Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Paper bag princesses

A couple of months back, I bought myself a snack at the Bread Factory and noticed, when I got home, that the paper bag they gave me had the words "EVELYN WHITE" printed on the bottom. This caught my attention because I happen to know an Evelyn White (probably not all that unlikely, statistically speaking), so I saved the bag to show it to her, but I didn't have any explanation for it. The bag was white, so I figured maybe "Evelyn" was the name for the shade of white or the style of the bag. Ladies' shoes have ladies' names; maybe paper bags do too. Who knows.

Well, this week I ordered food from two other 8th Avenue chains and brought home two more white paper bags with women's names (and recent dates) printed on the bottom. I am officially nonplussed by this phenomenon. From Bagel Stix:

And, a few days later, from Ray's Pizza:

Can somebody please explain to me what's going on here? Is each bag stamped with the name of the person who assembled it, like some sort of handcrafted treasure? That would seem out of proportion with the level of craftsmanship involved. Is this a private tribute to the women in someone's life -- like the "Nina"s hidden in a Hirschfeld drawing? Please, someone solve this mystery for me, because it has me so perturbed that I am taking pictures of paper bags. I fear I may be losing my mind. I fear it is only a matter of time before I turn over a bag and find my own name. Which would be spooky, in a baffling sort of way; I would feel like I was living in a very, very low-budget suspense thriller.

The latest: This morning's cheese danish (purchased at the deli in the building where I work -- subpar baked goods, but you can't beat it for convenience) came in a bag labeled "March 09 07 ROSA VILCHEZ." Curiouser and curiouser...

ETA: I am not the first to ponder this urban mystery... in fact, it's been covered on "All Things Considered"! I can't wait to listen when I get home. God bless the internet.

2 comments:

Ed said...

I have always been mystified by this! Would make a good character in a story, eh?

Marla said...

Perhaps they're birthdays of store proprietors' offspring? The names are stamped as opposed to printed, yes? Maybe it's a bodega tradition? "Here's your bagel — and a birth announcement," mayhaps?