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Warning notices are typically added to products to protect both the corporations that create them and the consumers that enjoy them. But if you consider warning labels closely, you may sense the unique stories of intersection between the two, stories that likely culminated in a courtroom.
Perhaps one of the most famous incidents involves the warning label which reads “Caution: Contents may be hot.” This one has adorned McDonald’s coffee cups since 1994, when a woman sued the fast-food chain after she spilled a cup of drive-through coffee heated to 180 degrees while attempting to add creamer. The coffee burned her so badly, it required skin grafts to her legs and groin to repair the damage. McDonald’s, already aware of 700 other cases, some involving children, offered the woman $800 to settle out of court. A jury gave her $2.9 million and required McDonald’s add the warning label to its cups.
Many may laugh when they see the label on McDonald’s coffee cups, figuring, “Duh, of course it’s hot.” But in this case, hundreds of average citizens doing what average citizens would be expected to do with average products resulted in serious medical trouble. I’d say in this regard, the warning label makes sense, especially since you have teenagers making and serving the coffee—humanoids who can barely be trusted with their own self-care practices of regular showers and brushing teeth.
It’s true, however, that following the seemingly lucrative nature of the McDonald’s case, frivolity began reigning in courtrooms across America. As more and more lawsuits were leveled, corporations became fearful mapmakers, drawing ridiculous boundaries for safe use of their products, ultimately revealing both how far people will go to get rich, but also just how ignorant we’ve become as a society.
Vidal Sassoon had to put a label on its hairdryers warning consumers not to use the device while sleeping. People with egg allergies were preserved from danger by an egg carton’s label which read, “Warning: this product may contain eggs.” Tide detergent pods have a label warning against eating them. I’m guessing Apple became fearful of the same thing and started warning against eating its iPod shuffle devices. GlaxoSmithKline currently puts “Caution: This product may cause drowsiness” on all of its sleep aid medications. The next time you’re in a Walmart or Target, take a quick trip over to the aisle with the clothing irons. Count how many of the various models have warning labels that instruct the iron’s customer not to use the device while wearing the clothing to be ironed. Speaking of clothing, go to a store that sells clothes washers and spend some time reading the labels on the machines. You’ll learn that the shirt upon which you discovered a ketchup stain while wearing and ironing it at the same time should be taken off before you put it into the washer. Maytag, Samsung, LG, and others clearly do not want consumers putting people into their machines.
While at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, I discovered an interesting warning against particular uses for Disney’s Magicbands.
By way of explanation, a Magicband is a wristwatch-like device Disney sells to be worn on the arm that can be loaded with a variety of passes to its various parks. In other words, patrons wearing Magicbands can simply touch the band to a sensor and proceed into the park. Easy enough, right? So then, what do you suppose happened that would require Disney to attach a warning label that reads, “Not for internal or subdermal use”?
Whatever grotesque possibility you imagined, just know you probably weren’t too far from the truth. And how do I know this? Because that’s the world we live in—a world filled with people more than willing to follow the voice of the malfunctioning human will.
Apart from the warnings against consuming alcohol while pregnant, or before operating a vehicle or heavy equipment, I’m just glad I’ve not discovered any unreasonable warnings on whiskey bottles. However, knowing mankind’s potential, I’ll admit to being a bit surprised by this. When consumed by idiots, booze has for more than a millennia proven its ability to cull human herds. It’ll bring bravery when caution is more essential. It’ll stir willingness when hesitation is better. It’ll sacrifice long-term preservation for short-term glory. It’ll convince a man in a batting cage he was born with a steel skull, and it’ll give wings to a wingless man as he prepares to jump from one rooftop to another.
Well, whatever. I guess I’m just glad the collegium of whiskey makers has never been so frightened by the idiots in our world, and thus, has never felt the need to warn consumers with labels that read something like, “Warning: Do not attempt to re-insert the bottle’s cork using one’s butt cheeks.” Time will tell, though. Indeed, there’s a limitless well of opportunities to be discovered with bottom-shelf whiskies, which are the ones most often at the scene of youthful tragedies being shared and re-shared on YouTube.
A twenty-dollar bottle of whiskey, I’m guessing that John Rich’s Redneck Riviera has seen it’s share of booze-induced misfortunes.
With its artificially over-sweetened, but incredibly bare, nose, my guess is that this whiskey was never created with the expectation that enjoyability would lead toward profitability, but rather by its affordability, it would create enjoyable contexts resulting in memorable stories—accounts that sound something like:
“Hey, man, remember that time we got drunk and drove that tractor into the lake?”
“Yeah, man, I remember. That was awesome. I know Tommy drowned under the front wheels, but hey, that was so much fun. What were we drinking that night?”
“Redneck Riviera, dude. We drank the whole bottle.”
“We should totally go get a bottle right now.”
“Yeah, man, and drink to Tommy!”
“Yeah, man! To Tommy!”
A sip from this whiskey reveals it’s not as smooth as the label would have you believe. Instead, it’s a sugary mess of… well… I can’t even say for sure. It just tastes like something to be endured until one’s senses are dull enough that it can’t be tasted anymore, figuring that no matter the ensuing damage, there are bound to be laughs. It reminds me of summer camp days playing bloody knuckles with my friends. Two challengers would punch each other’s knuckles until one or the other backed down. It usually resulted in laughs and a measure of numbness working together to mask painfully bleeding fingers.
The whiskey’s medium finish is itself a tragedy. Like the palate, the syrupy burn is something that must be survived. Water does not help. Only time. Although, I did not try licking the oil stains in my driveway as a countermeasure. That’s a solution worth considering.
To be fair, people have different tastes resulting in eventual favorites. This whiskey may be a favorite for some, and in that regard, I would never slight an individual’s genuine preference. Remember, this is only my read of the spirit, and when I finish writing this, I’ll be sure to take a trip through the blogosphere to visit with other’s opinions. Nevertheless, consider the warning labels I’ve added circumstantially to this particular edition, being sure to remember there’s usually a real-world reason lurking beneath such concerns.