Your “Favorite” Pie

PiesIntroduction:  Your ‘favorite’

Asking someone to reduce an experience to a “favorite” or a “best”, does that person and others a great disfavor. I wrote about that here where I discuss how after a 1 month vacation, people asked my son “What was the favorite thing you did?”

Some of the problems with this sort of question are:

    • Reducing many experiences to one experience
    • Nursing the mind set that exciting is best
    • Emphasizing that events matter more than relationships
    • Teaching that we can summarize richness
    • Encouraging a “collector-of-best-experiences” mentality — a consumerist mentality.

I’m sure you can think of more. This is a disdainful type of reductionism at best — and dangerously common.  This is a part of curse of secular culture which I dislike.  But I realize my intuitions are odd.

Sure, such questions seem harmless, but it is the myriad of seemingly harmless things that we do that turn us into what we may not wish to become.

So, to help gain a little more insight into our habitual “favorite” types of questions, I made today’s little pie post.

Breakfast with my Daughter

This morning my daughter and I went out for a Daughter-Father Breakfast. At our table was a picture of the six different pies they offered for dessert. My daughter, a food lover, innocently asked, “Dad, which one of those is your favorite?”. To which I relied:

“Honey, let’s make the question more interesting. Let’s imagine two situations.

Situation 1: You find out that tomorrow the world will end and this meal now will be your last meal. You get to chose the last piece of pie you will ever eat.

Situation 2: Unfortunately you get put in prison for the rest of you life. You are told you that during all your years in prison you will have desert each night and it will consist of a piece of pie. But it will be the same type of pie every night.

So, honey, which pie would you choose for the two situations?”

I won’t tell you my daughter’s choices. But why not play with us. For this hypothetical game, choose from the six pies above (sorry that your “favorite” may not be there).

Now tell us if your Last-Meal Pie choice and your Same-Daily Pie choice would be the same.


Can you see how broadening one favorite to even just two different kinds of favorites is helpful? Now imagine all sorts of other favorites. Have mercy on pies — don’t whittle them down to favorites! Have mercy on your experiences too!

Questions for readers:

  • What are your rationalizations for your pie choices above?
  • Has my rants about “favorites” changed your thoughts about the word in the least?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Your “Favorite” Pie

  1. LOL — whoops, my first version of this post had you put up your choice for each scenario. We could not tell from two two polls if different choices were made. So I erased those polls and put up this simple poll. Sorry to the two folks who already voted.

    I’m not sure folks are enjoying these so maybe no one else will comment.

  2. TWF

    Chocolate creme for the last meal. It goes down real easy.

    Cherry for the everyday. It’s probably the most nutritious option, and, if I was going to eat dessert every day (something I don’t do), I’d probably opt for something with at least a little vitamin C. 🙂

    I’m definitely on board with avoiding reductionist thinking in life experiences, but I don’t think that the use of “favorites” necessarily comes with all the drawbacks.

    Often I see questions of favorites as a way of communicating efficiently. It’s like reading the headlines in the newspaper until an article strikes your interest. A person names their “favorite” whatever, and then, if the other person is interested in the response, the questions go deeper. If not, then they’ll ask another about “favorite”.

    Or, even if there is no interest in the particular “favorite” answer, it can be a springboard of discussion for the other person to communicate why his/her favorite is different.

    Plus, “favorites” act like mini-banners, to use your lingo. The can help to tighten, or perhaps loosen, the bond between the people having the conversation.

  3. @ TWF
    So, my ranting about “favorites” has not affected your opinion, feel or insight at all? (It is OK if it hasn’t, just curious)

  4. I chose apply pie in both cases.

  5. TWF

    Not really Sabio. I’ve known your view on “favorites” long before this post (from the post you linked), so I’m not seeing it for the first time, and, despite being guilty of asking people about favorites, I never really held such a narrow view of favorites. 🙂 However, I do think that you’ve raised some good points on the potential unintended hazards of asking about favorites, and I love the way you made your daughter’s question “more interesting.”

  6. Yeah, I’m my daughter’s favorite only Dad! So it is my duty to be mildly interesting! 😉

  7. rautakyy

    I have not tasted most of the pies you offer here Sabio. Hence, my answer would be different in these situations. For situation #1 I would choose something I have never tasted, like the pumpkin pie, just as in the case the world would not be ending tomorrow, because wether the world will be ending, or not, it is interresting to have new experiences. For the situation #2 I would choose blueberry pie, because I allready know, I could live whith that for the rest of my life.

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