Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 8 November 2016
The wind between the mountains
Denmark banned Marmite, and Marmite - like Brexit - splits the nation down the middle to such an extent that it is used as an illustration of how one thing can be loved or desired by half the population and hated or despised by the other.
Never mind that Marmite is owned by a global commodities company, when Denmark banned it, us Brits took it as a personal insult and an international incident almost took place.
Then the global owners threatened to take it off the shelves of British supermarkets unless the supermarkets meekly accepted a 25% price increase. Rather than tell the owners to stick their Marmite up their arses where it probably came from in the first place, we rended our garments and promised to pay the increase, just so long as we could still buy it.
The supermarkets are currently undergoing a life or death price-war with each other, so many of them are reluctant to put up prices by passing on increases to their fickle customers.
Marmite is the by-product of the beer-brewing industry, so it would be perfectly easy to make something identical and call it something different - like Not Marmite - but branding and the loyalty to brands is everything in the world of food retail. H.P. Sauce - with a picture of the Houses of Parliament, the very Mother of Parliaments - is made in Holland and owned by the Dutch, but we like not to think about that as we pour it all over our Full English Breakfasts.
Christmas is coming and - as every Brit will tell you - no Christmas here is complete with a bar of Toblerone chocolate somewhere in the room, whether or not it gets eaten.
Ever since I was a kid, I imagined that Toblerone was made in Switzerland (and not just the product of more than one E.U. country), because the packaging actually has a picture of the Swiss Alps on the box, and their advertising says that the triangular shape of each piece on the bar alludes to the mountains thereof. My father loved the stuff, and ate a giant bar every Christmas. He liked it so much that we did not call him 'Dad', but by the nickname, 'Tobe'.
Well it turns out that Toblerone is an American company, and they have just announced that due to the fall of the pound as a result of Brexit, they are not putting the price up, but decreasing the size and selling it at the same price.
So the two main sizes of their bars of Toblerone - the best-sellers - will have great gaps in between the skinny mountains!
Everyone in Britain associates eating Toblerone with the danger of breaking teeth - especially in the cold weather of Christmas - and what is more extraordinary is that we have come to view the danger almost affectionately.
Those U.S. marketers have not done any homework at all. When I was a kid, everyone here ate a chocolate biscuit called 'Waggon Wheels', then the company that produced them, made them - by annual degrees - smaller, rather than put the price up. They did it in a sneaky way and thought we wouldn't notice. Americans, being American, just come right out and say what they are doing.
For a few years, you would hear people ask, "Have you noticed how Waggon Wheels are getting smaller?" It became a catch-phrase. Then people just stopped buying them.