Oyler: Pretzel placement, Penguins programs raise columnist’s ire |

Oyler: Pretzel placement, Penguins programs raise columnist’s ire

Every time I complain about something, someone suggests I write a column about it.

Actually my complaints are mostly about trivial things, but perhaps a combination of several of them warrants my comments. Today is cold and cloudy, classic “Pittsburgh Gray,” and nothing has happened to negate my negative attitude.

Several times each season the “official game program of the Pittsburgh Penguins” includes a survey for the fans to fill out, apparently to gather demographic information so the Pens can serve the public better.

The survey always includes a section where we are asked for suggestions to improve our experience at the game.

Recently I gave up complaining about the music they play. Now my focus is on the program itself and my desire that it include something like the old-fashioned scorecard, a place where spectators could record things about the game — who scored goals, penalties, etc.

Then there is our experience with peanut butter pretzels. This is a delightful snack that we first encountered on sale at our favorite super market. These are little pillow-shaped pretzels filled with peanut butter, marketed by H.K. Anderson Bakery. A few weeks after we became addicted to them, the supermarket ran a special on its own version, packaged in identical containers.

My wife commented that we probably had seen the last of H.K. Anderson in this store. She was, of course, right, and since then we have been satisfied buying the store’s brand, but have now fallen afoul of another marketing strategy — what I call their scavenger-hunt approach. It is based on constant upheaval, regularly relocating popular items into unfamiliar places, which forces customers to spend more time looking for what they want, tempting them to make more impulse-buying decisions.

Originally the peanut butter pretzels were in the pretzel/potato chip snack aisle, which made too much sense.

One week they disappeared, only to surface near the pet foods department. Most recently we couldn’t find them, so I asked one of the managers for help. This time, the pretzels were in the ice cream aisle.

Perhaps even more annoying is the proliferation of telephone solicitation by charitable organizations. My wife supports every beneficially motivated organization that contacts her, with preference to those promoting causes that affect the environment. Her practice is to give an annual donation to each of them.

I listen to the radio when I drive into Oakland and back each day. I have a genuine interest in legitimate sports news. The currently highly promoted FM sports station claims it gives news every 20 minutes. The announcer reads 60 seconds of “news,” then gives the microphone back to two or more “hosts” — performers with little knowledge of sports.

I am astounded at the inane chatter that proceeds for the next 12 or 13 minutes, until it is time for commercials leading up to the next update.

Obviously the customer base is dominated by listeners who have no interest in legitimate news but are titillated by alleged personalities who add very little to the knowledge sports fans already possess.

I would be delighted to listen to a sports program that spent 10 or 15 minutes every morning presenting the news, providing relevant detail on the games played the previous day and on the newsworthy things that had happened since then.

If my parents had the opportunity to read this column, their reaction would be “If that’s all you can find to complain about, you are an extremely lucky person.”

They would be right. I am indeed extremely lucky.

John Oyler is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-343-1652 or [email protected].

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