Culture Wars Impact Wine Labels

Gladiator Wine

The wine label above is too racy for Alabama. AP reports that Alabama’s liquor control agency has ordered restaurants and stores not to sell the wine:

A wine label showing a nude nymph is too racy for Alabama’s liquor control agency, which has told restaurants and stores not to sell the product.

The label on Cycles Gladiator wine, produced by Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, Calif., shows a vintage 1895 bicycle advertising poster with a nude nymph flying beside a winged bicycle.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently sent a letter to stores and restaurants telling them not to sell the wine because the label had been rejected by the agency. Alabama liquor regulations prohibit labels that are offensive or immodest.

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Waiting Topless

Waiting topless from The Sunday Best on Vimeo.

Grand View Topless Coffee shop in Vassalboro, Maine was founded in February 2009 and recently burned down in a case of suspected arson. This slide show looks at Lisa Beaudreau and Star Cunningham who have worked there as topless waitresses. The coffee shop has reopened in a tent.

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Now Terrorism Against Topless Coffee Shop

coop

What a sad week. We’ve seen right wing terrorism with the murder of an abortion doctor. We’ve had a case of Islamic terrorism with the murder at an Arkansas army recruiting station. Now an arsonist has burned down the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro, Maine. The coffee shop had received national media coverage for having coffee served by topless waiters and waitresses.

I hope that they manage to rebuild and get this business back up and running. It might not be an appropriate time for joking about the coffee shop, but I can’t resist a comment from a post I had planned but never completed when the coffee shop previously made the news. I had been hoping for an R-rated  east coast remake of Twin Peaks. Imagine Special Agent Dale Cooper remarking on the “Damn good cup of coffee and damn good…”

Barack Obama Has Great Taste In Mustard

grey-poupon

I’m certainly not going to vote based upon a politician’s taste in food, but if mustard is a consideration then I did the right thing in voting for Barack Obama. Some right wing blogs such as Legal Insurrection and Gateway Pundit are upset about the mustard which Obama ordered on his well-publicized outing to Ray’s Hell-Burger.  They complain that he ordered his hamburger with Dijon Mustard. One commenter claims that if you play the tape backwards he was asking for Grey Poupon Dijon as if that would be something bad. While I often order more exotic types from Zingerman’s for variety, Grey Poupon is my favorite mustard which is commonly available at supermarkets.

Only the authoritarian right would get so upset about the type of mustard which Obama requested. This goes along with their ideas on politically incorrect lettuce, wine, and cheese. With all their distortions of the meaning of freedom and the free market, I often think that many conservatives don’t understand what either really means. Many of them would feel more at home with the blandness of Stalinist Russia. Enforced conformity would alleviate many of their concerns. What is it about our freedom to choose and the variety of choices offered by the free market which many conservatives hate so much?

There are also accusations that MSNBC covered up the request for Dijon Mustard. I don’t know whether they did, but I’m far more concerned over the manner in which Fox news covered up far more important things, such as how George Bush lied the country into a war.

A Pig By Any Other Name

The pork lobby has been upset about the way in which the latest influenza outbreak is being called swine flu. Some sources are giving in and are using the more scientific terminology of H1N1 flu instead. I noted that today the CDC is using H1N1 but still has Swine Flu in parentheses. They have defended the legitimacy of also calling it swine flu:

In a briefing Tuesday, Richard Besser, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, acknowledged that the agency’s use of the swine flu label was fueling the misconception that people could catch the new respiratory disease from food. “That’s not helpful to pork producers. That’s not helpful to people who eat pork,” Dr. Besser said. “And so we’re discussing: is there a better way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate action on peoples’ part?”The flu that erupted in Mexico earlier this month is a big worry because it is transmitted between humans, who don’t have any immunity to the new strain. Medical authorities haven’t found any cases of people catching this new strain from contact with pigs or pork, nor has the new strain been detected in pigs.

Still, many scientists say the CDC is well within its rights to describe the disease as swine flu even though it seems to have mutated into a unique human virus. Flu viruses tend to be named after the first species in which they are discovered, and H1N1 was discovered in pigs decades ago.

Genetic sequencing of the new form of the H1N1 virus shows that it clearly had a long history in hogs before it made the leap into the human population and acquired its deadly new traits.

