The typo that made me laugh out loud

Can you spot what’s wrong with this Staples.com ad?

Most typos are neither interesting nor funny, but last night I happened on one that set me giggling uncontrollably. Maybe I was just in need of a good giggle (perfectly possible!), but you can judge for yourself:

Staples sells such a bewildering variety of products that I had to read the ad about 3 times, asking myself if I’d accidentally stumbled on a supply house catering to birders or ornithologists. You see, I know that people on country estates buy all sorts of amazing contraptions designed to let birds feed while keeping squirrels out (not always entirely successfully, I might add).

And even though crows aren’t exactly the darlings of the bird world, still it didn’t tax my imagination to picture the fabulously well-to-do investing in special cups that large crows would fancy drinking from at cocktail hour. It’s probably that mental image, entertained so credulously by me, that caused the fit of laughter once the magic was dispelled.

Add but a single ‘d’ to the ad copy, and suddenly it make sense:

Serve cold drinks to large crowds with these Medline disposable plastic cold cups.

Crows be damned! They can fetch their own drinks…

I’m reminded of an anecdote penned by the most excellent Sumangali Morhall in her spiritual memoir Auspicious Good Fortune. Of her childhood, when ‘telephone calls abroad came at royal prices,’ and the family would record cassette tapes to send to her grandparents, she writes:

‘Nanny, the humming birds come and drink the drink! We fill their feeder up with red drink because they like red. Their beaks are long and go right inside, and they’re very small and green and shiny and their wings go so fast you nearly can’t see them. That’s what makes them hum. Like bees.’

Apparently, there’s some debate about whether hummingbird red nectar is really good for hummingbirds. If you’ve gotten your hummingbird to quit smoking by reading the warnings on the pack, then maybe they should put such warnings on red drinks, including Big Red and a bunch of purported health drinks containing nothing but water and red dye #3. (Any resemblance to real nutrients, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

Those training for the Hummingbird Olympics will want to steer clear of red drinks with added sugar, and stick with 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice. Hummingbird vampires naturally have a wider selection at their disposal. As for hummingbirds who write poetry — known more formally as hummingbards — they’ll drink almost anything. In fact, they’ll drink you under the table.

This article goes so far as to suggest that red dye nectar might be killing hummingbirds: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/news/a43485/red-dye-hummingbird-nectar/. So play it safe, folks. Anything that lacks the Good Hummingbird Seal of Approval, put it in the shed next to the old paint remover. And leave the crows to fend for themselves.

As for Staples products, I’ve revised my opinion of them. They’re definitely not for the birds!

Of Further Interest

Auspicious Good Fortune (free audiobook!)

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2 comments on “The typo that made me laugh out loud

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