Friday, February 21, 2014

A little bit my own personal nightmare

So if you're wondering what you could get me for my birthday in 2016, I'd be perfectly satisfied with you flying me (and also procuring tickets to a few events, naturally) to the Summer Olympics in Brazil. I do like me some Olympics! Either season is fine. But then there's the whole thing about the sponsors and their branding.

At the summer games in London a couple of years ago, there was quite the hullabaloo over who would be allowed to serve french fries (chips, chap, given that we are talking about the Brits). Which is to say that BY GOLLY AND BY BEGORRAH, ONLY McDONALD'S WILL BE SELLING FRIES (chips) IN THIS HERE OLYMPIC VILLAGE. The sacred cow of brand identity must be fed, I guess. I don't really get it, but I really like that there was a particularly British exception made: restaurants could serve fries (chips) ONLY IF they were served alongside fish. Serving fries (not chips) to go with a lovely piece of fried fish would understandably be an affront to British sensibilities. 

But then I read this week that there's the same sort of malarkey going on around coffee at the Sochi games, and (maybe predictably) McDonald's is at the center of the wee little poo-storm. It seems that since McDonald's has been an Olympic sponsor for going on 259 years, they also have the exclusive rights to sell coffee drinks in the Olympic village. (Do the most highly tuned athletes walking the earth actually eat McDonald's? One has doubts.) BUT, special snowflakes that they are, the NBC media folk apparently installed their own Starbucks in their media center. 

Which is all well and good; multi-billion dollar transnational companies fighting over logos on cups doesn't actually interest me that much. But what gives me pause: can you imagine being trapped in a world where your only food choices are...multi-billion dollar transnational companies? A world where whatever you might drink or eat has been put through the commodities wringer and had ever bit of both soul and profit margin extracted from it? And you're maybe stuck drinking bottled water because the local tap is a bit suspect? Honestly, it all kind of terrifies me a bit, particularly when I look into a potential future where independent businesses have all become extinct. 

So, y'know. When you're out and about this weekend and you need a weebit of caffeine...maybe DON'T patronize the big green monster. There's a ton of great, locally owned places to get espresso (and maybe even some gelato, obvi) in this town. Do that instead. 

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