of course this sounds heartless when one is talking about anything other than a pudding cup. If we say that we want people to adapt to poverty, for example, we become monsters. “The poverty-stricken just need to learn how to better manage their money; with hard work and determination, I’m sure they can have a decent life in those circumstances, or perhaps even make their life better.” Ugh. You can’t say that. Not in this day and age. The poor deserve a helping hand, they need fairer wages, caring bosses. They need health insurance.

Despite instances of injustice, as a conservative, I usually find myself satisfied with the current system. I would almost always rather learn to get by than to give my government the power to fix it. I would rather they just stay out of it. I recognize that this can be a character flaw, but I also see its strength. I still stand by it. I would rather learn to lick the lid of the pudding cup than redesign the cup with a lid that could not be licked.

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About Derrick

Derrick lives and works in South Carolina where he teaches English at a technical college and raises his two small children with his wife, Danielle.
This entry was posted in Conservatism, Ideology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Conservative and a Pudding Cup

  1. YouAreRidiculous says:

    You conclude that you are happy with the basic design of the pudding cup…that you would rather adjust your behavior and potentially even improve the experience by licking the pudding off of the lid. What about the pudding cup with the lid that rips, preventing you from the satisfaction of licking the lid and potentially even putting your tongue in danger? Your musings took you too far into the abstract leading you to determine that you don’t want change, you want adaptation (not just for you, for everyone) when the initial problem still exists. You are potentially putting everything at risk because you are too damn philosophical and probably because you have enough money to just buy another pudding cup if you can’t lick the lid of the first.

    Anyway, the government is way ahead of you: http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-hunts-snack-pack-squeez-n-i243774

    • Logan says:

      What are the risk and dangers you speak of? I am totally ignorant of your thought process and your basic assumptions of life, government, and man. Explain– otherwise you’re just talking past everyone who reads that comment.

  2. YouAreRidiculous says:

    I was joking more or less. I am addressing the terrible risk of cutting ones tongue on the potentially poisonous torn pudding cup lid! I’m not that serious about the risk, but I am seriously pointing out a flaw in the way that Derrick argued. He abandoned the discussion of the original problem (the torn pudding cup lid) for a discussion of something that wasn’t really a problem at all (pudding cup design in general). His conclusion that the government need not be involved followed a relatively detailed description of why current pudding cup design isn’t that bad, particularly because it gives him the opportunity to lick the lid. The initial problem was the torn lid, something that seems like it could be an analog to a real problem that people actually suffer as a result of. His conclusion only applied to the abstract non-issue of pudding cup design in general and completely failed to address the analog of the thing that governmental policy could potentially change for the better.

    I guess I feel like there wasn’t much to his conclusion. It would be like if I began by complaining about the problem of homelessness and how the homeless are filling the subways and then went on to state that I don’t feel the need for the government to get involved because even though the subway is sometimes slightly off schedule and it isn’t the cleanest, I don’t have to drive and I can read while I go to work. Is it just a non sequitur or is Derrick doing something more sinister? We probably won’t ever know, but I plan on involving the government!

    (This is Ryan, if you didn’t already know)

    • Derrick says:

      I misrepresented the original problem. It’s not that the lid rips: it’s that it’s an inefficient system in general. And you’re right. They’re replacing them with those god-awful sqeezable monstrosities.

      The point was that my initial reaction (“somebody should fix this”) was immediately recognized by myself as contradictory to my general political/cultural attitude.

  3. Pingback: Some More Thoughts About Pudding | Idle Log

  4. Logan says:

    By danger– I wasn’t concern with pudding. Ryan, your new comment clarified everything. I was fishing for that underlining principle you had and I like what has emerged.

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