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Jr. Tales: Coding Barcodes

Rivkah Small

“I’m making Poppy’s a special barcode instead of boring old straight lines. We have a very cool company and it deserves a cool barcode”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Baruch Braun loved visiting his father at work. Mr. Braun owned a gourmet popcorn company, Poppy’s Palatable Popcorn, which smelled delicious the minute you walked into the building. The aroma of popping corn wafted through the open door as Baruch entered, wrapping him in a warm cocoon. Mr. Braun was very enthusiastic about every aspect of his business, from brainstorming new popcorn flavors and testing them out on his friends and family, to running the machines and calling new stores to ask if they wanted to carry his product: “Did you want two cases of hot-dog-flavored popcorn and one of cheesecake flavored, or was that the other way around?”

Baruch also loved everything about the family business, and he loved when he had a Sunday off from yeshivah and his father allowed him to visit. This Sunday, Mr. Braun said he could even bring his best friend, Yitz, if they were very careful in the factory and warehouse and agreed not to call his customers to tip them off to avoid the sriracha-cotton-candy flavor.

As Baruch and Yitz jumped out of the van that Sunday at nine thirty in front of the low brick building, and entered Poppy’s, the familiar scent of popcorn assailed them pleasantly. “Best smell in the world!” Baruch told Yitz, breathing deeply.

“It’s good, but… better than cholent?” Yitz asked incredulously.

Baruch nodded.

“Better than fresh, warm challah!?”

Baruch considered for a minute, then nodded.

“Better than the matzah bakery?!”

Baruch shook his head, no. Yitz had him there. No, there was no smell like a matzah bakery, breathing Pesach and Seder night with every whiff.

Mr. Braun pocketed the keys to the front door and came up behind his son, “Hey, that’s an idea for a new flavor, matzah-flavored popcorn. What do you boys think?”

“No!” they squawked together. “How about corned-beef-sandwich-flavored popcorn or birthday-cake-flavored instead?”


“Potato-kugel popcorn?” Yitz suggested.

“How about kishke?” Baruch asked.

Mr. Braun shook his head slowly, “Tried all of those already. Well, I have to start the machines so Jose can get going once he gets here. We’re doing a low-fat version today: broccoli-flavored popcorn. What do you boys want to do while you’re here?”

Baruch wanted to answer, “Leave! I had no idea you were making broccoli-flavored today!” but he didn’t. He told his father, “You know what I’ve always wanted to do, Ta? I want to design your barcodes on the bags.”

“The barcodes? You mean the thing they scan to get the product information up on the computer?”

“Yes. I noticed recently that a jelly-bean company has a jelly-bean-shaped barcode, and another company has a barcode that spells its name inside the black lines. I really want to make Poppy’s a special one instead of boring old straight lines. We have a very cool company here and it deserves a cool barcode.”

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