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Greatest invention since sliced bread?

I can’t exactly recall where I heard it or read it – maybe I dreamed it – but apparently someone out there in the food service industry has developed a crustless bread.

Gee, what’s next – charcoal with lighter fluid already added?

Yea, I know there are those little briquettes on the market with the fluid conveniently buried within. That’s the gist of this column – we’ve become a society that is reliant on snappy products that proclaim to turn our miserable lives into one, big, happy, smiley face.

We’re getting way too soft. No longer do we change our own oil, mow our lawns, wash our cars or clean our homes. Thusly, the service industry – Zippy Oil & Lube, Billy Bob’s Lawn Care, Mr. Squeaky’s Auto Shine and Dust-Busters – is now a booming business.

No longer do we have time to perform these chores. We’re way too busy in our professional lives to even think about undertaking this type of menial labor. Heck, the closest some of us now get to a lawnmower is when we see the greens-keeper mowing the back nine at the golf course.

Coming home after a long day at the office and fixing a home-cooked meal is simply out of the question. Why stay in the kitchen and miss the latest round of American Idol when you can pop some type of pre-cooked dinner into the microwave, nuke it for a couple of minutes and, presto, a gourmet meal fit for a King.

The notion of someone placing crustless bread on the market heightened my sense of curiosity. I don’t do the grocery shopping in my family – if I did, we’d be consuming nothing more than chips, dip, popcorn and Mountain Dew – but I had to see, first-hand, what types of products are now on the grocery store shelves.

The bread aisle was like taking a trip around the world. There’s French bread, Italian bread, San Francisco Sourdough, New York-style Jewish rye and Texas Toast to go along with Wheat, Whole Wheat, Honey Wheat, Premium Butter, Cinnamon Raisin, Grain, Whole Grain, Seven-Grain, Oak Nut, Caraway Seed and Dill.

And what would you like between those slices? My favorite is a nice slab of creamy peanut butter. They still sell that, right? Sure they do, but along with crunchy style, extra crunchy, low sodium and, for those real lazy folks, peanut butter than comes in a jar pre-mixed with grape jelly.

Say you like a luncheon meat sandwich? Do you want that thin-sliced, thick-sliced, deli-sliced or oven-roasted?

How ’bout a handful of good, old-fashioned Honey Graham Crackers to go with that sandwich? Even these tasty little critters have undergone a metamorphous – Cinnamon grahams, oatmeal crunch and, yikes, chocolate grahams.

Let’s pass on the Grahams and grab a simple bag of potato chips. But before we can toss a bag of plain chips in the cart, we must first sort through the likes of those flavored with sour cream, barbecue sauce, mesquite, chili and spice, sour cream and onion, cheddar, salt and vinegar and ranch dressing.

If my wife does allow me to cook, about the only thing I can safely prepare without burning down the house is Hamburger Helper. My favorite is the Cheeseburger Macaroni, but, low and behold there’s a vast array of other flavors – Bacon Cheeseburger, Double Cheese Pizza, Cheesy Hashbrowns, Cheddar and Broccoli, Four Cheese Lasagna, Chili Cheese and Philly Cheesesteak. What’s all this fascination with cheese?

There’s even Tuna Helper and Chicken Helper. What’s next, Herring Helper?

If you do decide to skip the &uot;help&uot; and simply pan fry a slab of dead cow, pig or chicken, would you like that smothered in gravy? Forget about creating homemade gravy, that takes away from catching the latest version of Deal or No Deal. Just grab a pack of tasty powered gravy mix – beef, pork, chicken, onion, mushroom, herb or turkey flavored. Just take your pick!

Now I’m just hankering for dessert, maybe a nice pan of brownies. But will it be brownies with caramel and pecans, walnut, double fudge, triple fudge or chocolate chips? Darn it, they’re out of the Double Cheese and Bacon brownies with broccoli spears!

I’ve just gotta have something to wash all this food down with. Do I want a soft drink with a lemon twist or cherry flavoring? Nah, I’ll just drink some water. But what type of H2O – natural spring, clear mountain spring, lemon-lime black cherry, peach or strawberry flavored, premium natural spring, Alpine spring or Fitness water (that one is low sodium and caffeine free)? Gee, I didn’t know water contained caffeine.

After polishing off the meal, it’s time to rake the scraps into the trash. But what kind of bag is best suited for this task. Should I purchase the ones with the quick ties, the cinch sacks, the handle ties, the easy flaps, or the brand new gripper bags? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

What if I spill something on my clothes? What will get out those ugly stains? I’m glad you asked because there’s washing powder for colored clothes and your basic whites. Do you want that to smell spring fresh, mountain fresh, a gentle breeze, outdoorsy or like a rainshower? Pardon me for asking, but what does a gentle breeze smell like?

Now I’ve worked up a sweat washing and drying my clothes; I need to take a quick shower before heading off to bed. What kind of soap should I use – regular bar soap that comes in various fragrances and colors or should I opt for the anti-bacterial liquid soap? How ’bout some nice, moisturizing body wash?

After my recent trip to the grocery store where I discovered products I never knew existed, now I can understand why we can ill-afford to come home and cook a meal from scratch – we spend all our time at the supermarket trying to find what we really need, even if it’s a loaf of crustless bread.