Monday, February 9, 2015
Jon's America III
It was said by George Bernard Shaw that the United States of America and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. He had a point, but arguably the more important wedge between our two nations is something far more substantial: chocolate.
I have to confess that I'm not instinctively a chocolate-lover - I'll take cheese any day (I've already documented my thoughts on the American cheese situation, so I won't go there again). But I like it, and I think I have a pretty solid idea of what the stuff should taste like. So I'm only going to say this once, because it needs to be said: objectively, Hershey's is garbage.
I know some of you are spluttering into your coffee in protest because that's your childhood I'm trampling all over, but you've been deceived by propaganda. A strangely universal reaction among foreigners trying the stuff for the first time is that it tastes like vomit, and there's a scientific basis for that - it contains butyric acid, which is the same component responsible for the aftertaste of throwing up. (The more you know!)
The competition is, of course, the UK's Cadbury's (now owned by Kraft/Mondelez) with its iconic Dairy Milk bars - this is what I grew up with, and it's solid chocolate. Not exactly the best, put pretty good. You can get it here too, but with a twist... Hershey's have the license to make it right here in the USA! And while the top ingredient in the UK recipe is milk, here in the US it is... wait for it... sugar!
We expats don't ask for much in life, save a small sliver of home to nibble on once in a while as we gaze misty-eyed at pictures of Prince Charles. And so a few small, humble operations popped up offering British chocolate imports to expats for a small mark up. No big deal. Or at least it wasn't until last month, when the full weight of Hershey's corporate legal dept landed on them, saying they were in violation of Hershey's right to sell crap under the Cadbury name, and they had to stop at once or face the wroth of the Free World. And so, of course, they did. It's been all over the news in the past few months, but Hershey's just laughed off the bad publicity and (probably) kicked a puppy or two.
What really gets my goat about the whole debacle is that Hershey's didn't even bother to try and compete in terms of offering a better product. They just shut down competition they didn't like because they were bigger, and they could - and that's part of a larger trend in corporate culture that worries me. In the meantime, though, please don't think I hate all American food in general - quite the opposite. We went to Costco today, and that place is god's gift to your people. I'm currently staring at two vats of peanut butter and what appears to be a small sack of babybels, and all is right with the world.
Labels: jon's america