The Bakery

Emma is fussy about what she will eat and drink.  The type of food is sometimes less important than the packaging.  If the packaging changes or varies, even a little the item is rejected.  As with so much in autism it is all about regularity and routine.  Emma is completely thrown by the unexpected when applied to things she is accustomed to.

For the past two years Vanilla Milk from Horizon has been on Emma’s top five list of favorites.  It’s the little milk in a white and purple box with plastic wrapped straw glued to the side.   Except Horizon changed the packaging about three months ago – the colors remain the same, as do the graphics, size, shape and even the little straw. What has changed is they no longer use a coating to make the little boxes appear ever so slightly glossy.  The boxes are now a bit flatter looking.  Honestly, it wasn’t until Emma stopped drinking them, that I realized they had changed.

When we arrived in Aspen, we had a case from Christmas in the mudroom with the original packaging and Emma immediately grabbed one.

“Vanilla Milk!”  she said with pleasure.

We are nearing the end of that case and so she will boycott them once again.  Not that I care much as they are one of the least healthy things she consumes, but I do mind that she won’t eat the Cheerios we buy here, haven’t figured out why.  We bring her special bread with us, which we cannot get out here and her jam, so it was with some dismay when she refused to eat any of those things this time out, as well.  Last night I asked her what she wanted for dinner.  I told her what I was having and asked if she wanted some.  She always answers no, so it wasn’t a big surprise when she again said, “No?” as though it were more of a question, than a statement.

“Okay, so what would you like?” I asked.

“Bread,” she announced and handed me two pieces of her bread, which she had buttered and placed together, like a butter sandwich.

“Oh!” I said with surprise.  “You don’t want it toasted?”

“Yes.  Toast.”  Emma said.  Then she handed the bread to me and said, “Put it in the bakery.”

“In the bakery?” I repeated, looking around, wondering what she meant.

“In the bakery?” she said again gesturing at the oven.

“Oh!  You mean the oven.  You want me to put it in the oven to warm.”  I am often amazed by Emma’s creativity in her choice of words.  She has seen me bake bread in the oven.  She knows bread comes out of the oven and more often comes from a bakery.

“Yes.  Make it nice and warm!” Emma said.

“In the oven,” I said.

“In the oven,” Emma repeated.

“We have to heat the oven first and then we can toast it.  But we have to get a cookie tray to put it on, otherwise the butter might drip out,” I told her.

When her bread was done, I opened the oven.

“You have to stand back,” Emma said sternly.

“It’s okay Em.  Here, I’ll take it out and you can take it to the table.”

After Emma ate her bread she said, “Another bread from the bakery?”

“Yes.   We can do that.  You make it and I’ll put it in the oven.”

“Make it nice and warm,” Emma said.

One response to “The Bakery

  1. This story is so interesting, it can be a case history for marketing courses. It’s the proof that packaging exploits the tendency of people to rely on routine, and a single detail che change the whole picture and impact differently on our decisions/emotions. In the case of an autistic person, the effect is dramatic, but it’s true for everyone, it’s just a matter of “how much”.

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