This week’s photochallenge set by the chaps at WordPress, asks for numbers.

Looking about for ideas I thought of barcodes (an optical, machine readable representation of data, doncha know) and found many examples just by unpacking the shopping.

The very first scanning of the now ubiquitous Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode was on a pack of Wrigley Company chewing gum in June 1974.” (Wiki, I thank you)

A few evenings ago we were reminiscing about the old-fashioned grocer, green grocer, fish monger, butcher and hardware stores that every town had and I remember from the 60’s. In particular I remembered the specific smells each of them had.
Ask most UK children today about those types of shops and they don’t know about them. They have no need to know about them, in fact, as many supermarkets actually sell the lot, all under one roof.

When I was small Ma used to go out most days to the shops as she couldn’t store much in the under the counter fridge with it’s small icebox, which just about had room for an ice-cube tray and a cardboard block of ice-cream. By the time I was in my teens she had a chest freezer and big fridge and she worked, full-time: so shopping was reduced to once a week. By then she also had the labour saving devices we all expect today: an automatic washing machine being the one that springs to mind, instead of that awful twin tub.

So I give you the bar code as a representation of society’s change in the last few decades.

This code was on the back of a packet of apples.

I was really pleased to find that scientists have now discovered how to identify individual zebras using bar code technology. Which gives me an excuse for my favourite zebra joke –

Zelda the zebra who had lived her entire life in a zoo and was getting on a bit so the zoo keeper decided as a treat that she could spend her final years in bliss on a farm. Zelda was so excited, she got out of the horse trailer to see a huge space with green grass and hill and trees and all these strange animals. She saw a big fat weird looking brown thing and ran up to it all excited,

“Hi! I’m a zebra, what are you?”

“I’m a cow” said the cow.

“Right, and what do you do?” asked the zebra.

“I make milk for the farmer” said the cow.


The zebra then saw this funny looking little white thing and ran over to it. “Hi, I’m a zebra, what are you?”

“I’m a chicken,” said the chicken.

“Oh, right, what do you do?” asked the zebra.

“I make eggs for the farmer.” said the chicken.

“Right – o, great, see ya round.”

Then the zebra saw this very handsome beast that looked almost exactly like her without the stripes. She ran over to it and said,

“Hi, I’m a zebra, what are you?”

“I am a Stallion,” said the stallion.

“Wow,” said the zebra. “What do you do?”

“Take off your pajamas darling, and I’ll show you.”

Author: Sarah

No time to lose. No, time to lose. Make time to stand and stare.... Did you see that?

12 thoughts on “Barcoded”

  1. What I love about this site, is that people point me to articles that I would never be aware of. Thanks for the link to the bar-coded zebras!

  2. Very amusing Nym.

    Supermarkets, yes, very handy but somehow it distances one from the goods in question. Shame really, not much personal contact and no smells or atmosphere. Very sanitised. I like to use local shops and I’m a regular visitor to the butcher, but there aren’t many greengrocers left.

  3. When I was quite small, (I am now quite big) my much older brother put me into my mother’s chest freezer.

  4. We used to buy, yellow sulphur and saltpeter from out local grocer, who was also the local chemist. We made the charcoal ourselves. It involved taking a can of ‘Old Fashioned Fruit drops’, which you filled with dry grass. Replace the lid into which you make a hole with a nail and then chuck it into the fire. Once the steam has blown dry, remove the can and you have pure charcoal which you mix with the ingredients you bought from the chemist an ‘woila’ (as the Americans say) you have gunpowder! Goodness life was exciting when I was a child. Amazing that any of us survived!

    Next week learn all about holding a flame to an aerosol can and creating your very own flame thrower. Ideal for killing ants.
    Petrol, does sniffing it really make you high?
    Snakes, love them or loath them, how do you tell if they are lethal. (Hint, make sure you have a younger brother).

  5. Crikey, Sipu! I hope it wasn’t one of those old sorts that had a locking handle….

  6. It was very old, like me. Not only that, it had a heavy lid that required some serious weight lifting skills to open. That particular brother is best known for tying up another brother and his mate to a pole. He then took my Dad’s Colt 45 service revolver and played Russian Roulette. He claims, even today that he could see where the live round (bullet) was and that they were not at risk, but it did not stop them from wetting themselves. Considering that he once confused a Jersey calf (which he shot) for a Reedbok, I am not sure that his judgement stood up to scrutiny.

  7. Sipu, sounds like my childhood. My brother used to chase me round the fields with a sodding great scythe, hacking at my legs.
    You could buy anything you liked from shops in those days, make all sorts of things. We used to have a copy of the National Formulary with all the recipes, an unexpurgated version!
    We used to smelt lead up the woods.
    Shops are only full of substandard crap these days, and boring crap at that.

    My son used to regularly dynamite the headwaters of the Towy, quite why I have no idea, but I got very fed up with finding sticks of dynamite under his bed, not a good idea to ram the hoover in there with any degree of force!
    Sticks of dynamite are good currency in Wales from the forestry, they are bartered for all sorts of good and services. He used to acquire it for ‘electrical services’.

    Any self respecting human scrumps their apples, sod the barcode! My mother got so fed up with kids breaking the trees, she spoilt all the fun by putting boxes of apples at the gate with a notice telling people to help themselves!

  8. Hi Christina, I am glad somebody identifies. I cant say we ever had your genuine dynamite, but we did have army Thunder flashes. Boy can they make a mess, not to mention a bang.

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