Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Fuuma, Aug 9, 2012.
I am joking, though I have seen Arancini on the menu at the Pasadena Intelligentsia.
I learned it by attending one of the most radically left elite colleges in America.
Your talk of "culture" and "environment" only obfuscates because, in doing so, you evade investigating the situation from a more granular level: how individuals make decisions and what we must assume about how they do so. By not recognizing the independent agency of individual actors, you are necessarily aggregating them into larger demographic categories ("consumers", "corporations," etc.) and losing resolution on the problem you are attempting to analyze.
That's why I say your underlying premise is that large organizations "brainwash" individual actors. There is little other way to read you when you don't want to accept the distinct possibility people do what they do because they want to, not because some vague, intangible cloud of culture or corporate malevolence made it so.
Dude, I'm just answering your own queries.
I pointed out that your question assumes that "large, technocratic orgs" are unilaterally influencing the dissemination of sandwiches that are "lab-tested monstrosit[ies]." This is a bad assumption, as you have not ruled out the possibility that the problem is the result of a multilateral situation: various market participants dealing with each other, buying and selling what each wants. Or, as I put it originally: maybe the sellers are motivated to save every last cent because buyers are motivated to save every last cent as well. This is the simplest explanation, on the most granular level. If you think there is a more complicated explanation, it's your burden to prove it.
It's OK, they just bought La Boulange which means the food will get better and fattier and the French leftist in all of us will be happy at Le Starbucks.
More seriously, they realized that their customers didn't like their food, so they bought a market tested company who makes marginally better French named food for bobos.
We are assuming they aren't forcibly cramming those doughnuts down people's throats, right?
I don't see how the above changes the analysis. If people are continuing to buy the sh*tty Tim Hortons doughnuts, you have your answer: a sufficient number of them don't care enough that the doughnuts aren't freshly baked on-site to stop buying them.
My assumption is that, without evidence of coercion, consumers do what they want. So, yes, to me the explanation is as simple as you put it: "people want these strudels so starbucks produces these strudels." The analysis is not complicated. Either you believe people want the crappy Starbucks strudels they buy, or you don't. If they do want them, the analysis is over; Starbucks is giving them what they want. Simple. If they don't want the f*cked up strudels, and are buying them anyway, some other factor must be influencing the situation. That is a more complicated explanation and involves more moving parts, which you can't even identify or prove. So, yes, I am making assumptions--but I am also making the fewest possible.
Have you considered that maybe you are attempting to problematize what isn't a problem to begin with? That would be pretty classic of leftist academic institutionalization.
They sell some godawful doughnuts that used to be labeled as coming from some speciality provider. So, they will probably quash whatever marginal improvement there was to be gained.
Oh no, they aren't forcing but during the 'golden' expansion period they pretty much killed off any viable competitors. Now they can lower the quality because there are no alternatives. The corporation isn't forcing anything but people tend to be creatures of habit and like convenience and predictability, which drives the market trend of homogenization and cost cutting.
This might contribute to the feeling that we must pay a premium to obtain what used to be 'normal' . Or that cost-cutting is encroaching upon solid 'middle class' brands, which means not much differentiates them from rock bottom except the presentation ('Family Owned' sit down restaurants getting food from Sysco vs McDonalds, consumer electronics in a metal case vs plastic'.
But the problem is really consumers, since they support the companies.
There are two types of people who buy these goods: 1) people who actually like the product (me and Timmy's donuts), and 2) people who will opt for consistency faced when no better option exists (me and Starbucks anything - drive across North Dakota sometime, and you'll realize that the consistent mediocrity of Starbucks is a luxury.)
I don't think that there is anything particularly nefarious going on.
I admit to non-ironically patronizing TH for a "double double" every morning when I'm in Canada.
How does Tim Horton compare to Krispy Kreme? The hypothetical Krispy Kreme is plain glazed and microwaved for 10 seconds.
I'm reading between the lines since fuuma deleted his comments, but I wonder if food is a somewhat unique instance of how large-scale capitalism influences taste, because food is at once a resource and an aesthetic object. Mafoo must be right that food has generally gotten better since ingredients have become more plentiful and more diversified. But I think it's also true that large corporations squeezing out profits aren't necessarily responsible for churning out genuinely good food (and I do think that the distinction between genuinely good food vs. food that appeals to the most consumers can be made--or else, uhh, we wouldn't be here in this subforum). So maybe we need to disentangle the question of how capitalism can promote the growth & dissemination of resources vs. how capitalism influences taste.
Different examples (I walked into a Thomas Kinkade gallery at the mall and the art sucked?) would lead to a very different discussion. One question there would be the extent to which the good taste/bad taste/popular taste distinction is a consequence of a capitalist economy (and its relationship to modernism's deliberate attempt to play with this distinction), and to what extent such distinctions have always existed, even long before market capitalism.
Certainly, tastes are influenced by exposure. But, as you point out, capitalism has only lead to greater diversity and better availability. A Starbucks strudel may suck, as far as strudels go, but many people have never had a strudel before Starbucks. Aren't their tastes going to be more developed with that data point than without it? I would think so.
Also, are food and art really any different from other things? I'm having trouble thinking of a good that isn't valued partially on aesthetics or some other subjective measure.
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