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Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
October 29, 2001

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC.

Why Do They Hate Me?

It happened again a few days ago. I told someone that I really liked the fish and chips at Pizzeria Uno. Apparently someone from the restaurant's management overheard me, and -- bingo! The next time I ordered it, they had completely changed it.

Instead of a few separate pieces of breaded fish that you could dip into the tartar sauce and eat with your fingers, this time there was a single enormous slab of fish. I looked at the waiter, thinking that he had brought me the wrong order, but he said, "They changed it."

Then I made the mistake of cutting into it to try to make my own dippable pieces and, to my disgust, I saw that the fish had been breaded with the skin on.

"Excuse me," I said to the waiter.

He was sympathetic. "Yeah, it's a new product, that's all we've got."

"This is America," I said to him. "In America, we take the skin off the fish before we bread it." I had pizza instead.

I'm getting used to this, though. As soon as I really like something, the powers-that-be invariably get rid of it.

That's why 3M stopped making "Scrunge," the only really good dish-scrubbing sponge, so it's now almost impossible to find -- because my family is so devoted to it that we can't use anything else to handwash dishes. When we run out of our current hoard, I supposed we'll have to resort to scrubbing our dishes the way the pioneers did -- with handfuls of sand.

That's why East-West Bistro, once the only California-cuisine restaurant in Greensboro, closed down, only to be replaced by a hardware store called Mahi's. (I assume it's a hardware store, based on the way we were served and the quality of the food when we recently "ate" there.)

The original chocolate mousse royale at 31 Flavors disappeared, because I told people it was the most deliciously sensual ice cream ever made.

Glazer's on Lawndale, which made the finest doughnuts we ever had, closed down. Why? Because we were telling people they were better than Krispy Kreme.

Carolina Bread Company? Our favorite. Doomed.

Godiva chocolate chip ice cream? I bought too much of it. Gone.

And I apologize to everyone for causing the demise of the Blue Ridge ice cream store at Lawndale and Cornwallis a few years ago. Yep -- I was stopping there three times a week. It had no chance.

The worst offender in the "Orson likes it so let's kill it" category, however, is Harris-Teeter.

I shop at Harris-Teeter. My VIC card has a hole worn in it, I use it so much. If it weren't for the meat, the fish, the deli, and the selection of vinegars and olive oils at Fresh Market, I would never shop anywhere but Harris-Teeter.

How do they repay my loyalty?

They use their computers to keep track of whatever I'm clearly devoted to, and they stop carrying it.

I used to buy Dannon Double-Delight yogurts -- the ones where you mix obscenely rich sauces with delicious yogurt. Then they disappeared from Harris-Teeter.

So I switched to Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie yogurt. Why? Because it tastes much better than the competition's, and it doesn't have any of those nasty lumps of fruitlike goop that so many yogurt flavors have. I would buy a dozen of them at a time. And I wasn't the only one who liked it -- the Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie was routinely sold out after only a couple of days.

Naturally, they are no longer carried at Harris-Teeter -- though they can still be purchased everywhere else in America. Apparently I am not worthy of Yoplait Light Key Lime Pie yogurt.

Planter's chocolate-covered cashews? No longer at Harris-Teeter in Greensboro. I have to settle for the definitely second-choice Supreme brand at Eckerd's. Who wants to buy evil diet-busting treats at a drugstore, for heaven's sake? I think I'll start driving to the Outer Banks once a month to buy the brilliant chocolate-covered cashews at Try My Nuts. Surely the Harris-Teeter Orson-haters won't follow me there.

The list goes on and on. H-T used to have a brand of delicious fruit smoothies. Now all they carry is that nasty Samantha brand with additives that I don't want and flavors I don't like.

H-T used to have bottled mango in the chilled produce section, but now they only have that awful ambrosia fruit salad that nobody buys.

H-T used to have seven-ounce Dixie cups, the most convenient size for drinking water and taking pills. First they replaced them with Harris-Teeter brand cups, and then dropped the seven-ounce size altogether at the Elm Street store where I shop. To get the right size I have to drive to their Friendly Center store. What, they own stock in Amoco?

And it's happening again. Job Squad was completely missing from the Harris-Teeter paper towel section last time I shopped there. They must have realized that I didn't consider any other brand worth buying.

The only brand of fresh pasta they still carry is Contadina -- the one I didn't like, while the brand I liked is gone.

Next thing you know I won't be able to get my Guilt-Free brand ice cream sandwiches and fudge bars, or my Yoplait Light Vanilla yogurts (the last flavor left to me!), or the Harris-Teeter brand cottage cheese that is the only edible cottage cheese sold in the city. They're bound to stop stocking those big Caribbean papayas because I buy at least one a week, and the Loosa fruit drinks are doomed, because I love them.

I single-handedly buy so many of these things that I know they're sacrificing profits in order to deprive me.

Please, Harris-Teeter -- and everybody else who is determined to stop me from getting the things I like best -- tell me what I did to offend you.

Can't you call a halt to this vendetta while I still have a few pleasures left?

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