I cut myself today on the way home. It still burns. And the lines on my wrist look innocent. A cat could have done that. As long as it is small, it looks innocent.
I ordered $18 of McDonald's on Saturday night, 1 AM, from a drive-through window. I saw the reflection in the booth window - wow, I look really good tonight. I was drinking at a bar called 1 Million Beers. It was a strange name, titled by an extraordinarily large number. That's always a risk, to add a number in the name of your store.
The Baskin Robin's people are constantly on edge making sure there are at least 31 flavors in their shops. I am sure it is fine and dandy most of the time, say when they are stocked with 33-38 flavors, but what about those bad supplier seasons? When they can only guarantee availability of 30 flavors because some Sri Lankan supplier is struggling to keep its cows healthy as the South Asian climate grows increasingly inconvenient? The supplier needs to collect, from these special cows, the flowery semen that flavors their best-selling, exotic ice cream flavoring. Of course, the cows do not produce the semen, but the company takes the what is left over in the cow vaginas, after some intercoursal bouts with a hired Singaporean bull. In order to really get a full, rounded bouquet, bull semen absolutely needs to mix with female hormones for an hour. For a supplier of exotic flavors, it is always difficult to deliver consistently, and Baskin Robins aims to maintain a 31-flavor minimum, every...single... day. If it can't, then that will not agree exactly with the name and tag line. Which is sort of bad! Maybe. I feel like it should have at least 31 flavors. Otherwise I would just sue them for aforementioned things and such and such.
Incidentally, Basking Robbins do actually mitigate the stress created by the 31-flavor-expectation; a by product of the Randomization of Flavors Taskfoce...
In the mid 1970s they discovered that people tended to refer to the ice creams by a number - the number they were ordered in the freezers. Baskin Robbins feared that the subconscious feelings their customers had for specific numbers would influence their choice of ice cream.
"If our customers like the number 7 more than any other number, they will select ice cream in tub 7, regardless of the flavor of ice cream in tub 7. It is terrible!"
There was definitive proof of this in 1979. Samwot Bilsey, then a Baskin Robbins Venice Beach new-hire, unknowingly placed the Pistachio tub in the 12th tub location one summer morning. Tub 12 was the place where the ultra-popular Moose Fax had been since the opening of that Venice Beach location. Managers were baffled at the results. Veritably, the change to tub 12 boosted the popularity of Pistachio to levels Pistachio flavors all over the world had never experienced. Pistachio is, and has always been, a gentleman's ice cream: not mainstream, reserved in flavor, cool disposition, and very substantial when you have a real nutty one. "Pistachio Tub 12" climbed the popularity charts year after year, while only 6 locations down in location 18 (physically only 3 tubs away since there are two rows of tubs), the Moose Fax was losing popularity fast. Pistachio became the Venice Beach's favorite Baskin Robbins' ice cream flavor largely due to the popular number, 12. Location, location, location.
It was a sober lesson to learn for Baskin Robbins, (though satisfying from a research perspective) and an even tougher lesson for the supplier of Moos Fax. Sadly, after 2 years of this market, the family-owned supplier for Moose Fax, Family Animal Ice Cream, filed bankruptcy, unable to return from the loss after it had taken out several high-rate loans to pay for equipment to triple Moose Fax production, given how high the demand was two years earlier. Even with only eight employees, bureaucracy had riddled the company slow, and it had taken 2 years to request, process, and deliver the Moose Fax equipment. By that time it was too late. The employees practically sat and watched as the bureaucratic process creeped along while the market demand dived. A decision made yesterday is less effective today, and even less relevant tomorrow. The eight employees of this family-owned company went home to their different families and each began a new process of struggling. Only one of these employees was later hired by the then-fast-growing Baskin Robbins, and with much credit to his start-up work-ethic, he climbed up the career ladder to VP of the department for Predictions and Arbitrary Guesses. At this point, he famously announced:
"Our shops shall no longer place their ice cream tubs in the same order every day just because it makes it logistically convenient. We need to be shrewd and break this pattern, to ensure we do not bias our customers' decision. We need to support the truest customer choice. We need to think innovatively and maximize synergize while reducing costs, and innovation again. God bless you."
And thus the Randomization Taskforce's resolved to purchase a randomization device in each shop that spit out a new tub arrangement everyday. Even though several internal engineers complained that all the company really needed was a random number generator in HQ that emailed the tub arrangement to all the Baskin Robbins shops, upper management insisted it get a "professional" product created by a "company of engineers". Wait so what did I go to school for? asked everyone Baskin Robbins engineer, while licking their bi-monthly free scoop.
Indeed, a lot is at stake when a number is in a store's title. Baskin Robbins recognize this and changed their way of doing business to simultaneously prevent customer disappointment and ensure unbiased customer feelings. As a result, you shall never know how the ice creams at Baskin Robbins are ordered, nor which of the ice creams contains Sri Lankan-Singaporean, cow-bull semen.
To this day, Baskin Robbins is obsessed with numbers and still funds a graduate school fellowship program for students pursuing a doctorate in pure mathematics. Baskin Robbins - whose marketing department reads this as purée mathematics - aims to understand what numbers are currently people's. If they could just know that, then they can use big data and the cloud and thunder, to beat the bias before it affects sales. This is a profitable win for mainly the funded graduate students, who complete their Baskin Robbins' results within a month and exhaust their time navigating through various friendship phase spaces.
Truly, numbers are extremely important. The meaning of numbers are much, much less ambiguous than the meaning of words. I was having a drink at the bar, 1 Million Beers. They had the largest selection of beer I have ever seen. But 1 MILLION Beers? Definitely not. It was closer to 0 than 1,000,000. Thanks for the build-up. What a huge disappointment.
Then I spent $18 at a McDonald's drive-through, and, forgetting my nuggets, I drove away into the night.