It was a life changing moment that reshaped my entire childhood. I never knew people lived this way, and the realization that people could do. . . this, and throw caution to the wind, made me realize there was so much more to life than I ever knew.
It was the day I learned my Aunt Karen kept her butter in a cupboard, like some hippie.
This was a big change from my family tradition of keeping little tubs of margarine in the refrigerator. We had to chip out chunks of margarine with a heavy knife and used it to tear big holes into our toast. Or I would put a couple margarine stones between my pancakes, which made the top pancake look like it had a painful cyst.
So when I saw the butter in the cupboard at my aunt's house in Oregon, I thought she was getting old and senile, and had forgotten to put it away. I asked my mother about it, and she said with a sniff, "no, my family always did that growing up."
"Is it okay to eat?" I asked, worried about botulism.
"Sure, it's fine," she said.
I couldn't believe what happened next. The butter spread so smoothly and easily on the toast, it was like spreading silk on a slice of satin. It was some of the best toast I had ever eaten.
I asked my mom if we could keep our margarine like that, so I didn't have to go back to excavating chunks for my toast.
"Absolutely not!" My mom and her sister got along fine, but I got the impression this was a sore point for my mother, so I left it alone.
Years later, when I learned that my wife-to-be was a butter-in-the-cupboard proponent, I knew I had made the right choice. This alone was enough to make me want to marry her. Breakfast became a treat again, and not an act of wanton toast violence.
Apparently, refrigerating condiments is a hot button issue for a lot of people, and is the hill many of them choose to die on. Forget immigrant bans and ethics violations. To refrigerate or not refrigerate, that is the real question.
The London Evening Standard was surprised by this too, because a British supermarket chain had posed the question on Twitter, and the newspaper thought it was worth a 250 word article.
Asda asked their Twitter followers where they stored their tomato ketchup, in the fridge or in the cupboard. They even ran a little Twitter poll so they could tabulate the votes.
Apparently, English people feel the same way about their ketchup that my mom did about her margarine — strongly and unyielding — because a lot of people got emotionally invested in the discussion and wanted to make sure they had been heard.
Someone else in the comments section said she had been keeping her ketchup in the cupboard for 60 years and had never suffered any ill effects. I would have thought the ketchup would taste a bit off after the first 20 or so years, but she seemed to be okay.
Some people were cynical about the entire thing. "Wherever it gets the most PR coverage," snarked one Twitter user. "Well done, Asda marketing department."
First, don't be such a whiny baby. This is the sort of thing marketing people should be using Twitter for: to spark friendly discussion about something fun. Otherwise, they're going to be weighing in on political issues or posting nothing but "Ketchup on sale for £2.00!" tweets and that gets tiresome.
In the end, 2674 people voted on Asda's tweet, and the cupboard people outnumbered the refrigerator people, 54% to 46%. Of course, a majority of British people voted for Brexit too, so we can't trust them to vote on anything correctly anymore.
I even conducted my own informal Facebook poll —"informal," because I like to imagine that British people wear suits and bowler hats — with the same question.
I got nearly 60 responses from people, and most people said they keep their ketchup in the refrigerator, and only a few said the cupboard.
Also, a few people said they didn't like ketchup, and one person called it "catsup." I unfriended those people because I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether you keep your ketchup in the refrigerator or if you hate freedom. Our condiment storage choices probably date back to the way our parents were raised, and even their parents. So that can't be helped, and I'll still support you no matter what you choose.
But if you put your butter in the fridge, we can no longer be friends
You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.