On a recent return trip back from New Hampshire, we stopped to put gas in the car. While filling the tank, I noticed an advertisement on the pump designed to entice customers to come into the store. The sign read,

“We have your essentials,”

It then listed these “essentials.” It struck me that their concept of “essentials” was skewed. According to Websters and other dictionary sources, essential is defined as,

Absolutely necessary; indispensable, i.e., discipline is essential in an army.
pertaining to or constituting the essence of a thing.
noting or containing an essence of a plant, drug, etc.
Being such by its very nature or in the highest sense; natural; spontaneous, i.e., essential happiness.
A basic, indispensable, or necessary element; chief point: Concentrate on essentials rather than details.

It seemed to me whoever created the sign had a warped sense, or had never read the definition, of essential as evidence by their choice of one item included in the list.

The first item listed was bread. This made sense. In a dire emergency, one can survive on bread.

The second item was milk. Again, a reasonable choice for essentials to be shared with all.

The third item was toilet paper. No argument there. Since the demise of telephone books, the yellow pages, and Sunday newspapers, toilet paper availability is critical. On the Appalachian Trail (have I mentioned I hiked the trail? All 2184 miles?) toilet paper is currency.

stack of toilet paper rolls
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

There is no more “essential” need than toilet paper on a muddy trail for one suffering from overactive bowels or other gastrointestinal distress.

The last “essential” had me confused, Frozen Pizza. If essentials are critical during challenging times, frozen pizza doesn’t register as an item I would seek.

Now, don’t get me wrong, before my wife civilized me, I had a freezer full of all sorts of frozen “essentials.” Pizza, meat pies, Twinkies (always better frozen.) I may have had an aluminum pan of stuffed shells in there as well (the one meal I knew how to make) but generally survived on fast food, Cheez-its, pistachios, and the charity of others who could cook.

It is not the frozen pizza that troubled me; I’m not that much of a food snob. It was the inclusion of frozen pizza on this list of essentials. It seemed a contradiction.

Then again, if someone is following the advice on the essentials of life from a sign on a gas pump they may have more severe issues, and frozen pizza won’t solve them.