Buttered Rice


Richard Bishop

© Copyright 2012 by Richard Bishop 


Photo of a bowl of buttered rice.

I'm not the Editor of a great Magazine or Newspaper but sometimes, I just can't resist editorializing. We're all quite used to not being asked hardware questions like where the knobs will go on our new TV sets or what and where the accessories will be on the new cars that we buy. But, doesn't it go a bit too far when this penchant for telling us what “we're gonna get – like it or not!” extends even to the food we buy. So, I feel it's time to take our "American Way Of Life" to task and show just how it is shaped by "Marketing" in such an insidious way that we Consumers have little to say about these things (and usually don't even realize it). The following are two examples where the American Public has been “taken-in” by Marketers hired to “pull the wool over their eyes.”

One famous brand of fast Rice dishes has pounded it into our heads for years that each grain of cooked Rice has to stay separated all the way from the package, through the cooking pot, to the Rice-bowl; either that or the Cook is a failure! This “fad” is such "Poppycock!" Everybody who has been West of San Francisco knows that the best Rice is "Sticky-Rice;" just right for staying on the chopsticks in gluey clumps, resulting in a real mouthful of delectable Rice in its best form (whether or not you actually use chopsticks). Combine that with American Rice from California called Blue Rose which is large, big-grained (not long-grain) and plump, and you have the ingredients of a memorable Asian meal. We have let the “hired-hands,” i.e., American Marketers get away with this "hokum" for years.
And now, they are trying to overtake Europe. The European Cooks are weakening, in the face of onslaughts by the "separate grains of Rice" advocates, as the fast Rice dish Hucksters "rev-up" their expansion into World-wide Markets. And, they'll probably try to tell the Asians how to eat their Rice, someday soon!

Now for the second example. Over the years, the Vegetable Oil Lobby has pushed every known argument into the banning of good creamery butter from the kitchen and the dining table. They got up to speed (long before it became fashionable to front Healthful Living to the American People) by leaning hard on the price difference between Butter and Margarine.

I do have to admit that for years, the Butter people had it their way and made it hard on the Margarine people by forcing the issue of making the consumer add yellowing dye to Margarine after purchase so that it could not possibly be confused with Butter in the showcase (that was a losing battle from the start and they knew it!).

But, now, in the turn-about, Butter has become the "endangered species" and has almost disappeared as a generic word from American TV Cooking shows. Catching up with the trends, the Margarine advertising has been quick to jump onto "Wellness" diets and the pointing out of the difference between "good" Cholesterol and "bad" Cholesterol, hoping for the
coup de grâce once-and-for-all for animal products like Butter.

I'm happy to say that the best European cooks (who, being on the other side of the “pond” these past years) were not "brain-washed" by all this. They have not fallen for this last campaign and still use Butter liberally in their dishes in their restaurants and TV cooking shows, and probably always will.

The Irish have gone one better and have melded all this together. Their “Irish Butter” always is soft and quashes the competition a different way (if you can't beat them, join them!). In the TV Ads, the Father of the House jumps up from the dinner table and checks to see if the refrigerator is still working when he finds the Butter quite soft! Their secret? They add vegetable oil (do I hear Margarine) to their Butter; not a lot, but just the right small amount to keep it soft whatever the temperature. And it sells, and sells, in Europe. And that’s because the price is right; usually always at least one penny below the local brands of Butter.

Now that's real marketing; find a need and satisfy it (all the while pricing it right). There are no “snake-oil-type pitchmen” desired here. No trying to start “fads,” either. And no wool to dim our vision! It practically sells itself.

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