Happy “Responsible” Christmas: Bah, Humbug!

 

I’ve made no secret, over the years, of my love for Quality Street chocolates.  The ultimate Christmas sweet.  Reasonably decent candies, in spectacularly lovely foil-and-cellophane wrappings.  The ultimately beautiful bucket of decadence, beloved by generations of Brits.  You only have to look at the small image at the top of this post to understand how heartwarming and shiny they are amidst the drear of a typical British winter, made even more calamitous this year, as last, by rolling strikes among the doctors, the train drivers, and the bus drivers each timed and placed to cause as much disruption as possible to the long-suffering public.

Last December’s work stoppages also included the teachers, the ambulance drivers, the royal mail, the highway workers, the driving examiners, and the border force.  That last one, was quite embarrassing.  The border force are the folks who work airport security coming and going.  The army moved in to take over when they went on strike, and the movement and flow of passengers through the airports improved markedly.

This was 2022’s helpful BBC chart, provided to help the public keep track of when they were allowed to travel, when they could expect their mail to be delivered, when their children’s schools would be somewhat functional, and when to schedule their healthcare emergencies so as to have even the faintest hope of being transported to a facility (if the roads were open), or of finding a doctor or a nurse on duty when they got there. (Click to embiggen):

I don’t think the BBC has published such a thing this year, as–apparently–what’s going on this December in the way of what is euphemistically known in the UK as “industrial action,” is rather run-of-the-mill and nothing to write home about. Unless you want to go somewhere or need medical treatment.  Then, all bets are off.

Adding to the national air of gloom and disfavor (even without taking into account the antics of the Conservative Party and the Royal Family) is the fact that Quality Street has gone woke, and all the lovely foil and cellophane wrappings are being replaced with dull and uninteresting paper ones.

The announcement that the company was doing this came last year, in a statement on the tin that “We’re moving to recyclable wrappers.”

Further investigation revealed that Nestlé (who bought Mackintosh some years ago), wants to “eliminate two billion pieces of packaging material by 2023,”and so is on a “journey” (Aren’t we all? Hold that thought….) to introduce “recyclable wrappers” while insuring that the “DELICIOUS SWEETS” (not shouting myself, that’s a direct quote from the packaging) will remain unchanged.

I don’t care.

I want my shiny, iridescent box of Quality Street chocolates for Christmas.  It’s the only such box of sweets I buy over the course of a year.  And I buy it, as much for the wrappers–and for the memories**–as for anything else.

So there is Thing One, the thought of which got me going this morning.

Thing Two happened this afternoon:

File:ChristmasCrackers 2.jpg

There I was, working on the Christmas decorations, and it occurred to me that I was going to have to order up some Christmas crackers this year, as I only have one or two left.  Simultaneously (and at the same time) I ran across an article in the Telegraph: Christmas crackers lose their “crack”–for the sake of the environment.

The crack of a Christmas cracker sounds the start of merry making around the dining table for millions on Christmas day. But this year festivities face going off without a bang as traditional snaps are pulled from recyclable crackers…

Alliance National, one of Britain’s biggest catering suppliers, has announced it will offer only environmentally friendly “crackless” crackers to its customers, which include dozens of care homes, hotels, pubs and restaurants across the country.

The company has axed Christmas crackers with silver fulminate strips – which have been used to give the snapping sound since as early as 1860 – and now says its crackers will have “the audible crack of cardboard” instead.

Oh boy.  Christmas memories of the “audible crack of cardboard.”  I can’t wait.

Here’s the note that Alliance National has place in the boxes to explain their move:

Image

Isn’t that sweet!  They’re on a “journey” too!!  Perhaps the folks at Alliance National could hold hands with the folks from Nestlé and they could all go off on a journey (a responsible one, of course), and leave the rest of us to celebrate the season together joyfully, and even with a little bit of silliness along the way.

According to the Telegraph article, several of the cracker makers have elected to include paper Christmas tree decorations (I’m not sure why that isn’t a microaggression) inside the crackers, but not the traditional paper hats (generally in the shape of a crown–I suppose that’s too triggering), or the traditional printed joke (I suppose there’s too much opportunity for offense to be taken there, so best not).

