In marketing we love to use descriptors that make us feel good, such as “world’s greatest” or “America’s favorite.” But we all know it’s just one big pile of pig slop. Just look in your own neighborhood and count the number of sub shops that claim to have the “World’s Greatest Cheesesteak.”
We buy into the spin every day whether it’s when we’re looking for a new vacuum cleaner such as the Oreck Halo that claims to kill viruses or a new Hyundai that claims to be the car with “America’s Best Warranty.” Nobody really challenges claims like these, nor has anyone ever sued Mary’s Sub Shop for having the worst cheesesteak despite her “world’s greatest” claim.
Superlatives are all around us and these words and phrases play a major role in our purchasing decisions, which is why they are used constantly. Whether the purveyor of the goods can actually back up these descriptors is another story. Some succeed, most fail.
I use the humble shrimp as an example.
The ocean’s favorite bottom feeder has a marketing life of its own in every restaurant in every corner of the world. Shrimp farmers raise various size shrimp from the tiny, tiny salad shrimp to the larger variety that make up a delicious shrimp cocktail. The fish industry assigned codes for the various size of shrimp based on the number that make up a pound. For example, the U-10 size shrimp mean you get 10 shrimp in a pound, whereas the U-15 comes 15 shrimp to a pound. Restaurants don’t normally tell you what U size the shrimp you are ordering will be, instead they use superlatives to speak about these diminutive crusteations.
“X-Large Peel & Eat”
“Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail”
Many times when the creature arrives next to a side of lemon and a dabble of cocktail sauce, we’re disappointed. X-Large and Jumbo aren’t quantifiable and one restauranteur’s vision of Jumbo may be a U-15 while another may be a U-6.
One of my favorite steakhouses is Old Homestead. With locations in the Meatpacking District in New York City, the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City and at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida, the Old Homestead has a unique take on the shrimp. They tossed aside the trite descriptors found on way too many menus and simply call their shrimp “Titanic” and it’s for good reason. These babys are U-4’s (4 to a pound) and at $9 a piece, they’re worth it.
I was in the mood for a good steak last night so down to the Club I went for dinner at Old Homestead. Now before you start adding this to your to-do list, the Boca Raton location is only open to hotel guests and Club members. Having dined here many times before, I knew just want I wanted and I wasn’t disappointed.
While using the word “Titanic” to describe a shrimp may be a stretch of the imagination, compared to other descriptions of this classic appetizer, Old Homestead delivers upon the diner’s expectations.
Now if it were only that easy for cheesesteaks.