Budweiser wants to make America great again.
Just in time for this crazy campaign season, the king of beers is renaming itself “America” for the long, hot summer ahead.
Available from May 23 through election Day, the patriotic cans will feature phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance and lyrics from the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful .
Nothing is more American than cracking into an ice cold six pack of beer…and in this tumultuous, gut wrenching election, nothing may be more essential to getting through it.
Budweiser claims their aim is to “inspire drinkers to celebrate America and Budweiser’s shared values of freedom and authenticity.”
This America’s for You America
In this friendly, freedom loving land of ours, nothing says America like a cold brewsky and Budweiser has a long history of patriotic gestures.
Valuing authenticity, Budweiser saluted milestones in American history in a post war ad campaign called “Great Contributions to Good Taste.”
The lavishly illustrated ads highlighted personalities and events that had contributed to expanding America’s culinary history. Published during the deep freeze of the cold war, these warm and fuzzy tributes to American hero’s small and large naturally emphasized themes of freedom and patriotism.
The jingoist copy emphasized the goodness of America and an appreciation for our country and what it stands for.
Whether some of these ads themselves are in good taste are themselves questionable.
Brewing Up Some Myths
George Washington may be the father of our country but it is Thomas Jefferson who is often credited with being the father of macaroni and cheese.
No small wonder that the brilliant mind who promised us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness made it manifest in the creation of the ultimate comfort food.
But it may be a bit an exaggeration.
Though he was a connoisseur of fine food and drink it is doubtful that mac and cheese originated with him. That our third president was an enthusiast of macaroni there is no doubt.
His well-known love of macaroni was immortalized in a 1948 ad from Budweiser Beer in its campaign of “Great Contributions to Good Taste.”
“Most of us know that Thomas Jefferson expressed Americas idea of freedom by writing the Declaration of Independence but few know that he guided our forefathers to better living by also writing an excellent cookbook,” begins the copy in this ad.
“From Naples he got a mould to form spaghetti and introduced what today is one of our most important and popular foods. He did the marketing for the White House and presided genially over its inviting table. Jefferson earnestly believed that good food and drink temperately enjoyed each day with good friends were essential to a worthwhile lifetime.”
Connoisseur that Jefferson was, it’s doubtful he hoisted a Bud but preferred fine wines with the congenial friends who enjoyed his bountiful tables of food while dining at his gracious home Monticello.
It is also unlikely that Tom did his own marketing and cooking as the ad suggests, certainly nor when he had so many “others” to help him.
It’s no secret our freedom loving founding father was also a slave owner. In that home-loving land of friendly, freedom-loving land of ours, nothing said “America” like slavery.
Meal time at Monticello was a lot more elaborate than ad the copy suggests.
In an essay entitled The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson that appeared in Smithsonian Magazine , Henry Wiencek elaborates on dinner at Jefferson’s grand home:
‘The mansion sits atop a long tunnel through which slaves, unseen, hurried back and forth carrying platters of food, fresh tableware, ice, beer, wine and linens, while above them 20, 30 or 40 guests sat listening to Jefferson’s dinner-table conversation, At one end of the tunnel lay the ice house, at the other the kitchen, a hive of ceaseless activity where the enslaved cooks and their helpers produced one course after another.”
During dinner Jefferson would open a panel in the side of the fireplace, insert an empty wine bottle and seconds later pull out a full bottle. The panel concealed a narrow dumbwaiter that descended to the basement. When Jefferson put an empty bottle in the compartment, a slave waiting in the basement pulled the dumbwaiter down, removed the empty, inserted a fresh bottle and sent it up to the master in a matter of seconds.
Similarly, platters of hot food magically appeared on a revolving door fitted with shelves, and the used plates disappeared from sight on the same contrivance. Guests could not see or hear any of the activity, nor the links between the visible world and the invisible that magically produced Jefferson’s abundance.”
America’s Earliest Thanksgiving …Was For Corn
Squanto, this Buds for you.
In this 1947 ad Budweiser offers a holiday Thanksgiving toast to Native Americans whom they fondly call “The Red Man.”
“With joyous chants and throbbing tom-toms, the Indians celebrated each bountiful harvest of maize. How the red man would marvel to see the part his native grain plays in the nutrition and industrial prosperity of modern America.”
