For what it’s worth, I do try to keep my opinions to myself here. My job is to give you the objective truth and let you draw the conclusions. You get enough bias everywhere else.

Admittedly, sometimes I show my cards. I’ve made it abundantly clear that men are the source of the world’s problems. Everyone has a civic duty to get vaccinated, if they can. And diversity is unequivocally great. 

Maybe you disagree with those things. You’re wrong. 

Here are six other incontrovertible takes I’m belligerently passionate about right now:

Bagels are absolutely the worst sandwich vessel. If it’s any kind of quality bagel, biting into it will inevitably squeeze all the innards out the sides. Use a croissant, a muffin, even plain old white bread. Something squishy. Anything but a bagel.

Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival is singularly the best American rock song of all time. It’s three short verses, no frills, the socio-political commentary is timeless, it has a perfect hook, and the key Fogerty sings it in is superhuman. It’s the clear #1. I won’t be taking questions at this time.  

Side note: CCR might also be the greatest American rock band, if you measure by the sheer depth of their recognizable song library. Try it. Still, I can’t put this on my “undisputable” list because the Eagles and Aerosmith are (marginally) defensible. 

Puppies are assholes. The girls talked us into getting another Aussie (Toby) last month to join his 3-year-old brother (Wilson). I can’t tell if Toby’s sleep disruption, messes, chewing, and biting are worse than Wilson’s, or if it’s just less tolerable because I’m older. In any case, I’m a sucker. And tired.

Golfers should get a free drop if their ball comes to rest in a preexisting fairway divot. This is an obscure take, I admit. But I feel strongly enough to share it, plus it’s golf season. Surely the serious golfers among you agree. Otherwise, feel free to unsubscribe. You’re dead to me. 

Whoever invented the packaging for fishing hooks has a special place in hell waiting for them, where all they do is try to remove hooks from the packaging. Also obscure, but if you know, you know. And I’m fishing this weekend, so it’s top of mind. 

Finally, speaking of fish, I’m going to beat the drum about shrimp tails for the millionth time because until the heinous practice is completely eradicated, I won’t be silenced. There is no justifiable reason to ever, ever leave the tails on shrimp in a plated, saucy dish. It’s barbaric. Boycott any restaurant that does this.

Glad to get all that off my chest.

Here’s what we’re seeing: 

Consumer confidence is in a lousy place. Our Economic Sentiment Index plunged to a 2021 low this past week, as confidence in major spending categories and the overall U.S. economic outlook soured. We haven’t seen declines this steep since March of 2020 – which tells me consumer confidence right now is less about real economic factors and more about rising fears of a COVID resurgence. Proliferation of the Delta variant, combined with the realization that we may have exhausted most of our willing vaccine recipients far short of our goal, has people feeling nervous. Sigh. 

Like I said, people are feeling nervous about COVID again. Things were looking so good there for a while, but maybe people were spiking the football before we made it to the end zone. Now it just looks like a fumble. Stay vigilant, people.

Inflation concerns seem to be cooling. 
Supporting my theory that consumer confidence is more about COVID than the economy at the moment, people seem to be freaking out less about inflation. What we don’t know yet is whether this is a leading or lagging indicator of overall economic sentiment. Stay tuned. 

We can say definitively that people were much happier working from home. Overall job happiness in America has been plummeting, not coincidentally, starting right around the time people started venturing back into the office. Since April, the percentage of U.S. adults who say they are unhappy in their current job has – literally – doubled. If you’re one of those companies that rigidly requires your workers to return to the office, Godspeed. On another note, in the same study (which you should read), we also asked people whether they have the job they wanted as a kid, and the results were fascinating. Sadly, my hopes of being an NFL quarterback have been dashed.

The pandemic had a noticeable and erosive effect on the survey panel industry. This is inside baseball for the market research folks out there – but I’ve always been pretty outspoken about my disdain for data derived from paid survey guinea pigs (this could have been hot take #7). Anyway, it’s gotten worse since the COVID lockdown, as a new group of people sat at home all day with nothing better to do than answer long surveys for $5. Sure, more people were participating, which is good, but they’re even less like the average population, which is bad. Look at a chart like this one, for example. Yikes.

Gap is getting into the home furnishings game and it might be just crazy enough to work. It hasn’t been the best run for mall-centric retailers like Gap for the past, oh, 20 years, but the brand still has a fair amount of equity. The company recently announced a home interiors line in partnership with Walmart and a respectable 20% of Americans are intrigued by the concept. It appears to be particularly appealing to younger consumers, which is music to the ears of both Gap and Walmart. Let’s see how it goes.

Meatless chicken nuggets might take the category to a new level. My opinion about plant-based meat products almost made my list of hottest takes in this week’s prologue, but I’m not the target market, so nobody cares. Anyway, 68% of vegans and vegetarians say they are interested in trying meatless chicken nuggets, which is a big number. Incidentally, vegans and vegetarians think they’re better looking than everyone else. Whatever.  

We did two more completely unrelated studies this week:

These were our most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Always; All of them; Ham and cheese; Love it; Depends on how far back I’m sitting.

Hoping you’re well.



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