as far as i can remember, we always ate skippy chunky peanut butter in my household. i always assumed that everyone did. when i got to college, however, my roommate saw my jar and laughed because she had always considered skippy the "white trash peanut butter." she ate peter pan creamy.

on this finer point, i maintain that peter pan--let's face facts--is the lesser peanut butter. the larger point, however, is that peanut butter--or any other seemingly benign product--can be "white trash" or anything else. it isn't a matter of taste or quality--it wasn't to her then and it isn't to me now--but rather of some mysterious, free-floating geist that determines our prejudices and loyalties towards certain brands. i don't begin to understand it, and i certainly don't fight it, but when someone attacks some stupid thing you like, something you had before thought was inviolable, well, you begin to question the entire mechanism at work.

besides the obvious cases in which i stick to one brand because i've found over time that it works, tastes good, or otherwise proves itself superior--besides those cases, which are actually few in number, what determines my choice of one brand over another? from peanut butter and toilet paper down to things more decisive in how i see myself, like clothes or shoes or underwear--why those? and why would it be so easy (if reductive) to size someone up based on a simple list of their preferences and purchases?

if you start thinking about it too hard, it becomes impossible to buy anything.
or almost impossible, i should say. i still buy skippy.