“The vast amount of material in it is in pigs,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

So far I don’t know that the pork industry has lost very much money because of any misconceptions about eating pork products. I’m far more worried about the affects of the pig scare in the 100 Acre Wood:

swine-flu-in-the-100-acre-wood

Obama Road

obamsdfsda-1

People in Toronto who like the idea of going to an Obama-themed cafe now have a dilemma–deciding which one to go to. There are two of  them a few doors apart on Danforth Avenue. The Torontoist has information on both of them.

Starbucks vs. McDonald’s

While Matthew Yglesias’ predictions regarding taxation discussed in the previous post are reasonable, he sure does not understand the life style of affluent liberals.  He reviewed a study from the Pew Research Center which looked at whether Americans “would rather live in a neighborhood with more McDonald’s or more Starbucks.” The results:

Americans manage to typecast themselves by just about every demographic and ideological characteristic under the sun; overall, more Americans choose McDonalds (43%) over Starbucks (35%), but the split is more pronounced — and rather predictable — when analyzed demographically. Liberals want coffee; conservatives choose burgers. Younger Americans vote for caffeine; older Americans decidedly pick the value menu. When one controls for all the factors tested, the variables that do the most to explain whether someone chooses Starbucks over McDonalds are: having a college degree, having a high income, being a liberal, being a Westerner and being a woman.

Matthew responds:

But as someone who fits firmly into the Starbucks demographic, I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking. At the end of the day, if you want some coffee and there’s a McDonald’s nearby but no Starbucks, you can go to the McDonald’s and get some coffee. It’s not the same range of selection, and I do like Starbucks coffee more, but McDonald’s is a reasonably close substitute. By contrast, there’s no french fries at Starbucks. There’s no burger at Starbucks. No nuggets. No ice cream. And nothing that even vaguely resembles any of that stuff. It’s an assymetrical relationship where McDonald’s can imperfectly substitute for Starbucks but Starbucks can’t substitute for McDonald’s at all. And these days they both have WiFi. But McDonald’s has delicious Diet Coke and other sodas.

Long story short, the yuppies of America need to get real.

He fails to understand the tremendous differences between the Starbucks and McDonald’s experience. I ran this by a sample which was small but readily available–my wife and daughter. Both quickly voted for Starbucks. Actually my daughter’s reaction was the typical reaction of teenagers who think that adults don’t know what they are talking about. She thought the very question was ridiculous with only one plausible answer.

Of course this is a very biased sample. I suspect that my wife and daughter are responsible for the bulk of the profits at the nearest Starbucks. Ever since my daughter got her own car it has become common for one to go to Starbucks and be told by the baristas (who all know them both) that the other had just passed through.

Sure McDonald’s has more food choices, but I would very rarely actually eat at a McDonald’s. Some afluent liberals might eat there from time to time out of convenience but they could easily live without the McDonald’s. My wife will even drive through McDonald’s occasionally for a diet coke (which she does believe is better than that available elsewhere) but she would never give up a Starbucks for a McDonald’s coke. We would not use either Starbucks or McDonald’s as a primary place to get food, but have relied upon the limited food selection at Starbucks far more often than going to a McDonald’s.

People go to Starbucks for the experience, not just the coffee. We will go with other couples to a Starbucks after having dinner out with friends, but would never go to a McDonald’s for coffee after dinner. My wife will meet friends at Starbucks but would never do this at a McDonald’s. My daughter will even sit with friends and do homework at Starbucks but I can guarantee she would not be caught dead hanging out at a McDonald’s.

Incidentally, Matthew’s post is not the first time I’ve encountered people on line who did not understand the importance of the experience. While Starbucks is far preferable to McDonald’s, often I prefer to go to local coffee places which often have both better coffee and a better ambiance.

Last year while in South Beach (Miami Beach) we quickly found that coffee was available in the lobby at our resort and found a nearby Starbucks. While there were also many nearby restaurants and bars, we were unable to find any places we would like to go for coffee other than our lobby or the Starbucks. I did what I will usually do when wandering around a strange city–ask ChaCha.

