The attached picture is a display at the local CVS in Ann Arbor, Mich. My thought was that this shelf display is a great example of complements: Enjoy a chocolate bar together, and who knows what nice things might follow? My son thought that it depicted substitutes — no luck in love, so drown your sorrows by eating chocolate. I don’t know who is correct, but the example illustrates well the fact the complementarity/substitutability can depend on the specific situation being examined.
Sometimes what might not seem like complements become such because of location. I came across a restroom in a Vienna underground station that had the sign “Opera Toilet” above the entrance. Clearly, the City must believe that natural bodily functions and listening to arias are complements, at least for customers in this most operatic of cities, the residence of Beethoven, Mozart and many Strausses. Presumably in Nashville now or soon, one will find the “Country Music Toilet.” What other such complements exist?
Iced tea and lemonade are hardly perfect complements — they can each be happily consumed individually — but more and more I see them being served together. I have always known this combo as an “Arnold Palmer”; increasingly, however, as in this ad at the New York chain drugstore Duane Reade, it is known simply as “half-iced tea, half-lemonade.”
I like an Arnold Palmer just fine, but to my taste the best combo drink of all time is a cranberry juice and Fresca. What? You’ve never tried it?! Thank me later.
This has gotten me thinking about other wonderful complements in life. Surely many of them are in the realm of food and drink. But there’s also driving a convertible in cold weather with the heat on, e.g.
What are some of your favorite — especially underappreciated — complements? Tell us in the comments section and we’ll take five of the best and vote for the favorite. Winner gets a free copy of new SuperFreakonomics paperback.