A Philosophy Major’s Yelp Review of the Implausible Texas Grocery Chain H-E-B

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H-E-B, Rating: 1 star
The H-E-B Texas grocery chain bears a name that stands for the odd slogan Here, Everything is Better. I feel a child’s delight at the prospect of a store that sells everything. Yet, such a store seems incredible. Is the store the size of the universe? Does the store sell itself? And we must ask: better than what? Once everything is sold as merchandise, what is left? Nothing. I need not visit this H-E-B to tender my Yelp review. The store’s very existence can be ruled out on a priori grounds.

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Assistant Manager Troy Peterson
Thank you for your review. We value all H-E-B customers. I do want to clear something up. We don’t sell everything. For example, we don’t sell consumer electronics, luxury yachts, or farm animals. We do sell a lot, though, including groceries, cleaning supplies, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and more. We maintain that at H-E-B, you will have a better experience than you will at other grocery stores. We invite you to try us out!

Review Update
Mr. Peterson, I am baffled. You claim that your corporate slogan is not about physical objects but, oddly, about the experiences caused by these objects. Are you claiming that the groceries themselves—the juicy nectarines, the cuts of beef, etc.—are possibly inferior? This suggests a massive and sinister deception perpetrated within your walls. My review stands.

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Assistant Manager Troy Peterson|
Thank you for your reply. We value all customer feedback. I realized that I wasn’t being clear before. Yes, the things we sell at H-E-B are definitely the best, and you will also have the best experience here as well. Try us out, and let me know how it goes!

Review Update
Mr. Peterson, my confusion remains, but the principle of charity demands that I shoulder the blame. I shall attempt to be more precise. You now claim, presumably, that every item sold at H-E-B is better than everything else not there sold. Let ‘Hx’ be the unbound first-order sentence that H-E-B sells x. Let ‘Bxy’ mean that x is better than y. Thus,

∀x∀y((Hx & ¬ Hy) → Bxy)

Do you agree with this logical interpretation? It entails that every seventy-cent Washington apple and Gillette Mach 3 Mens shaving razor sold at H-E-B is better than every painting of Michelangelo, every Mozart concerto ever performed, and every long-past Grecian sunset that caressed the eyes of Plato. If this is what you truly mean to say, then you are a daft and unforgivable lunatic, Mr. Peterson.

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Travis County Regional Manager Melissa Donovan
I am aware that you had a poor experience with one of our managers, Troy Peterson. At H-E-B, we’re committed to serving all customers with the highest level of diligence and care. I’d like to shed more light on our slogan, Here, Everything’s Better. It means, quite simply, that H-E-B offers the highest quality of service of any grocery store. I hope you will give us a try and see for yourself.

Review Update
Ms. Donovan, you propose a metaphysic where all of matter is reducible to this mysterious entity that you call “qualities of service.” This claim smacks of some foul Bishop Berkeley-esque nonsense. And I would be remiss if I did not ask: What have you done with Mr. Peterson? Is he not able to defend himself?

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Vice President of Customer Care Mark Cavanaugh
Dear Mr. Russell, I apologize for the misunderstanding. I would like to point out that our slogan, Here, Everything’s Better, isn’t really about individual bananas and cans of tuna being better than all the other bananas and cans of tuna out there. It’s really about looking at our store as a whole. Once you do that, I’m confident that you’ll see that we’re the clear choice for your grocery needs throughout Texas.

Review Update
Mr. Cavanaugh, are you claiming that H-E-B is an emergent entity, like a conscious mind, that is not reducible to its component parts? Please clarify.

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Vice President of Customer Care Mark Cavanaugh
You know, the more I think about it, the more that I realize that Here, Everything is Better is just a slogan. It can’t really be taken literally.

Review Update
Mr. Cavanaugh, to be clear, are you are conceding that your slogan is a fiction? I consider myself fairly open-minded when it comes to logical space, but a mind has limits. I won’t truck in fictionalism of all things! 

Yelp Business Owner Response by H-E-B Vice President of Customer Care Mark Cavanaugh
I think you should at least shop at an H-E-B before you write us off. Otherwise, it’s impossible for you to have a good experience with us. Tell you what. You pick any of our stores, and I’ll personally give you a tour and a $100 H-E-B gift card.

Review Update
Impossible, you say? There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that all of life is but a hallucination contrived for us by an all-powerful daemon whose sole purpose is to toy with us. And yet there is not a whit of evidence to support this hypothesis. Or so I thought until I began this exchange of sheer chicanery and flagrant goal post moving, with you and your subordinates! Please excuse me, but I must now dedicate my energies to the Yelp review of a curious bakery I have recently discovered, Nothing Bundt Cakes.


H-E-B photo by Mquirarte – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Written by

Alex Baia is a humor writer and contributor to McSweeney’s and Slackjaw. He lives in Austin, TX.