Seattle to replace restaurant letter grades with emojis

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, 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 is a senior staff writer for The Counter. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and The Intercept and has won awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, the New York Press Club, the Newswomen's Club of New York, and others. A North Carolina native, she now lives in Brooklyn.