I bought myself a cookie pan the other day. Let's pause a moment while those who know me take a few seconds to get off the floor and back on their seats. Obviously, I don't bake cookies; these things are flat-ish roasting pans and I use them to heat up chips/french fries, and when we're going away, I fill them with water and stand plants in them. I did that recently and now all my err, cookie trays are rusty. I couldn't bake cookies on them even if I had the urge.
Anyway, as I said, I bought a new one, which gave my kids false expectations of suddenly having a mother like the ones on the TV ads. You know them - they rub noses with small children, never shout when anyone spills anything because they always have extra absorbant kitchen roll to hand, and their kitchens are sunny, happy places even in the middle of winter. No, that wouldn't be me. Suck it up kids.
As I peeled off the label, I noticed what I first took to be a small novella on the back. I then remembered I'm in the USA, the land of litigation, so naturally everything you do or buy comes with a waiver and a warning. Every party my 5 year old goes to has to have a waiver on file before he can so much as bounce on a castle. No child can attend a sporting lesson without you signing away their rights to anything and everything. And this cookie pan was no exception. "Important Safety, Use and Care Information", it announced importantly.
Given that I am wont to wash things incorrectly (including I-pods) I thought I should give it the once over. (This is usually where you discover that the bargain you thought you had isn't actually dish-washer proof). Even though I've lived here 19 years, the national fear of litigation always amazes me, and this label lived up to all expectations:
Bullet point number one under "Baking" alerted me thus-
Keep small children away from the oven while you are baking.
No, really. Is this only when I'm using this particular type of cookie tray or in general? Actually, if I'm using a cookie tray, they are apt to gather round just in case there's a chance I'm baking (horror movie screams in the background) so perhaps I am more at risk than the average mother.
And then it continued-
Some pets, especially birds, have extremely sensitive respiratory systems and should be kept away from the kitchen area.
What? Are they seriously expecting that, should I let the hypothetical parakeet fly around the kitchen (in itself an unhealthy situation I think), I would think to sue the manufacturer of the cookie sheet that just happened to be inside the oven at the time it croaked? Why not sue the people who make the lights that go on and off when you open the over door? Or perhaps the flour mill that was responsible for the cookie ingredients? Or the appliance company itself? Surely they, more than any other company, would be responsible for the demise of said bird with extremely sensitive respiratory system? And does this warning only apply to domestic birds and small animals? We have a lot of rats in the alleys and small birds hopping around the back garden. If I leave the windows open, am I endangering them, and if so, am I covered against a feral class action law suit?
Back to the important safety instructions, which then informed me to-
Use caution when handling hot bakeware and always have potholders available for use.
Yes, well ever since my first Xmas as a married woman, (with new in-laws as witness) during which I had to sit thrugh the entire meal with my right hand in a bowl of cold water, because I'd taken a casserole pot out of the oven and removed the lid without a bloody potholder, I think I know about caution.
And I'm still not exactly sure why a cookie tray manufacturer feels the need to lay this all out. Are they really that concerned about my welfare? If so, I think they should extend their information, thus:
-Wear matching underwear just in case you are hit by something. (You will of course, be able to sue whoever hits you, even if you are wondering around with headphones and your head in the clouds. However, if you're caught with your big knickers on amidst sexy ER doctors, you can add to the "pain and suffering" element of your lawsuit.)
- Lock your doors at night. We, as makers of cookie trays, are sick and tired of people living in what they think are safe towns, waking up to dead parakeets and announcing in distressed and surprised tones - "This type of thing doesn't happen in our town."
- Don't drink and drive. Not that this has anything to do with baking, but it's just plain wrong. Oh, and it's illegal. And, by the way, if you hit anyone you're in deep doo-doo.
And then, of course, at the very bottom of the legal stuff came the piece de resistance (big French accent please):
- Although bakeware (that's what it's called) is dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended.
Ah - A stake in the heart.