We live in a world where things are supposed to be orderly, especially in a grocery store. Cans and boxes neatly lined up on shelves. Grocery items grouped by category; dairy, meat, baked goods. We’ve all come to expect this. But what’s this? Somebody has thrown a monkey wrench into the works by putting eleven slices of cheese in a package.

Left to their own devices, things do decay into chaos. It’s the definition of entropy. But we’re not leaving things to their own devices. Humans are actually in control of this situation, so a human had to deliberately decide to put eleven slices of cheese in a package.


An uneven number.

A prime number.


If you are metrically inclined, you might say ten is a better number. If you’re old school, how about an even dozen? Either works just fine and could be defended as an appropriate number of slices. But not 11. Putting 11 slices of cheese in a package is thumbing your nose at convention, putting the funk in dysfunctional. It’s unbalanced. Not to put too fine a point on this, but when I first picked up the package that showed eleven slices of cheese in it, I experienced an odd swaying sensation, as if the planet had momentarily slipped from its normal axis and wobbled. I’m serious.

The question is why. Why are there 11 slices of cheese in this package? There has to be a reason.

Maybe, just maybe, it was not because someone wanted to throw nature’s order into disorder, to put into disarray what was once organized and to deliberately destroy the planet. Maybe it was NOT an intentional action taken by somebody with an axe to grind with humanity. Maybe it was an innocent oversight, a simple function of math. Maybe somebody was assigned the job of designing a package of sliced cheese and simply succumbed to numbers.

“Johnson, your job is to fit eight ounces of sliced cheese in this package, with each slice 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches with a thickness of 1/8 of an inch. Got it?” The result; eleven slices per package.

We can’t blame Johnson for this. It wasn’t Johnson’s fault. Johnson was just doing his job.

Or maybe it was the marketing department. Somebody had done extensive research on cheese retailing and determined that, in order to be competitive with other brands, 11 slices of cheese was the optimal number for one package that would retail slightly under those scoundrels putting 12 slices in each package. Ah, that could be it! Problem solved.


But wait, that can’t be it. That would put them at a competitive disadvantage over those metrically minded marketing masters who put ten slices in each package. Eleven slices means they’ve priced themselves out of the market and put hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent cheesemakers on the streets. No, there has to be another reason. It’s most perplexing and in need of more thought.

In the meantime, I suggest we take action. We simply can’t let this go unanswered. Protests should be organized. Placards made. Hats made in China with “MIAD” – Make It A Dozen – emblazoned on the front. Let it be known that we see what you’re up to you evil cheese packagers. We won’t stand idly by and be part of the decay of civilization as we know it. Where does it go from here? I shudder to think. I worry for the future of humanity.

Eleven slices is simply the thin edge of the cheese wedge.