Thursday, March 11, 2010

Men, Meat, and Crisps - I mean, Chips

Step into any American supermarket and you will be welcomed into chip heaven:  an entire aisle (or sometimes even two) completely dedicated to the deep fried/baked/fat free/full fat potato lunch accompaniment/football-game-watching/party-distraction snack.  I have the perfect photo here in case you're wondering what these aisles look like. 

The UK have no such aisles.  But they do have meat-flavored chips (or crisps, as they're called here) to make up for this shortfall.  That's right, and McCoy's seems to be the biggest manufacturer of such carnivorous endeavours.  You've got "Flame Grilled Steak", which is most common, above, or "Thai Sweet Chicken".  Ever have a craving for "Oriental Ribs" (there's so much wrong with that flavor I'm not even going to go there)?  McCoy's seems to think you do. 

Then you've got Walkers, which is more of an iconic British brand (maybe I should stop using the word "iconic" since it seems like every British brand is "iconic") and boast flavors such as "Smoky Bacon", "Roast Chicken" and "Steak and Onion".  Who needs to eat a meal when you can get a roast chicken (flavor) in the form of a potato chip?  Sorted. 

Ok, so meat flavored chips - a little weird, but tasty and acceptable.  Guaranteed to make you thirstier than a desert-dweller due to the amount of MSG and other nasty preservatives, but good with a pint of bitter (um, not for me, I'm just imagining what it would go with) or a sandwich.  But what's with the "man" theme?  McCoy's website boasts, "MCCOY'S:  MAN CRISPS."  Huh?  So what are women supposed to eat, in following such sexist stereotypes, Chocolate flavored crisps?  Sometimes I grab the Flame Grilled Steak option out of spite, a bit like the Yorkie chocolate bar, whose wrapper contains a female sillhouette (the kind you find on bathroom doors) X-ed out and says, in large letters, IT'S NOT FOR GIRLS.  Way to man-nify your chocolate, Nestle.  It's chocolate.  We're still gonna eat it.  And any chocolate in sight. 

The Walker's site attempts to explain their inspiration behind their "Steak and Onion" flavor:  "In the 15th century the guards at the Tower of London became known as the Beefeaters, mainly because their rations included massive amounts of meat.  Eating up to a pound of meat at every meal, the Beefeaters' heroic consumption of steak became a definining characteristic of the British appetite, leading us to create our popular "Steak 'n' Onion" flavour crisps."  Whoa, whoa, whoa - "heroic consumption of steak"???  Where did the marketing people get this from?  Did they imagine a busty blonde in a revealing red dress, leaning over a white tableclothed table decked with candles at a fancy resturant, accentuating her cleavage with her leaning to say breathily to her extremely-masculine-in-fact-so-masculine-he's-in-no-way-metrosexual date: "Oh my god, the way you demolished that prime rib ... it was so ... heroic.  Can I have your autograph?"

I mean, I get the whole meat + national identity thing, after all, I come from the country that has a television commercial playing Copland's Hoedown with the theme, "Beef, It's What's For Dinner", at the end.  But the meat + manliness association, come on.  What century are we living in now?  Just drop the act.  You know women eat the damn things too.  Even with the occasional pint of bitter.

1 comment

  1. Try my local supermarket in Vauxhall Cross: ailse upon aisle of shelves groaning with chips, crisps or whatever. I must admit they are tucked away at the back of a huge store, so could be missed by the fleeting customer.


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