I am finicky about peanut butter. I dislike all the national brands which I think are too overprocessed, sweet and buttery. The local organic isn’t nutty enough. I do like Arrowhead Mills Crunchy which works especially well in peanut butter cookies. I tell you this not to recommend Arrowhead Mills, your tastes may well be different from mine, but to illustrate what’s wrong with the idea that there are too many choices in the market.
We are all finicky in some dimensions but not in others. I don’t give a wit about what toothpaste I use but my wife swears by Burt’s Bees. I know the difference between Mozart and Bach but couldn’t tell von Karajan from Solti although I have no doubt that my co-blogger will have no-doubt which is the superior.
If there was “one toothpaste for all” the price would be lower and I would be better off. But one peanut butter for all would stick in my craw. I am willing to pay more for products I don’t care about to have options among products that I do care about. After all, in some sense it’s the products that I care most about that most define who I am.
Addendum: This note was sparked by Don Boudreaux’s observation over at Café Hayek that the average supermarket has 30,000 items. That’s right – which is why I shop at Wegman’s which must have at least 60,000 items!