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My Car Won't Start When I Buy Pistachio

Quoted in News and Views, Reader's Digest, August, 1979, p. 86

"My car won't start when I buy pistachio." The manager of a Texas automobile dealership thought the woman who confronted him with this bizarre statement must be crazy. It seems that on hot summer days she would drive to a certain shop for ice cream to take home. It never failed, she said: the car would always start when she bought chocolate, vanilla or strawberry&md;but when she bought pistachio, she got stranded. The manager had to see this to believe it. He tried a chocolate trip, and the car worked fine. Vanilla or strawberry&md;no problem. Then came the trip for pistachio and, sure enough, the engine refused to start. It was an engineering troubleshooter whose insight solved the problem. He observed that chocolate, vanilla and strawberry were pre-packaged flavors, sold right out of the freezer. But take-home orders of pistachio were hand-packed at the shop. The time needed to have the pistachio packed was just enough for the car to develop vapor lock in the summertime Texas heat. The woman wasn't crazy after all&md;her car wouldn't start when she bought pistachio. Bulletin of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Assn.,