ChaCha is a free service which researches questions submitted by cell phone and sends a text message with the answer. Generally they are very helpful, but this time I did not receive a response until the next day. They totally struck out on this one. I asked for coffee places near Lowe’s resort in South Beach other than Starbucks, hoping for a cozy place we could go at breakfast time or in the evening. The answer received was a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fort Lauderdale–hardly what we had in mind. Apparently people in South Beach hang out on the beach during the day and then at the clubs at night with far less interest in coffee places than we have in the colder midwestern cities.

Obama To Take US To World Leadership In First Term

During the Democratic primaries, the Obama supporters were often described as the more affluent wine drinkers (with Obama later building a wine and beer coalition to take the nomination). Perhaps this is one result of the change in the country. Wine consumption is expected to increase, with the Unites States projected to surpass Italy as the world’s top consumer of wine during Obama’s first term.

You Might Be A Liberal If…

Kiera Butler of Mother Jones looks at characteristics of liberals versus conservatives:

You may be a liberal if…you were the Tracy Flick of your nursery school. Confident, dominating preschoolers grow into liberals, while fearful and easily victimized tots turn conservative.

You may be a conservative if…you alphabetize your underwear drawer. Conservatives are more likely to have neat and tidy rooms, and liberals messy ones.

You may be a liberal if…you’re up all night. 28% of liberals have insomnia, compared with 16% of conservatives.

You may be a conservative if…you’re a woman who craves chocolate chip cookies. Liberal ladies prefer theirs fruit filled.

You may be a liberal if…you’re in the mood for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie-Dough Cheesecake. Liberals’ chain eateries of choice are the Cheesecake Factory, Panera Bread, and Starbucks, while conservatives dine at Hardee’s and Fuddruckers.

You may be a conservative if…you’re happy with tap water. Domino’s Pizza claims Republican customers are less likely to order beverages.

You may be a liberal if…you’re too lazy to walk to the pizza place. The Domino’s survey found that Democrats rely on delivery more than Republicans.

You may be a conservative if…you have a son. Parents of boys are more likely to be conservative than parents of girls.

You may be a liberal if…you possess Obama-like calm. When shown a picture of a spider on a human face, most conservatives jump in fright; liberals react roughly the same as when they’re shown a picture of a bunny.

You may be a conservative if…your dreams are chaste. Nearly half of liberals report having erotic dreams; only 38% of conservatives admit to it. (This was before Sarah Palin.)

For the most part the liberal characteristics fit, but I do love chocolate chip cookies. I’ve also never had an erotic dream about Sarah Palin, but seeing a picture of her in someone’s face might make me react roughly the same way as when shown a picture of a spider.

Starbucks Big Winner on Election Day

Latte liberals might be expected to stop by Starbucks on election day, but more people than usual visited. Starbucks offered free coffee on election day, and probably made a profit on the deal. Advertisng Age reports:

John Moore, a former Starbucks marketer, estimated that between 12% and 15% of customers are drip-coffee drinkers, and that each of the company’s 7,100 locations serves about 800 people a day. Those figures would set a conservative giveaway estimate at 568,000. Starbucks’ cost per cup is about 30¢, according to several executives familiar with the matter, which would put the cost of the giveaway at about $170,000.

Muffin with that?
However, about one in every five or six Starbucks customers buys food, executives said. If that held true during the giveaway, and each of those people spent even $2, the company could have made money on the promotion. Starbucks has said 75% of its sales are beverages sold in-store, and most of the remaining 25% are food sold in-store.

An executive familiar with the matter estimated the “Saturday Night Live” spot could have cost as much as $350,000. But the value of coverage relating to the giveaway — from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Newsweek, to name a few — as well as rampant blog chatter likely superseded the chain’s investment. Many of those organizations, including the Journal, posted the Starbucks commercial along with their stories.

The giveaway tactic also boosted the company’s buzz rating, according to Brand Index. Starbucks’ positive buzz rating jumped from 25% on Oct. 31 to 51% on Nov. 5. “This was a strong and well-timed promotion,” said Ted Marzilli, senior VP-brand group at Brand Index parent YouGovPolimetrix, in an e-mail. “There has been huge interest in this election (as measured by the voter turnout) and likely a lot of positive word-of-mouth, particularly given that the promotion ran on Election Day (a workday), when many people could spread the word to their colleagues.”