Monday, 27 June 2011

Business: Of Arse Covering

Microwave ovens have been with us for too long now...

No, I do not mean too long for our (or their) own good .I mean too long as in long enough for supermarkets to figure out at what powers the darned things come. In the decades that I've been acquainted with the life or at least time saving device I've only ever come across the 600, 800, and say 1000W variants. And yet, most of the ready made meals you can get in the supermarkets give cooking advice for 650, 750, and 850W models. Now, if one knows how the microwave oven goes about heating your food, and is also familiar with the volume of the food at hand, with a moderate amount of maths knowledge one can adjust cooking times for a 600ml of soup from 3.5 + 3.5 minutes in an 750W microwave to the 3.75 + 3.75 minutes required in the 800W microwave, but I suspect that there something much more sinister at play here.

Yes, as you may have by now guessed from the title, it is the venerable arse covering (or ass covering, as the good - and the bad, I guess - people from across the pond may say) that is at play here. If you give people instructions that are literally correct, but hard to follow if you don't have a degree what else can it be? I mean, it's hardly likely that most people know that microwaves work by exciting (no, not in *that* way) water (and metal, for that matter) molecules in food and that this is relative to the volume of the stuff at hand, so that you can then work out that two bowls of soup require twice as long in the microwave, even if they'd take exactly the same time on the hob if you poured them into the same pot. Not to mention the hard work of figuring out "if it takes X at 750W, how long does it take at 800". Finally, no I'm not calling for supermarkets to initiate graduate courses for shoppers, but surely they can look around - even their own shelves these days - and realise what wattages they need to cover in their microwave cooking instructions? After all, they do want what's best for their customers.

Or do they...