Pop-Tart blasphemy

This Pop-Tart commercial for their new Peanut Butter & Jelly line went past me this morning:

Well, I heard the peanut of peanut butter as penis, but that’s no surprise for someone of my inclinations. I noted it, to add to my file of mishearings, but decided not to post about it; I don’t post about each instance separately. But then along came the One Million Moms and their campaign to try to force Kellogg’s to withdraw the ad, or at least edit one line they found offensive because of its “foul language”. From their 10/15 posting, “Contact Kellogg’s Concerning ‘Jam It’ Ad”:

“No! Ah, Jam It!” The advertisement could have ended with “No!” but Kellogg’s chose to include a phrase that sounded just like a curse word.

It took me a while to see that they were talking about the blasphemous profanity Damn it! / Dammit!, which for me is the mildest sort of strong language. But they’re really serious Christians, who feel that children need protection from blasphemy, or allusions to blasphemy, in the media (in expressions with words like Christ, God, damn, and hell in them — OMG!).

OMM is a project of the American Family Association. From Wikipedia:

The American Family Association (AFA) is a United States non-profit organization that promotes fundamentalist Christian values. It opposes same-sex marriage, pornography, and abortion. It also takes a position on a variety of other public policy goals and has lobbied against the Employee Free Choice Act. It was founded in 1977 by Donald Wildmon as the National Federation for Decency and is headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi.

… AFA created One Million Moms and One Million Dads, two websites with the stated goal of mobilizing parents to “stop the exploitation of children” by the media. It uses these websites to organize boycotts and urge activists to send emails to mainstream companies employing advertising, selling products, or advertising on television shows they find offensive.

OMM is very easily offended, and rages extravagantly at the offenses it detects.

Now, about Pop-Tarts. From Wikipedia:

Pop-Tarts is a brand of rectangular, pre-baked, convenience food toaster pastries that the Kellogg Company introduced in 1964. Somewhat similar to a contemporary English mince pie tart, Pop-Tarts have a sugary filling sealed inside two layers of rectangular, thin pastry crust. Most varieties are also frosted. Although sold pre-cooked, they are designed to be warmed inside a toaster or microwave oven. They are usually sold in pairs inside foil packages, and do not require refrigeration.

… Pop-Tarts are produced in dozens of flavors, plus various one-time, seasonal, and “limited edition” flavors that appear for a short time.

Pop-Tarts are not very photogenic. But here are some S’mores Pop-Tarts:


The package for one of the new PJ&B Pop-tart flavors:


And a still from the commercial:


A complication. For me, jam it and damn it don’t rhyme with one another — possibly a reason why I didn’t see the allusion to the curse word right off. I am one of many Philadelphia (and Philadelphia-influenced) speakers for whom so-called “short-a raising” (yielding raised, tensed variants of the phoneme /æ/ in certain phonetic contexts) applies only in certain specific words and not in others, yielding a split between a lower, lax vowel I’ll transcribe as /æ/ and a raised, tense vowel I’ll transcribe as /Æ/, with the result that the slogan “Don’t get mad, better get Glad” doesn’t rhyme: mad has /Æ/, but Glad has /æ/.

More to the current point: for me, damn has /Æ/, but jam has /æ/, so in my productions, jam it! doesn’t sound like damn it!. (In the commercial, the speaker clearly has [Æ], quite possibly because for her, short-a raising applies across the board, as it does for many Americans. A larger point here is that the relationship between a speaker’s productions and their perceptions is very complex.)

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