I’ve just ordered, from Amazon, enough crackers with the crack, and the toys, and the hats, and the jokes to last for several years.  Wish I could do the same with the chocolates and their wrappers. (I’m almost mad–in all senses of the word–enough to consider purchasing these:  900 pcs Chocolate Wrappers–Aluminum Foil Wraps for Candies (you can buy cellophane too), and re-wrapping the things myself to achieve the desired effect.)

I wonder what little bit of Christmas magic will be removed from the table next.

**My Quality Street memories are legion.  (I’m so old, I can just about remember when “the purple ones” had a Brazil nut in the center.) My family always sent us a box of Quality Street at Christmas when we were in Nigeria. My mother always had a tin for me to bring back with me to the US, every time I visited the UK.  My dogs once ate an entire tub of them, wrappers and all, and then happily (and colorfully) pooped the wrappers out all over the farm, for days on end.  Fun times.

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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    This is part of the cyberpunk dystopia in which we live. Rich jerks make choices for the rest of us.

    • #2
  3. MoFarmer Coolidge
    MoFarmer
    @mofarmer

    “Amidst the drear”. That must be British!

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    … and yet Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” will not stop getting radio plays.

    May Nestlé and Alliance National find nothing but coal in their stockings.

    Merry Christmas anyway, She.

    • #4
  5. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    She: I wonder what little bit of Christmas magic will be removed from the table next. 

    Meat.

     

    • #5
  6. She Member
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    … and yet Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” will not stop getting radio plays.

    May Nestlé and Alliance National find nothing but coal in their stockings.

    Merry Christmas anyway, She.

    Thanks, Percival. Merry Christmas to you too. And to you all. 

    • #6
  7. She Member
    She
    @She

    Al French (View Comment):

    She: I wonder what little bit of Christmas magic will be removed from the table next.

    Meat.

    I fear you’re right. Charles Dickens must be rolling over in his grave to think that the family’s little Cricket on the Hearth good-luck mascot might one day turn up as the centerpiece on the dinner table. 

    • #7
  8. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    I went back to work a few weeks ago and there’s always a mountain of chocolate there. Anyway I usually avoid it but I do make an exception for the toffee logs in the quality street box. Imagine my disgust last week when I lifted the lid on that imposter. That’s me done with the lot. 

    • #8
  9. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Stupid virtue signalling nonsense.  I developed a recycling program, and paper is only recyclable if it is clean.  Food wrappers are never recyclable. 

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Stupid virtue signalling nonsense. I developed a recycling program, and paper is only recyclable if it is clean. Food wrappers are never recyclable.

    But you can see the virtue, right? It doesn’t matter a whit if there is no practical benefit. The signal is the thing!

    • #10
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    There is a very, very practical side to recycling! It lets me have a place to put Pizza boxes. And cans. And it is free. Why, with Recycling every week, I save on having to pay a free for another Trash can. I love it! I only wish they still took glass. 

    I don’t much care what happens to it all. America has plenty of room for landfills. 

    20 years from now, when we have fusion, plasma torches will take care of it all. 

    • #11
  12. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is a very, very practical side to recycling! It lets me have a place to put Pizza boxes. And cans. And it is free. Why, with Recycling every week, I save on having to pay a free for another Trash can. I love it! I only wish they still took glass.

    I don’t much care what happens to it all. America has plenty of room for landfills.

    20 years from now, when we have fusion, plasma torches will take care of it all.

    There are environmentalists who say recycling cardboard and paper is absolutely not worth the energy expenditure, but we should be burning it rather than burying it. 

    • #12
  13. She Member
    She
    @She

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is a very, very practical side to recycling! It lets me have a place to put Pizza boxes. And cans. And it is free. Why, with Recycling every week, I save on having to pay a free for another Trash can. I love it! I only wish they still took glass.

    I don’t much care what happens to it all. America has plenty of room for landfills.

    20 years from now, when we have fusion, plasma torches will take care of it all.

    There are environmentalists who say recycling cardboard and paper is absolutely not worth the energy expenditure, but we should be burning it rather than burying it.

