Two days ago, I bought a bag of Corn Nuts for the first time in about one-eighth of a century. Why? I was in a slow-moving checkout line, and I caved. I had entered the Impulse-Buy Zone. You’re familiar with the Zone, where shoppers try to resist the urge to buy nail clippers, “just in case.”
Two days ago, I bought a bag of Corn Nuts for the first time in about one-eighth of a century.
Why? I was in a slow-moving checkout line, and I caved. I had entered the Impulse-Buy Zone.
You’re familiar with the Zone, where shoppers try to resist the urge to buy nail clippers, “just in case.”
Most grown-ups can wait patiently without salivating over Tic-Tacs. We can distract ourselves by flipping through the reading material at the checkout stand.
My typical inner dialog:
Reader’s Digest. “Hey, a condensed version of an article I read in Newsweek last week when I was standing in line. Reader’s Digest is like having the flavor of your mom’s homemade chicken soup available in potato-chip form.”
Woman’s Day. “I wish I hadn’t let my subscription expire.”
A horoscope book. “Is my zodiac sign ever going to change?”
This time, there was an extended delay. I had exhausted the reading possibilities and started gazing at the munchies.
That explains the “why,” but not the “why-why.” Of all the edibles, why Corn Nuts?
The M&M’s looked appealing, as always, until I saw those animated M&M characters on the bag and remembered how they irritate me. I don’t like the idea of a cartoon melting in my mouth and not in my hand.
M&M’s were good without the anthropormorphism.
Thing is, I wasn’t even hungry. I had gone there to get lightbulbs, a garden hose and "Yahtzee" replacement score pads. I didn’t expect to throw snack food into the mix.
When I got home, I sought answers to explain the Corn Nut Incident. I consulted “How We Decide,” a recent bestseller by Jonah Lehrer. I got the book last month as I waited to check out at the bookstore. I hadn't read it yet, but decided this was the time.
According to Lehrer’s book, decision-making is a complex thing. Nothing in there specifically about Corn Nuts, but here are some factors Lehrer says have an impact on our decisions (in ascending order of alphabetism): asymmetric paternalism, dopamine, fictive error-learning, “(The) Hedgehog and the Fox,” introspection, intuition, leaf muntjac, loss aversion, orbitofrontal cortex, prediction-error signal, Stroop task and top-down thinking. (Also, the phrase “the zone” appears on page 63).
That’s just the Reader’s Digest version.
I still can’t explain why, or how, I got the Corn Nuts, but it turned out to be a good choice.
They were delicious, just like my horoscope in Woman’s Day predicted.
Is that a good thing? I can’t decide.
Contact Dennis Volkert at firstname.lastname@example.org.