[Ads-l] Halving the flat (berries)

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Jun 26 21:13:38 UTC 2015

My mother reported a few weeks ago that when buying strawberries for 
strawberry shortcake dinner night, she asked for a flat and got a 
half-flat. When she pointed that out, the vendor told her that people 
usually want a half-flat when they ask for a flat.

The Oxford Dictionary site 
https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/flat#flat) has:

_North American_ A shallow container in which seedlings are grown and sold.

Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/flat#Noun) has:

A wide, shallow container / a flat of strawberries

I don't think that seedlings can cover berries, so I think that part of 
the Oxford definition needs updating, and neither definition provides 
the size. I know a flat to have 12 pints of berries (see 
http://abt.cm/1LLgp1v, where the word "tray" is also used to mean 
"flat"), typically overflowing, and Googling images of "flat of 
strawberries" generally confirms that.

By looking through the pictures, however, you can find pictures that 
appears to be six-pint "flats," but it's hard to be sure (see 
http://bit.ly/1Hl9tdC). I did find a tantalizing meta-comment on the 
matter at http://bit.ly/1e8Qg1A:

A Strawberry Kind of Day
19 June 2010
by Garden Gnome

A flat of strawberries now contains 6 quarts of strawberries.

The Garden Gnome claims that a flat has six quarts, but looking at the 
picture, it appears that they mean six pints, which would make sense 
since six quarts equals 12 pints and only an interpretation of "pints" 
would make this sentence worthy of stating.

In addition to strawberries, of course, blueberries, blackberries, 
Tayberries and raspberries, at least, come in flats and half-flats.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/home

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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