La Piazza Pizzeria

Outliers

Safety with a smile. The emoji’s value as a replacement for the English language is apparently limitless: A professional critic recently reviewed Noma Japan using nothing but symbols, and a community of dedicated “translators” have re-interpreted the entire Herman Melville classic Moby Dick as—you guessed it—Emoji Dick. Now, in King County, Washington, emojis are replacing restaurant safety ratings, MyNorthwest.com reports. Starting in a month or so, the facial expression cartoons will begin to supplant traditional letter grades in Seattle restaurants. Health officials solicited public votes on the final design decision. There will be no sad or angry faces in the rating system: “needs improvement” is expressed using a straight-line mouth.

The new system was two years in the making, the Seattle Times reports. It aggregates data from four recent inspections instead of reflecting the single most recent grade. Of course, the happy faces already have their detractors. The primary complaint? They oversimplify food safety. :-/

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H. Claire Brown

Claire Brown joins The New Food Economy after working on the editorial team at Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. Follow her at @hclaire_brown.