Error of the Week: Pizza-Box Palette / Palate / Pallet
A product-description error with a happy ending.
Who can find the spelling error on the American Flatbread box copy? twitter.com/wisekaren/stat…
— Karen Wise (@wisekaren) February 18, 2013
The error, of course, is a common misuse of palette, palate, and pallet. I say “of course” but it’s relatively easy to miss. When Wise emailed the American Flatbread company about the error, the marketing person who replied, a former English teacher, was “aghast” and “couldn't believe she'd missed it.” Also, I’ve met professional copyeditors who didn’t know that pallet was a word.
Palette, Palate, or Pallet?
Palette is an artist’s paint board or a range of colors in a particular project. Hint: Picture a cartoonish artist, complete with beret and easel, to help you remember that the French-looking palette applies to paints and colors.
Palate is the roof of the mouth, a person’s sense of taste, or sometimes the range of flavors of a dish or drink. Hint: Palate and palatable have the words ate and table in them, indicating food and taste.
Pallet has a few different meanings, but in today’s common parlance it often indicates a square portable platform on which goods are stacked and packed for storing and transport. Hint: Pallets and pellets are both densely packed and made for easy transport.
Pizza-Box Object Lesson
Marketing copy on a pizza box provides great examples. In this case, the marketers are trying to tantalize the taste buds or “entertain the palate” with the written description of the pizza and with the mouth-watering palette of toasty, cheesy colors and handmade-looking graphics. If the marketer does the job well, pallets of these pizzas will be flying out of the warehouses.
At least a few of those pizzas will go to Karen Wise. The grateful American Flatbread company sent the sharp-eyed and conscientious editor coupons for free pizzas. Error-free and cost-free pizza? Happy ending.
Image courtesy of Karen Wise.