This is driving me crazy.  For some reason

product.title = "this is"
item.title = product.title.to_s << ' my string'

yields "this is my string"

but

product.title = "this is"
item.title = 'my string ' << product.title.to_s

will only yield "this is" without adding 'my string ' at the beginning.
 I feel like there must be something incredibly simple I'm missing.
Advice would be much appreciated.