The annual Easter Outrage Hunt, wherein the tabloids find a supermarket stocking chocolate eggs and hot cross buns at an unreasonably early point in the year, has already struck gold. The Murdoch papers are today reporting that some Coles and Woolworths stores are already marketing Easter-specific product, much to the disgust of ‘several’ unnamed readers.
On the one hand, it is patently absurd to begin stocking Easter perishables in the first week of the year.
The Herald-Sun reported that some early-bird shoppers planned to freeze their Hot Cross Buns due to their 24 hour shelf life, the logic of which threatens to give me an aneurysm.
On the other, our righteous anger at the retailers may be misdirected. Coles wouldn’t be flogging Cadbury Crème Eggs a week after Christmas if there wasn’t customer demand. Supermarkets aren’t in the business of dedicating valuable shelf space and merchandising to products that won’t sell.
So who, then, are the ungodly folk buying them? These are the people that really anger us, the ones responsible for us being confronted by aisles of molded chocolate animals when we’re still shaking off the New Year’s hangover. Do we hate them for being weak-willed, giving in to chocolate temptation months too soon? Are we jealous? Are we worried that we’ll get confused and think it’s already April?
In truth, the problem is in our selves. Why is the time of year that a particular kind of buns get baked a source of ‘outrage’? Why should we care what other people want to buy, and when? None of us are forced to purchase chocolate eggs in January, nor are these early buyers going to cause retailers to be out of stock by the time we do want them.
The armchair psychologist in me believes that the core of our annoyance stems from our failure to understand why another person would want Easter goods at the ‘wrong’ time. We want others to conform to the social mores, rituals and habits that we ourselves are comfortable with, because that makes them comprehensible and predictable to us. When we cannot fathom another’s intentions – when they transgress - they become a potential threat.
Think of the young man who carries an open container of alcohol on public transport, or in the street. Even if his behavior is totally innocuous, you will usually detect a sense of apprehension in the people around him. He’s breaking a rule – what other rules might he break? Similarly, the woman at Woolies pushing a trolley full of chocolate rabbits before Australia Day makes us nervous. That makes no sense. She might be a serial killer.
The opinions expressed in The 7PM Side Project blog do not necessarily reflect those of The 7PM Project or the Ten Network.