    I have a reciprocal arrangement with my dogs when it comes to the excess cardboard pieces and boxes (those without staples) around here. They love to play with it and tear it apart (considering what they could be tearing apart, I regard this as  a pretty innocuous pursuit).  When it’s in fairly small pieces, and thrown around all over the place, I wander about and pick it all up and chuck it in the compost pile.  Works quite well.

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is a very, very practical side to recycling! It lets me have a place to put Pizza boxes. And cans. And it is free. Why, with Recycling every week, I save on having to pay a free for another Trash can. I love it! I only wish they still took glass.

    I don’t much care what happens to it all. America has plenty of room for landfills.

    20 years from now, when we have fusion, plasma torches will take care of it all.

    There are environmentalists who say recycling cardboard and paper is absolutely not worth the energy expenditure, but we should be burning it rather than burying it.

    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine. 

    As I say, we have all the room we need for landfills. 

    • #14
  15. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Stupid virtue signalling nonsense. I developed a recycling program, and paper is only recyclable if it is clean. Food wrappers are never recyclable.

    Our town recycling program is emphatic that paper food wrappers (including pizza boxes) should not be put in the recycling bins.

    • #15
  16. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    The cracker solution was solved years ago.

    • #16
  17. She Member
    She
    @She

    KCVolunteer(View Comment):

    The cracker solution was solved years ago.

    Loved those guys….

    • #17
  18. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I only wish they still took glass. 

    If you put glass in the recycling, how would they not take it?

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Stupid virtue signalling nonsense. I developed a recycling program, and paper is only recyclable if it is clean. Food wrappers are never recyclable.

    Our town recycling program is emphatic that paper food wrappers (including pizza boxes) should not be put in the recycling bins.

    Booooooo

    • #19
  20. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine. 

    I grew up in a small town (90 people). We had a 55-gallon drum in the back corner where we dumped all our trash (and recycling too). We burned it once a week or so. Worked great. Every year or two, we hauled the drum of ashes to the county dump, emptied it, and recycled the drum. Once the drum was too rusted out to use for burning trash, it also went in the county dump and we got a new one.

    Then some ding dong in Washington outlawed that.

    • #20
  21. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    She: They’re on a “journey” too!!

    They’re on a journey to hell, and they’re dragging us along with them.

    • #21
  22. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine.

    I grew up in a small town (90 people). We had a 55-gallon drum in the back corner where we dumped all our trash (and recycling too). We burned it once a week or so. Worked great. Every year or two, we hauled the drum of ashes to the county dump, emptied it, and recycled the drum. Once the drum was too rusted out to use for burning trash, it also went in the county dump and we got a new one.

    Then some ding dong in Washington outlawed that.

    That’s not a bad option, as long as you don’t burn any PVC/vinyl, cleaners, or batteries.   Burning vinyl releases hydrochloric acid, which is predictably nasty.  Burning an aerosol can can create your own missile.

    • #22
  23. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine.

    I grew up in a small town (90 people). We had a 55-gallon drum in the back corner where we dumped all our trash (and recycling too). We burned it once a week or so. Worked great. Every year or two, we hauled the drum of ashes to the county dump, emptied it, and recycled the drum. Once the drum was too rusted out to use for burning trash, it also went in the county dump and we got a new one.

    Then some ding dong in Washington outlawed that.

    That’s not a bad option, as long as you don’t burn any PVC/vinyl, cleaners, or batteries. Burning vinyl releases hydrochloric acid, which is predictably nasty. Burning an aerosol can can create your own missile.

    The aerosol cans were the best part. If there was one in the trash you had dumped in, you waited with anticipation until it would blow.

    • #23
  24. She Member
    She
    @She

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine.

    I grew up in a small town (90 people). We had a 55-gallon drum in the back corner where we dumped all our trash (and recycling too). We burned it once a week or so. Worked great. Every year or two, we hauled the drum of ashes to the county dump, emptied it, and recycled the drum. Once the drum was too rusted out to use for burning trash, it also went in the county dump and we got a new one.

    Then some ding dong in Washington outlawed that.

    That’s not a bad option, as long as you don’t burn any PVC/vinyl, cleaners, or batteries. Burning vinyl releases hydrochloric acid, which is predictably nasty. Burning an aerosol can can create your own missile.

