We’re all familiar with those food-product-as-political-poll gimmicks. But leave it to the British to do it up right. More...
We’re all familiar with those food-product-as-political-poll gimmicks that crop up with every major election: Buy this flavor to support candidate A, that one for candidate B.
They’re a cheesy but ultimately harmless way for food marketers to exploit political passions. Problem is, they’re not very specific in terms of the candidates’ actual politics or personalities. You may see things like raspberry for the Republican vs. blueberry for the Democrat (red versus blue states, get it?), but that’s usually as trenchant as it gets.
Leave it to the British, with a national election coming up May 6, to do the concept up right.
Salty-snack company Tyrrells has come out with bags of potato chips named after the three major candidates for Prime Minister. Incumbent Gordon Brown, of the Labour Party, gets Gordon’s Gourmet, with the flavors of Scotch egg and brown sauce, a tribute to his Scottish heritage. David Cameron, the Conservative Party candidate, gets Eton Mess, a reference to a dessert (!) named after his famous college. Nick Clegg, of the Liberal Democrats, gets Clegg’s Cocktail, flavored with hummus and roasted vegetables. (That means liberals are...more sophisticated in their food tastes? More tolerant of immigration? More evenhanded in their Middle Eastern policies? Not sure.) The packaging is very simple: a foil bag with what looks like a pressure-sensitive sticker, adorned with a black-and-white news photo of the candidate.
What’s beautiful about this concept is that Tyrrells didn’t just apply these concepts. They polled the British public to ask what flavors should apply to which candidates. The ones that didn’t get chosen are as interesting, if not more so, than the ones that did:
• For Brown, “hotpot” barely lost, with “bitter” third. Tyrrells’ press release generously describes these as “flavour combinations rooted in the [Labour] party's working class history,” but I’m wondering if they’re not a reference to Brown’s legendary temper.
• For Cameron, the losing flavors were “pheasant,” “stilton and chutney” and “cucumber sandwich.” I don’t know about the cheese, but the first and last seem to be references to the Tories as the rich people’s party.
• For Clegg, the losing flavors were “coriander,” “lentils” and “elderflower.” Your guess is as good as mine. Or better, if you’re from the UK.
I wonder how, or whether, this could work in the U.S. Would “Chicago-style pizza” apply to Obama? Or “mooseburger” to Sarah Palin?
Actually, I think this could get ugly pretty fast. Better stick with raspberries and blueberries.