Don’t eat bulbs, warns supermarket


This is one of those inside-the-asylum moments: Supermarket Albert Heijn sells baskets with flower bulbs, and at the bottom it says: “For decorative purposes only, do not eat.”

Inside-the-asylum moment? A reference to the late Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, in which one Wonko the Sane explains why the rest of us are living at the funny farm:

The sign read:

“Hold stick near center of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.”

“It seemed to me,” said Wonko the Sane, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”

This is why he built himself a house that’s ‘outside’ the asylum.


  1. Before anyone asks, you could imagine them putting that label to avoid being sued – nope. People don’t sue here. No really. And so it’s weird.

    Comment by Orangemaster — February 12, 2009 @ 7:54 am

  2. I had a similar experience with the eggs from the same supermarket, where it says: 6 eggs. Allergy information: contains eggs.

    I can’t even imagine someone sueing the supermarket over that piece of information “missing”: “Yes, I know I’m allergic to eggs, but I didn’t see any specific allergy information so I thought this would be OK”.

    The photo is here:

    Comment by esther — February 12, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  3. Actually, I remember my aunt in Utrecht told me that during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45, a lot of people were starving and cooked and ate the bulbs!

    Comment by Jay Vos — February 12, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

  4. True.

    Comment by Branko Collin — February 12, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

  5. @Jay: I don’t think the Hunger Winter inspired Albert Heijn. ;)
    It is just plain stupid. And in some way very bureaucratic.

    Comment by Jeroen Mirck — February 13, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  6. I remember reading about people eating bulbs then, and before anyone tries it…it makes you ill. Thanks Albert Heijn! Though yeah, if you’re going to smoke and shun bike helmets, it seems like a very excessive safety warning.

    Comment by Mevr. Haus — February 13, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  7. On the surface it seems totally absurd. At the same time, AH sells many eatable bulbs (onions, garlic, shallots, leeks…), and it also sells some vegetables in flowerpots that are supposed to be eaten (at the very least basil).
    I guess that someone was worried that a customer would decide that the narcissus in the pot was some kind of extra-tasty vaguely unknown type of onion.
    Possible, isn’t it?

    Comment by Walter Aprile — February 17, 2009 @ 11:05 am

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