Once upon a time there was a cracker connoisseur who was named William Henry York or something like that. He had eaten crackers all his life, and soon came to realize there was more to crackers than being simply a salty snack. Lately, he was in search of a more sophisticated cracker. He had always been looking for one, but all those he had tried were old recipes. William was in search of something new, and exciting, so he set off away from home in search of a great cracker. His expectations were low; he knew “the best” was out of the question, but needed something which exceeded the norm.
Along came a man named Upsman Dateson, wishing to sell his crackers to all. Mr. Dateson was talking up his crackers to everyone: his new recipe was going to change the world, or at least the highly competitive cracker industry. William bought a package, and tried some immediately. He quickly spit it out, declaring, “this is perhaps one of the worst crackers I have ever consumed! In fact, I shouldn’t even call this trash a cracker! It is hard, despite being fresh, it has no flavor, the entire cracker crumbles when I bite, and there’s only 5 of them in the box. Your claims about the product are blatantly inaccurate, and if I had a life and/or money I would find a way to sue you for false advertising.” To this, Dateson responded, “Please don’t be upset. I don’t care at all about your opinion, and I’m not offering refunds, but I will make this up to you. Please wait a mere 2 weeks, and the fixed crackers you were advertised will be available to you by then. Now that we have your money, you don’t need to worry about us being unable to repair the product, since we already have your money.” William had lost all hope for this cracker upon the first bite, but he wanted a good cracker, and was willing to give this man another shot.
Dateson followed his promise, and delivered the crackers which he claimed fixed the previous problems. William begrudgingly tried the cracker again, and experienced the same problems. It was true that these crackers were improved: there were 7 in the box now, and the crumbling was kept to a minimum. These were not enough to even consider it mediocre. Confronting Dateson, William discovered the production had moved on to a new product. There was no chance of another fix, since any profits from initial release were lost in the process of fixing it. William moved on.
Then came a man named Denton Redfield Meer, but first I must tell you about the secret underground cracker black market which exists. It’s not as much a market as it is a space where multiple recipes are given out. These recipes are the same ones used to produce the crackers sold today. To obtain this, experts taste the cracker and use their skills to discover what ingredients are baked into the product. Through trial and error, a duplicate recipe is produced, and then shared among the community. It’s never completely perfect, and some extra footwork has to be done to get the illegal, free version. Even then, most fans of the cracker industry enjoy giving money to the cracker creators. After all, it is they who produce original, creative products, so there’s a level of respect from the black market toward the corporate industry.
So Mr. Meer decided to put an end to this black market. A cracker cannot be profitable unless it is actually bought, and every cracker which is illegally obtained, is another lost sale. His new product effectively prevented anyone from duplicating the recipe, guaranteeing no lost sales. William wasn’t too concerned about the innovation, since he rarely used the black market and never saw any cracker manufacturer being hurt by it. Upon buying and trying, William found the cracker mediocre. The texture was fine, but it tasted strange. More accurately, it didn’t taste. Mr. Meer decided to let William in on the secret to the cracker: “since the recipes are obtained through taste, I decided to not let people taste it at all! It’s foolproof, they’ll never get my recipe.” The customer replied, “They’ll never get your recipe because nobody will want it in the first place. Even then, people will eventually get it in the end, so the only people you harm are the people who pay.”
But William would not let a full box of crackers go to waste. He took out some cheese, with the intent to put them on the crackers. “Not so fast” said Mr. Meer, who had been following his first and last customer, “I can’t let you augment the product, that might let you discover how the cracker is made, by using certain foods that bring out the flavor in the Secret Ingredients.” The cracker instantly crumbled when William put cheese on.
Meer would also not let William feed the crackers to the birds: “Every single one of those birds needs to pay for their own crackers, it’s only fair”
Disgusted, William came across a farmer, transporting his harvest to the market. “Oh, you’re that cracker guy,” he said, “I’ve made some crackers on the side, trying my hand at it. I’d appreciate it if you could try some.” For only a tenth of the price of a normal box of crackers, William bought two. He had not found a single quality cracker since he left, and assumed they couldn’t possibly be worse than the two before. His assumptions were correct, but the bar was already set quite low. The crackers were merely mediocre, but they were at least edible.
William returned home and continued to eat crackers from when crackers were good.
If you didn’t get the analogy by now, please stop reading my articles.
Also published on Medium.