Service of Substitutes

December 28th, 2015

Categories: Graphic Design, Retail, Substitutes

I’ve had good luck with many, though not all, substitutes. Here are a few examples that go both ways.


I have used At-a-Glance monthly calendars for as long as I can remember. The one I prefer ranges in price online from $15 to $25 but with $6+ postage/handling, it’s hardly worth the bother. When I saw a very similar calendar [photo, right] at Barnes & Noble I bought it. The only indication of a brand was “Gallery Leather Maine” stamped discretely on the back cover. Works for me.

Not so Sweet

On the other hand I dislike the aftertaste of all sugar substitutes.

How Graphic

There is little substitute for great graphic design. Years ago a talented man created my agency’s logo. Designer Nigel at Staples’ 3rd Avenue and 43rd Street store was able to simulate it for a business card. The price for Nigel’s time and talent and for Staples to print 500 of cards was a breathtaking $9.99. Amazing. Even more amazing, I was in to buy paper and he remembered my name.

Substitute of a Substitute

I was unable to find my favorite butter substitute—Brummel and Brown–for a while and didn’t have much luck with the others I tasted. It’s low in cholesterol, spreads well and tastes like butter.

Are there substitutes that work for you and some that don’t? Is there a trick to making a successful substitute?


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12 Responses to “Service of Substitutes”

  1. hb Said:

    Great Topic! I love substitutes, especially if they are better than the original.

    Three examples:

    I enjoy Scotch whiskey, however even blended Scotch is expensive. Luckily I discovered a brand, McClelland’s, that bottles four Single Malts by the jug and sells them for a little over $30.00. It’s a better drink than the average blend, and materially cheaper by the glass.

    Since childhood I have been addicted to professional football and the Washington Redskins. A few years ago they drafted two quarterbacks in the same draft, a strange thing to do. One , RDIII, cost a fortune, the other, Kirk Cousins, was dirt cheap. RDIII has been a bust and the team terrible for the past two years. Suddenly, the cheap “Captain” Kirk has been terrific, and the Redskins are division champions.

    I’m partial to Harris tweed sport coats. When I was young they were relatively inexpensive, but not cheap. Now, a properly cut and tailored jacket can run upwards of $800.00. A decade or so ago, I happened to be in Ireland on vacation and came across a beautifully tailored jacket that fit me well, except the arms, on sale at the Shannon Airport duty free shop. All in, including the cost of shortening the sleeves when I got home, I paid less than $100 for it. It served me well until the moths got it last year. Oh, how I’d like to get back to Ireland!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Wow, hb–substitutes even better than the original! Super.

    I can’t comment on the Scotch example as I’m not partial to the taste but I find that the deeply discounted Griffone line of wines–rose, red and white–from Trader Joe are the BEST.

    I’m not a football fan–but I loved the fact that the inexpensive quarterback saved the day! My kind of happy ending.

    Fashion discounts have always made me happy! As for returning to Ireland–I’m with you. I loved my visit to that wonderful country. There’s no substitute for Ireland.

  3. Kathleen Said:

    I’m still thinking about substitutes and am sure I’ll come up with some, but in the meantime, here are two examples of items that cannot be substituted: real butter and Thomas’s English muffins. Imitations of both of these staples don’t compare.
    Happy New Year! And here’s to a breakfast with Thomas’s English muffins smeared with real butter!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Now you’ve got me started. I adore Thomas’s with butter but Thomas’s with Brummel & Brown isn’t bad.

    I am VERY fussy about my pickles. If they have been in a jar I can tell 10 miles away. YECH. And I only like Jewish pickles. Same with bagels. Paper towel: Cheap substitutes don’t hold a candle to Bounty. Toilet paper must be Charmin unscented.

    And that’s for starters! Happy New Year to you, too.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t welcome the idea of being cheated, which is often the case when accepting substitutes. When eating, one takes smaller servings – a wise policy, since many subs contain an assortment of poisons.

    Successful avoidance involves patience, such as waiting for an acceptable price, or learning to do without.

    PS Yes to the English muffin with butter…..and marmalade, and a bright green light to grapefruit w/sugar. Misery should never appear on the menu!

  6. Judy Schuster Said:

    I’m with you on the TP and the paper towels and both are sold at Costco, where I buy large packages and save money. I also agree that Thomas’s English Muffins are the best.
    As for margarine, we quit eating it years ago when we learned it was no better for us than butter. And for baking, especially cookies, there is no comparison. Now I enjoy the real stuff, but not often.
    Good thing you don’t live in the Midwest, Jeanne, it’s jar pickles or nothing. In the old days, I canned 40 quarts of pickles every summer. It took an entire day, but they were the best. Thirty years ago I announced to my family that they either helped or I quit. I quit. Now I buy Claussen.

  7. Debby Brown Said:

    Trader Joe’s “$3.00 buck Chuck” is an easy substitute for California Chardonnay @ $10.00 a bottle.

  8. Kathleen Said:

    You’ve got me interested in Brummell & Brown. And if you can get to a Costco, try their Kirkland toilet paper. It’s on a par with Charmin. And another product that beats all others is Jonathan Green lawn seed. Better results than with any other seed.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I thought of another substitute for fashion and that’s Uniglo, the Japanese dept. store. I think their basic clothing is very well priced and made. Often they have specials where you find amazing things starting at $9.99.

    Like you, I keep an eye out for sales for Charmin and Bounty and pounce when the price is right.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Brummel and Brown is not margarine–it’s actually a yogurt base that doesn’t resemble yogurt, which I also like [though not as a substitute for butter!] I wouldn’t bake with it–like you, I only use butter in cookies, pies, cakes etc.

    I feel SO DEPRIVED as I don’t have a Costco near anywhere I live and have only heard amazing things about it.

    I can’t be budged on the subject of pickles. I can’t find good ones in NYC most of the time either. Fairway sometimes has OK ones. I never get to the Lower East Side of Manhattan anymore and given rents, who knows if there are any pickle merchants left who even in dead of winter would sell them from giant wooden barrels. Those were THE BEST. Some pickles were left to steep in the juices for a long time, others for a middling amount of time and still others, for a brief amount of time. Those were my favorites. Sigh.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For just a bit more–$4.49 and $4.99–you’ll find nirvana with the Griffone brand. Even the labels are handsome! In any case, GO TRADER JOE’S! I also love their ginger cookies, French-milled verbena soap, chocolate, popcorn, brioche rolls and so much more.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If ever I get to Costco, I’ll look out for the Kirkland brand. And thanks for the tip re. grass seed!

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