Day #006: Food subscripts

Subscripts to avoid deadly nuts if you’re allergic or just garlic if you’re on a date. 

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and [the intro here.] (

  • Idea: Roughly a dozen standard subscripts for menus representing common ingredients that either are allergens or aren’t allowed in common diets. 
  • Difficulty: 2 – While it wouldn’t require a change of code, getting restaurants to adopt it would require some effort. 

It seems like the dietary needs of Richmonders increase in complexity every year. Gluten-free has now joined the ranks of vegan and vegetarian, and of course, allergies to ingredients like nuts are huge concerns. 

Each restaurant has their own way of informing and dealing with these restrictions, and while they’re not very confusing, they’re not standardized. 

At Kneipe in Wuppertal, Germany, the menus have a system of subscripts that stand for ingredients ranging from whey to gluten and even to garlic.1 The system isn’t very effective, though, because it’s unique to the one restaurant and the key isn’t in the menu. 

What if restaurants in Richmond had a standardized system of around a dozen subscripts that stood for meat, dairy, egg, gluten, garlic, etc.? Each item on the menu would be accompanied by these subscripts which would be standardized across restaurants but also match a key in the menu. 

This shouldn’t become an official part of the already lengthy food codes, but it could find a nice home in The Fan if enough restaurants adopted it. It wouldn’t change the world, but it will help diners around Richmond while minimizing some liability for restaurants.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

  1. Significant others across the entire Wupper Valley are grateful. 
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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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