    The aerosol cans were the best part. If there was one in the trash you had dumped in, you waited with anticipation until it would blow.

    I’ve never done that on purpose, but over the course of a few decades, it has happened….

    • #24
  25. She Member
    She
    @She

    I would recycle more, if I thought that there was a serious purpose to it and that my mite would make a difference.  Where I live, there’s no separation of trash; the pleasant mythology is that it gets “sorted” somewhere else and recyclables get recycled at that point.  (Call me cynical, but I find this unlikely.)

    Folks of my grandmother’s generation bundled newspapers and saved sundry items for the various charities and small businesses that would pick them up. ** Quite often, when that point came, the items had already been used multiple times by the family.

    It’s still possible to send no-longer-wanted, still useful items off to places like Goodwill for reuse, although they get more and more picky about what they’ll take all the time, and during Covid years–at least around here–they weren’t taking anything.

    A couple of years ago, I decided it was time to get rid of a trunkful of old newspapers (don’t ask).  The time and expense needed to get them to the nearest place that would take newspapers in bulk was ridiculous.  I gave them to my personal rag and bone man (he works at a salvage yard, which itself is a very useful thing, with traffic going in both directions) and he took care of them.  Disposal of electronic items and tires is a real hairball also.  And a lot of collection companies won’t take things like mattresses.  Some people just give up, and that’s when I see old printers, tires, and bedding chucked into the weeds at the side of the road.  (Maybe they’re just slobs and they’d do that even if they had another option….)

    My township has started a twice-yearly collection day where they’ll take all the hard-to-get-rid-of stuff.  I’ve learned that it’s expensive for them to do so, as then they have to turn around and dispose of it themselves.  Expecting a tax increase soon….(It hasn’t really solved the problem of roadside disposal, as I suspect that many of those folks drive out from town or the suburbs to chuck things in the country where “no-one will notice.” 

    **There was always an empty cornflakes box on Granny’s kitchen draining board, where she would put the washed metal foil caps (discs a couple of inches across) from the tops of milk bottles.  When she’d got several of the boxes filled up, she’d phone the Royal Society for the Blind (I believe it has a less triggering name these days), to come pick them up.  She always described the effort as “for the seeing-eye dogs.”  I was well into my adolescence before I realized that it was an aluminum recycling drive.  When I was very young, though, I used to wonder how  sticking used milk-bottle lids over the eyes of seeing-eye dogs could possibly help anyone…. 

    • #25
  26. She Member
    She
    @She

    kedavis (View Comment)

    I covered that last year: Merry Holiday Christmas Shopping in the UK!  

    “Sugar and Booze” are also “off” for the holiday season in the UK. Or–at least–you have to look really hard to find them in the shops.

    Then they came for the Christmas chocolates: “Shops BANNED from displaying junk food near entrances and tills from today.”

    But I get my Quality Street fix** on Amazon, so I didn’t mind.

    Then they came for the alcohol: “Activists seek to block Christmas displays of alcohol in the supermarket.

    THAT’S IT! Now I’m [expletive]! Where do I go to complain?

    Oh, wait. I’m in the US.

    Never mind.

    As goofy–some might say depraved–as this country can be/has become, we’re still not as detached from reality and the finer things in life as our friends across the Pond.

    Not quite yet, anyway.

    Happy Holidays!

    Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want (1943). Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.

     

    • #26
  27. She Member
    She
    @She

    MoFarmer (View Comment):

    “Amidst the drear”. That must be British!

    There is almost nothing more ‘drear’ than a British winter.  Most of it is hypothermia weather–mid thirties and slightly above, and drizzly/sleety.  Best to stay out of it.

    The more attractive side is that much in the gardens continues to flower.  I remember a trip to the UK over Christmas about 20 years ago, in which the late Mr. She and I stayed at an 18th century Georgian farmhouse that had been converted into a bed and breakfast.  The garden was full of still-blooming roses.

    My sister (who’s in Scotland now, but who lived in the US for fifteen years) and I regularly converse about the differences in perspective.  Half-an-inch of snow on British roads shuts the country down, from airports to motorways, because they have no way of dealing with the insult.  Temperatures below about 30 degrees Fahrenheit are always referred to as “Arctic blasts” and come with government health warnings and a promise of extra money being doled out to deal with monthly heating costs.  

