Lauren Krueger & Matthew David Brozik

Consuming costs

In Definally on June 13, 2011 at 10:00 am

Eva P. of Queens asks, “If, say, a restaurant sells a single glass of wine from a bottle, but then has to discard the remainder eventually, and the revenue of the single glass sold is less than what the restaurant paid for the bottle, would one say that the restaurant has to eat the difference (in cost), or, because it’s wine at issue, could it be said that the restaurant has to drink the difference?”

An interesting, if misleading question! For while it might seem… shall we say charming, in a way, to modify the expression “eat the difference/cost” to “drink the difference/cost” in the scenario you describe, Eva, the thing being consumed is still the difference/cost—not the wine (which might, in fact, be drunk by the restaurant staff, but it also might be just poured down a drain)—and cost is something to be eaten, not drunk. Even though cost is, of course, not a physical thing, and there is no particular reason to “eat” it. That what we say, though: Eat the difference/cost.

On the other hand (and I think you’re going to like this): We also say absorb the cost… and absorption is something more easily done of a liquid than a solid. So perhaps that’s the expression you want, as follows: Zut alors! Because we sold, for a mere $12, only a single glass of the 1983 Château Écailles de Poisson, for which we’d paid $50 (and we gave the rest of the bottle to the cat), we made no profit on that bottle and wound up having to absorb the difference.

Et voila!

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