November 26, 2010

A trip to a Swiss supermarket

One of my favorite activities when visiting a new and different place is to take a long, leisurely stroll through the local grocer's, to observe and reflect upon the little differences. (Perhaps it's that dash of Tarantino nerdiness in me, though McDonald's is my Antichrist.) As far as this blog is concerned, that was the highlight of my trip to Puerto Rico last year, and it's one of the many diverting experiences of my current visit to Switzerland. (Land of the Switzers, I've been calling it cheekily, but turns out people did use to refer to the Swiss as "Switzers.") Right now I'm in the Alps, in the small town of Wengen, but my base is (and my supermarket visit was) in the city of Basel; both are within the neutral land's German-speaking region; this country is a mishmash of cultures, but somehow they don't seem to let it drive them loony like we Americans do.

So the products: There's the expected, like the slightly altered product names.
I'm sure there's a shade of meaning I'm missing, but I don't know why they've excised "Flakes" from the name here, or went without the German translation ("Flocke").

As for this…
…I'm just guessing that "Bounty" doesn't work in the German language. I always felt it was a weird product name anyway, seeing as how "bounty hunter" comes to mind. Boba Fett, always on the hunt for a strong but absorbent towel to mop up spills. Speaking of which…
The mop comes with a free bag of Legos, an amazingly mercenary example of that time-honored marketing strategy of "Attach something kids like to something adults can't get excited about buying so that the brats will scream and yell for it and the parents will decide they might as well choose your brand just to get the inhuman nagging to stop already."

Here's an interesting one:
"Sonne," of course, is German for "sun," but the translation seems a little superfluous, since "Capri" is essentially meaningless in English, at least in the bag-of-juice context.

This intrigued me:
Winnetou is a fictional Native American who is virtually unknown in the United States, yet is among the most enduring characters of German pop culture. (He first appeared in a series of novels written by a German in the late 19th century.) I first learned about him during my college a cappella days, when I heard this amusing song, which includes him in a pantheon of heroes with Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes. And what do you know, here he is, selling ice cream.

Here's a bad name from an American perspective:
Honey Bsss—I keep thinking "Honey Bullshit." And this piqued my interest, as a dedicated lover of cheesy snacks:
In English, these Goldfish crackers are declared "The Original." Hmm: Had Pepperidge Farm committed product thievery? Perhaps: A little research revealed that PF founder Margaret Rudkin stumbled upon the crackers in Switzerland in 1960 and soon introduced them to happy ubiquity in the U.S. I can't tell you more than that—I assume that everything was above-board—but damn, I should've bought a bag of these. Maybe tomorrow.

Not really product packaging, but an extremely disturbing ad:
"10% more enjoyable." What's the idea here? That the 10% extra joy has extended his smile to freakish proportions? Or that if you don't buy this, the manufacturer will surgically alter you into the hideous creature you see before you? And how do you quantify a level of enjoyment to the point of "10% more"? This is what you get in a nation of watchmakers.

And I have no idea why anyone would purchase Twix et al. in Switzerland, the country of delicious chocolate. I've run through several brands in the past two days, with rotting teeth and a happy stomach to show for it. Here's the supermarket's wall of chocolaty products:

The reason my nephews are so happy is that they get to live here and eat this stuff morning, noon and night (or will, once they get old enough to buy things with their own money). Einer für alle, alle für einen!

39 comments:

Bill Scurry said...

I love comparison shopping.

Jessica said...

I love pictures of your nephews (!)

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