Pardon Me, Would You Mind Not Comparing My Newborn Daughter’s Stool to Grey Poupon?

Doctor Sheiman,

I was in your office just this morning—with my wife and our five-day-old daughter (your actual patient)—and now that I have arrived at work I feel compelled to write you this brief letter to memorialize my thoughts and concerns on a subject of some sensitivity.

When discussing my child’s bowel movements in the course of her first proper pediatric visit, you remarked that healthy so-called “poop” should look “like mustard... like Grey Poupon.” It is this comparison specifically that I, as an employee of the multinational conglomerate that now manufactures and markets Grey Poupon® brand mustard, find objectionable, for the following reasons:

As an initial matter, as you are no doubt aware, “Grey Poupon” is a registered trademark, the exclusive property of Kraft Foods Inc. While general counsel for the company explained to me several times—each time to my surprise, I confess—that your reference to the company’s product without acknowledgment of its status as a trademark is in no way legally actionable, nonetheless I believe you should treat the mark with the respect it has earned in the years since its introduction in 1777 by Maurice Grey and his associate, Auguste Poupon. Perhaps a conspicuously posted statement in your waiting room to the effect that all trademarks referred to are the property of their respective owners would be appropriate. Please consider such a measure.

Even with a general disclaimer, however, I maintain that your reference to Grey Poupon® as a benchmark for the color and consistency of neonatal fecal matter is unseemly, if not inaccurate. I have to wonder if you do not bear Kraft Foods some ill will! I noted that when you mentioned alternative presentations of solid waste, you did not compare any of them to a consumer product, and certainly not one sold by a competitor of Kraft. For instance, you did not suggest that we might find in our daughter’s diaper something resembling French’s mustard or anything made by Heinz. For that matter, neither did you refer to Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread (Ferrero), Campbell Soup Company’s turkey gravy, or Jif peanut butter (The J.M. Smucker Co.) in any of its eight styles.

Moreover still, having changed several of my daughter’s soiled diapers since bringing her home from the hospital, I can state from first-hand experience that in fact her output looks very little, if anything, like Grey Poupon® brand Dijon style kosher mustard, although a sense of discretion prevents me from cataloguing here the differences between my company’s product and my daughter’s. Suffice it to say I think the comparison is not actually a useful one for parents with discerning taste in condiments.

Finally, on a purely personal note, I fear that your casual comparison might have a long-reaching effect on my own digestive well-being, inasmuch as I have, each day for the past twenty-three years, enjoyed for lunch a sandwich of Grey Poupon® on rye (no meat; just mustard). I worry that now I will not be able to remove the white lid from a distinctively-shaped 8-ounce glass jar of award-winning mustard made with white wine without being reminded of removing the disposable diaper from my daughter’s rear, to say nothing of what images actually spooning out the pungent paste might conjure in my mind. As it is still before noon as I write this, I can’t yet say just how profoundly I will be affected by the forced juxtaposition, but I confess that I am not looking forward to finding out. I suppose, however, that I am now relieved that my wife gave birth to a baby girl, as I also enjoy eating cocktail wieners very much, and I can’t even begin to imagine how upset I might have been to be unable to consume those as well.

Thanking you in advance for your anticipated consideration,
Andrew Stercus

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

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