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Friday, April 08, 2011

#FridayFlash: Packaging Design

Mason puts just about anything in his mouth, and sometimes I wonder what he finds…

Packaging Design

Trials on adults have proven unsatisfactory, as expected. Young human children instinctively attempt to taste or eat small objects, so we can place Transcendence capsules at or near their accustomed feeding places.

“Whoa, Mack! What is that?” Dad pulled his baby son’s hands away from the table and looked at the two small objects he’d reached for — black cylinders, maybe a quarter-inch long and a third as wide. “Dried-up leftovers.” He picked them up with a napkin and threw them in the trash.

Standard Transcendence capsules do not resemble human food items, especially for those of the targeted age. Our designers are working on a new form factor.

Dad was watching the pictures, and Mack knew he was distracted. He slipped out of his dad’s lap and began exploring. He waddled around the room in front of Dad, picking up toys and dropping them. From experience, he knew that Dad would watch him for a short time, then he would have just a moment to properly explore.

After the fourth pick up and drop, Mack turned to look. Dad’s attention was on the pictures again, and it was noisy. He gave Dad his cutest grin, the one that always got a reaction from anyone watching, and got no response. A laugh bubbled up, but Mack knew to turn it into a talk sound. He stumped past Dad’s chair, still chattering, and over to the table.

Food! He reached down —

“Mack! What is that?”

Mack grabbed the morsel from the floor, put it in his mouth, and ran away laughing. Dad caught him, of course, but Mack had already swallowed.

The new form factor has proven successful. The trial subject has ingested the Transcendence capsule. Recommend immediate quantity production.


“That’s right. You want to read?”

Mack nodded, and Dad sat him on his lap and opened the board book. Such a smart baby, Dad thought, eleven months and he’s already talking.


  1. Why do babies always insist on eating whatever they see?!

    Excellent flash though. I liked the contrast of the dispassionate voice-over with Mack's train of thought.

  2. This can't be more than three hundred words. You use mad-scientist and dumb-baby tropes, but to go this far so little space is very impressive. It seems like the most impressive #fridayflash I've been reading lately all use less than half the allowed words. Maybe it's a phase in my head, but this is a great little trick, Mr. FAR. Enjoyed it - thanks for sharing.

  3. I am super-impressed with this flash. As John says, so few words but what a world you have created with them. If only our governments could learn to yield so much with such economy.

  4. Coincedently read this directly after a discussion about my baby daughters fixation with ramming her hand in her mouth. guess I have more worrying things to come. great flash, easily digestible.

  5. Ahhh, but transcendence to what exactly? I can't help thinking they're like bugs in a jar...

  6. Hey all!

    Icy, I think babies are natural-born scientists — they're always testing, always trying to learn, and they're not afraid to use themselves as test subjects!

    John, it was 321 words. And thanks much — I've always been impressed by people who can evoke an image with just a few pen strokes on a page… if I can do the verbal equivalent, I'm happy.

    Flyingscribber, I'm afraid we get exactly the government we want — I know people who *prefer* incompetents running the show!!!

    Adam, the baby algorithm is See, Reach, Grab, Chew. Until they've mastered the Grab part, they make do with chewing their fists. And yes, you're likely to find the occasional plastic bead in her diaper…

    Ganymeder, that's what makes short stories like paintings: you can project your own thoughts onto them! I'd like to think the italics are trying to move us on to the next stage.

    Thanks everyone, and please keep the comments coming!

  7. Great piece told with fabulous economy. Having miniature humans in the house I am still baffled why everything goes into the mouth. Just is, I suppose.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  8. This is great, a fun little skit that makes me curious. Just how I like it. =)

  9. I love the concept, very enjoyable. But I also love your descriptions. When I read "He gave Dad his cutest grin, the one that always got a reaction from anyone watching..." I could easily picture this baby putting on the charm. Such a great picture you've painted, with a touch of intrigue.

  10. Morning!

    Adam B, I think it's partly what I said to Icy above, babies instinctively experiment. And it's a way to learn what's food and what's not-food if they have to forage for themselves!

    Thanks, John. I think these really short sketches have to depend on the reader's imagination quite a bit.

    Chuck, thanks much — Mason provided a lot of background info for this, although I saw it a lot with the previous generation as well. He has a subtle streak his dad never did.

  11. And what will Mack be able to accomplish when he's two? Bwahaha! Great piece and I love shorter flash when done well, which this was!

  12. Thanks, Laura! I bet by the time he's two, Mack will be reading and starting to wonder whether he needs to hide what he knows…

  13. Great flash, I am rather un-nerved by babies who are far smarter than they have any right to be.

    I still have flashbacks to a horror film called "It's alive"

  14. I remember the posters for that movie, Steve: "There's only one thing wrong with the xxx baby…"

    The Boy (Mason's dad) was pretty exceptional. He started saying a few words when he was nine months old, and could use complete sentences before he was two. As I've said in other comments here, I think babies are smarter than they let on. The Boy was different in that he has no subtlety.

  15. I always thought babies were smarter than we gave them credit for - now I know why! Great story.

  16. Thanks, Juliet — and welcome to the free-range insane asylum here!

  17. Interesting piece, Far. I know that father's feelings all too well. And the form factor is apparently now perfected. Will there be more of this?

  18. A great story, economically executed. Babies, the world is their oyster!

  19. Howdy!

    Boran, I don't know if there will be more of this one or not. Depends… or Huggies, anyway!

    Thanks much, Helen. Not only is the world their oyster, they find pearls in the strangest places! ;-)


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