today's observation is really an expose`, about two of the greatest hoaxes, that i believe, have ever been perpetrated on the american people. (the key phrase is "i believe". you can believe what you like.)
i love coffee.
oh, not like some. i don't drink twenty cups a day or anything, i drink about two cups. and i don't do caffeine (gave it up about 15 years ago. back then, everyone i knew that was older, that got sick and went to a doctor, was told pretty much the same things. give up caffeine, give up salt, give up smoking, and give up drinking. so i'm 3 for 4 at this point, and down to a glass of wine or two on the 4th. don't push me.) so i gave up caffeine, but still love a good cup of decaf.
growing up, when i did caffeine, we had maxwell house, chock-full-of-nuts, a&p 8:00, yuban, martinson's and others. you found one you liked (for me it was martinson's) and ran with it. for decaf drinkers, there wassanka. not a great choice but hey, it was better than no coffee.
then, in 1971 a company named starbucks opened it's first store in seattle and began to sell very nice coffee. over time, their success grew and grew until by the mid 1990's there was a starbucks on every corner of the eastern and western seaboard of this country. (maybe the midwest too. i wouldn't know, i don't go there.) they did a great deal of advertising and actually convinced the american public that their coffee was vastly superior to any other on the planet. (and maybe it is, but that's not my issue). it's come to the point where a whole segment of the general population refuses to make coffee at home anymore, and subsequently stands in line, sometimes for many minutes, to order a cup of coffee. well, to put it more precisely, a cup of half-caf, decaf, caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, latte, macchiato grande venti. (at least that's what it sounds like to me, mr. decaf), and then, get this....this is the part that kills me....they'll pay 4 or 5 dollars for it! a freakin' cup of coffee!!
i buy zabar's coffee. one zabar's. one store. new york city. i have it flown in from new york. (i know what you're thinking. who the fuck is he to dish my coffee when he's having his flown in? well i gotta tell you, if you order 4 pounds at a time the shipping is free, so there.) i pay $9/lb for great coffee. i get about 10 pots of 10 cups each from a pound. (roughly a hundred cups, for you non-math majors). so it runs about 9 cents a cup. the people on line at starbucks, waiting for the half-caf...well, you know are shelling out $4/cup so a 100 cups per pound the coffee costs $400./lb. wtf?? do the math, people. and i don't stand on line either. (ok, maybe my math is a little off, and there's a touch of hyperbole, but still).
how the american public fell for this ruse is beyond my comprehension. they've convinced america that their coffee is superior, and maybe it is, but $400/lb? and yet, alas, each starbucks i pass has a line out the door, populated with people holding $4 bills, so there's a very distinct possibility that it's just me. (i must add at this point, i especially love to watch new yorkers with their starbucks. they walk. they never drive. they walk. a cup of starbucks in one hand, the cel phone in the other hand, their briefcase in still another hand, and, of course, the cigarette in the final one. new yorkers are so great, with 4 hands and all.)
so take it or leave it. just one man's opinion.
which brings us to hoax #2.
you know how i'm always saying the cheese stands alone whenever i realize i'm the only one out of the loop? well, today i'd like to actually talk about cheese, and other cold cuts as well.
growing up we had wunderbar bologna, krakus or atalanta ham, hormel meats, land o lakes cheese, and other assorted brands. we made sandwiches. we ate them. we liked them. we survived.
boars head brand has been around since the turn of the 20th century, (around 1905), and came into wide distribution nationally by the 1970's. they started a massive advertising blitz some years back, where every third commercial on television was for boars head, and practically every other commercial on radio. it featured a guy with a voice just like burgess meredith, (who i have it on very good authority is dead), but it sounded like him, and we like him, (you remember, the penguin from the old 1960'sbatman series?), and the ads were relentless, and boars head products wormed their way into our grocery stores and our national consciousness, again, like the aforementioned starbucks, simply by repetition. like a giant brainwashing. when it finally hit all of our local publix stores, they even trained the employees to give everyone a slice of everything they cut, whether they wanted it or not. i can't tell you how many times i've gone in there to order some stuff for husband, and i'm on a diet, again, (or is it still?), and i'm handed a slice of cheese. like a guy on a diet stands around munching on cheese? god those people piss me off.
and i reached saturaton, nay, break point, just the other day, which has prompted this writing. the story goes exactly like this. i couldn't possibly make this up.
i wander into the store, take my number and wait. finally, a lovely woman, (not a kid, but a grown woman named michelle, begins.)
michelle: number 33
me: that's me.
michelle: what can i get you.
me: i'd like a pound of white american cheese, please.
michelle: would you like boars head?
me: no, the land--o-lakes is fine.
michelle: the boars head is on sale.
me: yes, but it's still costs more and i'm fine with the other. grew up with it.
michelle: well, did you know the land-o-lakes is made with powdered milk?
me: really? (clutch the pearls). i did not know that.
michelle: yes, it is.
me: (now i'm doubting myself). ok, michelle, let me taste a slice of each.
a minute later, i'm standing in front of a deli case, tasting with two hands, enjoying both cheeses (suddenly mr diet is munching cheese again, two slices at a time, and pissing off the people with higher numbers than mine, (too bad, people, should have been here earlier), and the light bulb (like you see in the cartoons) goes off over my head. and i think:
why, in the name of god and cheese, would anyone take a bucket of milk, dehydrate it to powder, take that powder to the cheese area of the plant, and add water, to make milk, so you can make cheese? the absurdity of it hit me. so i said to her:
me: michell, that doesn't make sense, if you think about it. why would they do that?
michelle: i don't know, but they do.
me: who told you that?
michelle: the boars head salesman.
me: i see.
i felt a primal scream forming in my solar plexus, so i took a deep breath and forged on.
me: i'll take a pound of the land-o-lakes white american cheese, michelle, (and just to get even, i added) and put paper between the slices please. fuck with my head, will you?)
but alas, again, as i stood there, the populace was lined up, numbers in one hand (and i half expected a starbucks in the other), waiting for the boars head lady to lead them down the garden path, some holding a slice of ham or turkey, and others munching expensive cheese.
so let this be a lesson. just because someone says something amazingly idiotic with great authority, does not necessarily make it so. and when you hear things on radio or television over and over til your head is bursting, there's probably something they're trying to sell you. and it ain't always the truth.
i'm probably the only person that this whole business would bother, but then again, one more example of the cheese stands alone.