*Catalog of the Year: Harry and David, Spring-Summer 2000

So Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and Father’s Day too, not to mention Aunt Tillie’s 85th birthday, and she is just impossible to shop for…. Ah! You still have the Spring-Summer edition of the Harry and David catalog in your den — because the cover is a breezy reminder of the warmer weather that awaits, you decided to keep the book as you would a magazine, rather than toss it in the trash straightaway.

The cover line “Save on all your favorites” certainly draws you in. If you can buy from this catalog even one of the three gifts you need, you’ll be happy. But look! Sure, there are the Royal Riviera Pears that the catalog is known for, and the famed Fruit-of-the-Month Club. But the catalog also sells luscious flowers, chocolates, tortes — even a Gourmet Soup Sampler and a Bread Mix Sampler.

How to decide what to give whom? The copy’s no help: It makes everything sound fabulous. Here’s the beginning of the description of the Simply Lemon Basket: “Lemon’s the theme: Tart, sweet, flaky, creamy, buttery. Inside this darling little wicker hamper they’ll find our exclusive Lemon Loaf Cake and Lemon Shortbread Cookies, plus….” And of the Freesia Basket: “The colors will never bore you: A varied palette of pastels that flits from pink to lavender to yellow to orange. And the fragrance is sweet and effusive — a light spiciness that recalls cinnamony applejack. Soon after they arrive, they’ll put on a season-long display that lasts for weeks….”

The photography is just as wonderful as the copy. You can see every single sprinkle atop the Chocolate Torte, the glistening succulence of the sliced Vine-Ripe Tomatoes, the chunks of red, yellow, and green peppers all but bursting out of the jar of the Wild ‘n Spicy salsa…. You have to take a snack break before you can continue — though everything in your cupboard pales in comparison to the delights depicted in the catalog.

While scarfing down a stale candy bar, you check out the order form to see if there’s any fine print about deliveries or extra charges. What a great guarantee: “You and those who receive your gifts must be delighted, or we’ll make it right with either an appropriate replacement or a refund.” And it’s printed loud and clear — you can’t miss it. More good news: You can order all three gifts at once, tell the order-taker when you want each to be delivered, and Harry and David will hold the orders until it’s time to ship each one.

Finally, you decide on the Everlasting Rose Wreath for Mom (as the headline in the catalog says: “Send roses: They’re always appropriate”), the Giant Party Drum for Dad (it doesn’t hurt that the Drum is on sale), and for fussy Aunt Tillie, the 8-Box Light Size Club (“the same great gourmet fruit you’ll find in our original Fruit-of-the-Month Club gifts — only in smaller, more manageable amounts”). It’s about 3 a.m. by the time you’re ready to order, but that doesn’t matter; Harry and David has order-takers available round the clock.

Oh, and while you’re ordering your gifts, you buy a Tower of Chocolates for yourself — and have it sent out for express delivery. Because the crumbly candy bars in your cupboard just won’t cut it anymore. That’s the only drawback of Harry and David’s Spring-Summer 2000 catalog: It spoils you for run-of-the-mill edibles.

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