So this morning as I emerged from the Copley Square T stop on my way to work, I found myself walking through a group of people dressed all in white and orange, holding streamers, and in some cases wearing clown noses.

Cirque Du Soleil Dancer Cirque du Soleil Dancer
A dancer with the Cirque du Soleil in Copley Square at 7:30 am draws the attention of the commuting public. Photo copyright ©2008 Michael A. Burstein.

It turned out to be the Cirque du Soleil, promoting their show Kooza, which is opening today in Boston at the Bayside Expo Center. One of the performers gave me a flyer and a CD-ROM about the show, and told me that they'll be wandering around Boston all day. So look around; maybe you'll spot them.

(I have to admit that I had odd feelings about posting this. On the one hand, it seems like I've been sucked into helping them with their marketing. On the other hand, they did entertain me this morning, and the dancer above was willing to pose for the picture, so I figure they deserve whatever extra publicity I could give them.)
So yesterday, as I was leaving work and walking to the T, I spotted a person dressed in a giant watermelon costume. There were a few people hanging around the water in bright pinkish-red T-shirts, wearing caps and carrying tote bags, clearly filled with some sort of swag. So as usual, for you, my gentle readers, I approached the watermelon and picked up some swag. (Surprisingly, they weren't handing things out very aggressively.)

I ended up with three pieces of Wrigley's Extra Sugarfree (yes, they spell it as one word) Gum in the Cool Watermelon flavor. Apparently it is a new flavor they wish to promote. Now I don't like gum, so even if this were certifiably kosher, I would decline to try it.

I've left my pieces on the chair of the Official MABFAN's Musings Non-Kosher Swag Food Taster this morning. I have no idea if she would be willing to try it, but if she is, we'll have a report.

And let me just add -- given the humidity, yesterday was not the day to be parading around Boston in a watermelon costume.
My wife receives swag at Dawes Landing!:

Yesterday, as I was heading to the 66 bus, there was a pair of young men (I'd say early to mid-20s) offering people bottles of cold water. They were very polite, asking simply, "Would you like a bottle of water," nothing else. I accepted the offer of water (I never turn down water in the summer), and only discovered then that along with the bottle of water they were handing out a business card for Hope Fellowship Church in Porter Square, Cambridge...
Those of you desperate to know what the Official MABFAN's Musings Non-Kosher Swag Food Taster felt about the Zoe's Chocolate Delight Bar from June 27 need wait no longer! For the rest of this follow-up report, I turn the blog over to [ profile] saxikath:

"I prefer my bars crunchy, like Luna or Pria bars. In that department, this bar was better than, say, a Balance bar, with its gummy texture. The flavor was fairly ordinary. It didn't taste especially chocolatey to me, but it didn't taste awful either. In sum, I probably wouldn't buy them, but I wouldn't avoid them either (which I do with Balance bars and other non-crunchy ones)."

And there you have it. Now to see if I can get her to try this Atkins thing I got today...
So at 7:15 AM, as I emerged from the Copley Square T station, I was offered more swag: an Atkins Advantage High Protein Chocolate Chip Granola Bar, along with a flyer extolling its virtues.

Sad to say, being kosher is not among its virtues, so I can't actually try the bar and share my opnion. But I can share some of the Nutrition Information found on the packaging:

Calories: 220
Fat Cal.: 80
Total Carb.: 18 g

As for the flyer, well, apparently "High Protein, High Fiber, Low Sugar [and] Great Taste" is the Atkins Advantage, and a table comapring the bar to other nutrition bars claims that this is "A Difference You Can Feel!"

Now to find a co-worker who wants it...
Can it be? Yes it is!

It's the return of The Copley Square Swag Report!

Today, on my way back from lunch, I spotted a few people at a table on the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth Sts., giving out products from Zoe Foods. The products they provided to me included a Zoe's Chocolate Delight Bar and a packet of Zoe's Flax and Soy Honey Almond Granola Cereal.

I had already walked past the table, but then I remembered you, my readers, and how much you depend upon The Swag Report. So I did a one-eighty and went back to the table for the products. Because I keep kosher, I examined the two packages but found no certification symbol on either one. So I asked the young woman who had provided me the food the following:

"What's in it?"

"Soy, protein, fiber..."

"Is it kosher?"

That stumped her. However, one of the other folks behind the table assured me that the cereal was kosher, but the bar wasn't.

"I don't see a certification on the cereal," I said.

"You'll find it on the website," he replied.

And he was right. If you click the link above for the cereal, you'll find an OU-D next to the Nutrition Facts and under the Ingredients list. Major kudos to the company for making sure one of their people had a ready answer to my question about kashrut. (I should also note that he reminded me a second time that the bar wasn't kosher; he didn't want me to eat it accidentally. I assured him that if it wasn't, I would give it to a friend.)

