February 16, 2007

Guacamole: A Big Red Ripoff

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Guacamole. It’s about damn time we sit down and have a talk about the sorry state of guacamole on campus. I’m going to use some strong language in this column because, frankly, it’s an issue I can’t get off my mind. Let’s cut the intro short and just get to the point: Whose big red idea was it to charge $1.50 extra for a spoonful of guacamole?

$1.50, five times a week, 16 weeks a semester and two semesters a year for four years equals $960! Now to be fair, I don’t eat the same thing five times a week for four years, but somebody could! There could be, somewhere, a senior who has eaten a Statler wrap 640 times and has spent close to one thousand dollars on tasty green paste.

There is a light at the end of the extremely expensive tunnel — in fact, the tunnel splits in three directions — and each of them leads to inexpensive guacamole salvation. (Does a tunnel metaphor break down if the tunnel splits in three? Can any engineers out there tell me if you can split a tunnel? Shoot me an email.)

The first method is the top secret Charlie Niesenbaum guaranteed free guacamole at the Statler scam. I debated writing this article my junior year because, if I reveal my free guac scam, it may never work again. This column is potentially going to cost me, big time ($960). But there is an equal chance that nobody will really have the matzah balls to try this, and I can continue my nearly two-month streak of free guacamole. Full disclosure: my free guacamole scam is very similar to Sun columnist Justin Weitz’s “Free double meat at Mac’s” scam, but I’m writing about mine first.

1. Pick the right wrap maker: there are up to four “wrap artisans” during peak hours, and you have to pick one that has a strong history of giving you free guac. This is where experience comes in. A regular customer like myself can build up a rapport (warning: not said like it sounds) with a particular wrap maker and ride that friendship all the way to one thousand dollars in savings. Newbies should look for a cheery demeanor and a little pep in the step — a happy wrap maker is more likely to stick it to the man for you.

2. Barney it up: Be extremely cheerful, polite, well dressed, articulate, kind and empathetic (if necessary). Make a joke about the weather, new decorations, upcoming holiday, upcoming break or a past break. Set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. This is also an appropriate time to whisper, “I love you.”

3. Know what you want before hand: no hemming and hawing over rice or black beans. Remember this rhyme: Confidence is key in step three.

4. Pause: this is the crucial step. In between listing the ingredients and dropping the guac bomb, you must pause. This pause shows that this is not a rehearsed wrap and that you are apprehensive about adding guacamole. The lady likes you at this point; she knows your economic dilemma, and she wants to help you.

5. Drop the Guac Bomb! All you can do at this point is pray you don’t get a huuuuge “G” marked on both sides of your wrap.

If stealing guacamole isn’t your thing, you can always make your own. An extra perk: if you start making guacamole in college, by the time you are 50 it can become your “World-famous guacamole.” Where will you find the recipe? Online, just like everyone else. Where will you find the ingredients? Wegmans, with the rest of the food shopping public. What will make the guacamole world famous? Marketing: in the world of family potluck dinners, marketing is only trumped on rare occasions by delicious flavorful food (examples: Nana’s string beans, Granny’s tuna mousse). Two grandma shout-outs in one column! Take that every other columnist who clearly doesn’t love their grandmas as much as I do.

In between slaving over a food processor and petty theft is purchasing
pre-made guacamole. The first time I heard this, I was floored. Apparently, through the magic of food coloring and vacuum-sealed bags, you can buy frozen guacamole that tastes almost like the real thing. If you are planning a party (and more on parties in the next column), you can always surprise your guests with guacamole and appear to be a superhero. It’s an easy stunt to pull.

First, retire to the kitchen and say, “I’m going to get some chips and dip.” Everyone will assume you mean salsa and Tostitos, but wait until you come back with Tostitos, salsa and … store-bought frozen-and-then-reheated guacamole! Someone might even say “but I didn’t hear the food processor!” (This last part is unlikely.)

Guacamole, be it frozen, fresh or stolen, is delicious and nutritious. It isn’t that expensive to make, and it should be enjoyed by all. I say give me free guacamole, or give me something else. Or as a modern day Patrick Henry might put it, “A Statler wrap is a delicious meal or snack/ but an extra buck-fifty sure is whack.” Feel the same way? Call the Statler General Manager directly and politely complain; his number is (607) 257-2500.