As an American, I am used to my culture and food being pumped out across the globe and forced upon every consumer we can find. Some culinary innovations have gone down a treat - Coca Cola, hamburgers, and the skinny half-caff caramel latte to name a few - while others are proving rather harder to swallow. Hershey may be surprised to learn that the impending importation of their famous Kisses is not being greeted with cheers of enthusiasm, but I am not. As anyone who has travelled beyond their homeland can tell you; when it comes to chocolate and bacon everyone simply prefers their own.
Americans may treasure childhood memories of unwrapping the tiny twisted foil and devouring the chocolate drop inside, but ask a Brit about their first Kiss and prepare for a tale of woe. A quick glance at the comments responding to the news that Hershey's most famous product will be crossing the pond finds the sweet treats compared to everything from "nasty dried parmesan cheese" to "ear wax" and even "vomit". It's enough to make you wonder if Hershey bothered to do any consumer research before deciding to bring their product to the UK.
But why the violent reaction? It's just chocolate, right?
Wrong. It is childhood. In those precious early years before we learned chocolate lasts but a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips, and that too many bacon butties would result in us bearing more resemblance than we would like to a pig, we enjoyed the tastes, smells and textures of these glorious foods without even a hint of guilt. If you're British, the "chalky" texture of Hershey's will never be able to help you recapture that feeling of pure joy, nor for that matter will the fabulous crispy snap of an American cut of bacon.
Yes, the resistance to a new super brand entering the UK it is also about fighting globalisation (read Americanisation), but you don't even have to get all political on the subject. It also isn't about objectively good or bad chocolate. Cadbury's sugar-to-cocoa ratios are nothing to be proud of and, if they're honest or the least bit 'foodie', most Brits are willing to admit the Belgians do 'posh' chocolate better. People turn to old favourites like Dairy Milk for comfort as much as for a sugar rush and you just can't get the same sense of release from scoffing down foreign sweets as you do from the kind your mum used to give you when you'd been good. It's really that simple.
Sure it's fun to sample the beloved confections of other countries and no one in their right mind would argue for a return to the days when Britain didn't consume food from beyond its shores, but some things belong in the duty free shop not the corner shop.
As for the bacon... if someone out there knows how an ex-pat can get their hands on some Yankee pork in London, I will happily swear allegiance to the superiority of Cadbury's.
By: Phebe Hunnicutt
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