    What we do in the affected US areas–perhaps waiting a couple of hours until the snowplows have cleared the roads of six, or eight, or twelve, inches of snow–and then bundling up and going about our business on them, is simply baffling to the average Brit.

     

    • #27
  28. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    She (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Whatever is cheapest is my take. If that is burning it, fine. Digging a hole? Fine.

    I grew up in a small town (90 people). We had a 55-gallon drum in the back corner where we dumped all our trash (and recycling too). We burned it once a week or so. Worked great. Every year or two, we hauled the drum of ashes to the county dump, emptied it, and recycled the drum. Once the drum was too rusted out to use for burning trash, it also went in the county dump and we got a new one.

    Then some ding dong in Washington outlawed that.

    That’s not a bad option, as long as you don’t burn any PVC/vinyl, cleaners, or batteries. Burning vinyl releases hydrochloric acid, which is predictably nasty. Burning an aerosol can can create your own missile.

    The aerosol cans were the best part. If there was one in the trash you had dumped in, you waited with anticipation until it would blow.

    I’ve never done that on purpose, but over the course of a few decades, it has happened….

    It’s a boy thing

    • #28
  29. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    She (View Comment):

    MoFarmer (View Comment):

    “Amidst the drear”. That must be British!

    There is almost nothing more ‘drear’ than a British winter. Most of it is hypothermia weather–mid thirties and slightly above, and drizzly/sleety. Best to stay out of it.

    The more attractive side is that much in the gardens continues to flower. I remember a trip to the UK over Christmas about 20 years ago, in which the late Mr. She and I stayed at an 18th century Georgian farmhouse that had been converted into a bed and breakfast. The garden was full of still-blooming roses.

    My sister (who’s in Scotland now, but who lived in the US for fifteen years) and I regularly converse about the differences in perspective. Half-an-inch of snow on British roads shuts the country down, from airports to motorways, because they have no way of dealing with the insult. Temperatures below about 30 degrees Fahrenheit are always referred to as “Arctic blasts” and come with government health warnings and a promise of extra money being doled out to deal with monthly heating costs.

    What we do in the affected US areas–perhaps waiting a couple of hours until the snowplows have cleared the roads of six, or eight, or twelve, inches of snow–and then bundling up and going about our business on them, is simply baffling to the average Brit.

     

    Still getting up to 50 here many days. 

    Christmas in Dixie! 

    • #29
  30. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    She (View Comment):

    There is almost nothing more ‘drear’ than a British winter. Most of it is hypothermia weather–mid thirties and slightly above, and drizzly/sleety. Best to stay out of it.

    The more attractive side is that much in the gardens continues to flower. I remember a trip to the UK over Christmas about 20 years ago, in which the late Mr. She and I stayed at an 18th century Georgian farmhouse that had been converted into a bed and breakfast. The garden was full of still-blooming roses.

    My sister (who’s in Scotland now, but who lived in the US for fifteen years) and I regularly converse about the differences in perspective. Half-an-inch of snow on British roads shuts the country down, from airports to motorways, because they have no way of dealing with the insult. Temperatures below about 30 degrees Fahrenheit are always referred to as “Arctic blasts” and come with government health warnings and a promise of extra money being doled out to deal with monthly heating costs.

    What we do in the affected US areas–perhaps waiting a couple of hours until the snowplows have cleared the roads of six, or eight, or twelve, inches of snow–and then bundling up and going about our business on them, is simply baffling to the average Brit.

    I mentioned awhile back on another thread how last February (or was it the one before, time is getting too fast for me) northern Kentucky was hit by a major snow and ice storm. There were no salt trucks or plows out, maybe they don’t have such things there, or much traffic at all. Being from Michigan, I had snow tires and all-wheel drive, so I just slowed down a bit, as seemed appropriate to the weather and traffic, and pushed on through to our night’s destination. As luck would have it, it was south of the storm. So, the next morning we woke up to a beautiful day, and no show or ice to scrape of the car.

    • #30
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