As for the quality of the food...well, I can't eat the bar, so I have to find someone who wants to try it on my behalf and supply a report. As for the granola cereal, since I just ate lunch I'm not hungry for it yet. If I do choose to eat it, I'll let you know what I think.

Copyright © Michael Burstein
In my post Cows! Cows! Cows! I noted that at the time there was no good map of the where the cow statues could be found for Boston CowParade 2006. Since then, an official map has been published, but now a man named Harry Wolfson has created a Google Map for Boston CowParade 2006.

There do seem to be a lot of them mooing about in Copley Square, right near where I work. I wonder if they've come for the swag?

Copyright © Michael Burstein
There hasn't been much swag to report, I'm afraid.

Monday evening I got a flyer urging me to give up my lunch hour to save the seals.

And this morning, a lone woman was passing out copies of the Boston Globe at the southeast corner of Boylston and Dartmouth. The Globes came wrapped in a Starbucks Coffee insulating sleeve, since we all know how hot the news is today. The sleeve advertises the fact that Starbucks is giving away free coffee today from 10 AM to 12noon. All one has to do, I am told, is drop by.

In other words, my swag for this morning is a newspaper I already get and the promise of a free cup of coffee.

Pathetic. If Starbucks really wanted to brighten up my cold morning, they wouldn't send a lonely woman out to the corner to pass out newspapers and the promise of free coffee. They would send out a cart at every corner, and give away free cups of coffee directly. Hordes of grateful commuters would grab their coffee, warm their hands, drink down the smooth tasting beverage, and sigh with contentment.

Well, except for me. I don't drink coffee.

So this is my appeal to corporate America. Don't kill the Swag Report just as it's getting started! Get your people out to Copley Square every morning and give me something good to review!
I'm sorry to report that there was no swag being offered in Copley Square this morning.

In my more paranoid moments, I suspect that all the companies discovered my blog yesterday and have decided to discontinue their programs of passing out swag, because they have been cowed by the power of the Internet.

The irony, of course, is that this morning I really could have gone for a Quaker Breakfast Cookie.
Two days ago, I complained about companies forcing freebies on people as we commuted through Copley Square. An anonymous commenter replied that on his own commute, sometimes he would choose his route to pick up the freebies offered in Rockefeller Center and end up with treats for later in the day. He admonished me by noting, "Every so often there were some absolutely appropriate for first thing in the morning and it always started the day off on an upnote. Stop being such a curmudgeon."

(Brief note: Technically, anonymous commenting violates my journal policy as laid out on my User Info page, where I note the following: "Anonymous posters are requested to identify themselves in the body of their post. Posts from people not on the "Friends" list are screened until I have a chance to unscreen them." But in the end, it's my call, so I unscreened this one. And I think I know who it is anyway.)

Well, the last thing I want is to develop a reputation as a curmudgeon; I'm not old enough! So I've decided to take the commenter's advice. From now on, I'll pick up whatever freebies are being offered to me in Copley Square, and report on them here.

So today, as I emerged from the T, two people in advertising coveralls were passing out Quaker Breakfast Cookies, an oatmeal raisin cookie. That's right. Cookies aren't just for dinner anymore, now we can eat them for breakfast! I took two cookies and then crossed Dartmouth Street, where another person was handing out cookies. So I took two more.

And then I crossed Boylston Street, and wouldn't you know it, another person was passing out Breakfast Cookies! Yum! I snagged one more, giving me five.

(Just for the record, I was planning to link directly to Quaker's page advertising the Breakfast Cookie, but they don't have one, although they have individual pages devoted to many of their other products. Why not a page for the Breakfast Cookie if they're promoting it? The mind boggles.)

So I ask myself, what am I going to do with five Breakfast Cookies? On my way into my office building, I gave two of them to the security guards, leaving me with only three. And once ensconced in my cubicle, I examined the package. The cookies are OU-D kosher, so as a service to you, my readers, I tried one for breakfast.

What I got was a rather pedestrian oatmeal raisin cookie. I prefer chocolate chip, myself. According to the Nutrition Facts on the back, the cookie contained 180 calories, 40 of them from fat. It also had 200 mg of sodium, 30% of the RDA of calcium, 35% of the RDA of iron, and 5 g of fiber. The advertising on the front of the package claims that the cookie is a good source of fiber, and an excellent source of calcium and iron. I guess the Nutrition Facts bear that out, although it would have been nice to see a fiber breakdown between soluble and insoluble.

And to my anonymous correspondent, I'd just like to say that being handed a treat is one thing. On Monday, I was given a flyer advertising a sinus relief system which described in excruciating detail how to bend your head over the sink in order to properly stick the spout of the nasal wash pot into your nostrils. I don't know about you, but I don't consider that a treat.

And that's the swag report.

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