Just when I finally got over my fear of its creepy royal mascot, Burger King had to go and introduce the Halloween Whopper, perhaps one of the least appetizing things I’ve ever seen. It has a black bun. Why? Because it’s infused with A.1. sauce, which the restaurant chain says turns the bun black. (Seems like the A.1 alone wouldn’t do it; however, it’s been many years since I had chemistry, and you know what I don’t like to think about with my fast food? Science.)
“While the pitch-black bun gives the Halloween Whopper sandwich a look that may make some think ‘hmmmmm?’ the burger’s classic A.1. flavors will have tasters saying ‘mmmmm,'” said Burger King.
Or in my case, “Mmmmm, no.”
I get that it’s Halloween and that Burger King is trying to think outside the box without necessarily thinking outside the bun, but what next? A green bun on St. Patrick’s Day infused with wasabi? And then this quote from the company: “While the green bun on the ‘sandwich’ may make some think, “Mold?” the burger’s cutting-edge wasabi flavors will have tasters saying, “Bold!”
That billion-dollar idea right there? It’s all yours, Burger King. You’re welcome.
But enough about the Halloween Whopper. In honor of tomorrow, I thought we’d talk about “scare quotes.” Also called “shudder quotes” and “sneer quotes,” this lesser-known punctuation technique places quotation marks around a word or phrase to signal that a term is being used in a nonstandard, ironic, or otherwise special sense. See how I put “sandwich” in single quotes two paragraphs ago? Those single quotes are scare quotes.
Here are a few other examples:
- My “friend” forced me to listen to Toad the Wet Sprocket every day on our commute to Eastern back in 1993. (Yes, they’re a good band, but every day? Torture.)
- Donald Trump’s “hair” is the subject of much ridicule.
- These “brownies” contain black beans and apple sauce. (This recipe actually exists. Don’t try it.)
The quotes essentially replace the phrase “so-called.” You could eliminate the quotes and add “so-called” before each of the examples, and it would have the same connotation:
- My so-called friend forced me to listen to Toad the Wet Sprocket every day on our commute to Eastern back in 1993.
- Donald Trump’s so-called hair is the subject of much ridicule.
- These so-called brownies contain black beans and apple sauce.
Because of this, another rule is never to use scare quotes in conjunction with “so-called” because it’s redundant. It would be like saying, “My new keyboard enables me to be able to play songs that use all 88 keys.” “Enables” is more than sufficient.
So how about you? Have you tried Burger King’s Halloween Whopper? Is it toothsome or gruesome? And, in honor of Halloween, what’s your favorite horror movie? I’m looking for something new to watch this weekend
*In case you were wondering, the grammatically incorrect title of this post comes from today’s song of the week. There’s much debate online (okay, not “much,” but some) about the spelling of “hun” vs. “hon.” Some like “hon” because it’s short for “honey,” but I prefer “hun” because of pronunciation. “Hun” is pronounced like “bun,” whereas I read “hon” like “on.”