Yes, America’s golden crop of corn has certainly contributed to America’s bounty and added plenty of wampum to the white man’s wallets.
“Corn is transformed into millions of pounds of sizzling steaks, chops, roasts, savory hams, fried chicken, and roast goose. Frozen and canned corn add a variety of delicious dishes for gracious living.”
“Corn,” they declare proudly , “has raised the standard of good eating!”
This particular ad could certainly have been from Corn Products Refining Company who in the late 1940’s spent a great deal of money in advertising promoting the virtues of high fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive form of dextrose much favored by manufacturers.
Not unlike today when the Corn Refiners are trying to re-brand High Fructose Corn Syrup as “corn sugar,” so decades ago the Corn Products Refining Company was fighting a similar battle to have sugar derived from corn accepted as a wholesome, nutritious ingredient, superior to old-fashioned cane or beet sugar.
Just as corn has raised our standard of living greatly so has its neighbor barley, that goes into making Budweiser so appealing to taste and adds good cheer to every party.
Live life every golden moment of it. Enjoy Bud every golden drop at holiday time and Thanksgiving.
Budweiser’s encouragement “to live life, every golden moment of it” didn’t work out so well for the “Red Man.”
Although the Wampanoag Indians joined for a meal of Thanksgiving in 1621, the Indians didn’t fare so well at other Thanksgiving observances.
The fact is, the second generation of Pilgrims got greedy for land and Indians had to fight for survival.
Without any sugar-coating, the truth is within 50 years the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. Indians living near settlers would be killed or die of disease.
Racial stereotypes and historical inaccuracies have long been as traditional a Thanksgiving fixture as cranberries and stuffing, though nowadays not quite as easy to swallow.
Civilizing the Old West
This homage to good taste and hospitality celebrates “the civilizer of the west” restaurateur Fred Harvey.
“On time or late, travelers in the ‘70s could count upon one thing with absolute certainty. Their meals along the way would be the worst imaginable.
In 1876 young Fred Harvey opened his first restaurant in Topeka and astounded patrons with tempting dishes expertly cooked and served. Soon Harvey hotels and restaurants followed Santa Fe rails across half the continent. Then came the dining car making train passengers in America the best fed on Earth.”
Fred Harvey’s taming of the West did not involve a gunfight at high noon.
The business man is credited with creating the first restaurant chain in the U.S. The company and its famous waitresses known as Harvey Girls brought new standards of both civility and dining to a region widely regarded as the wild,wild west.
“In that same year of 1876,” the ad copy boasts proudly, “Budweiser came into being and quickly took its rightful place beside the best that cooking skill had to offer.
As yesterday so today every sip tells you why it is something more than beer- a tradition in hospitality.”
American hospitality however, was apparently not extended to Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse.
In that same year 1876 while Harvey was “civilizing the west” the U.S. Calvary was doing its share of “civilizing” too.
The Great Sioux War of 1876 were a series of battles involving Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne against the U.S. The cause of the war was the desire of the US government to obtain ownership of the Black Hills of the Dakota territory. Once Gold had been discovered in the Black Hills, settlers began to encroach onto native American lands, and the natives refused to cede ownership to the U.S.
After Sioux chieftains Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse refused to comply with U.S. government orders to leave, the U.S. Cavalry attacked beginning the Great Sioux War.
Custer’s last stand notwithstanding, Uncle Sam was able to force Indians to surrender primarily by attacking and destroying their encampments and property. The Agreement of 1877 officially annexed Sioux land and permanently established Indian reservations.
At the same time hospitable Harvey was building his hotels and restaurants through the old west, Native American tribal structure was being dismantled.
Hospitality is Quickly Recognized in Dixie
Nothing says hospitality like the Antebellum South .
“Yes, be it lavish or modest, hospitality is quickly recognized as an expression of friendliness and so is Budweiser. ”
The gracious hospitality of the Old South was celebrated by Budweiser in 1948. That same year while some Americans were hoisting a beer to southern hospitality, others were also hoisting the Confederate flag.
Toasting the Old South’s contribution to good taste may not seem to be in good taste today, but the depiction of the southern hospitality of a plantation owner admired in this ad, ran the same year the Confederate flag was adopted by the Dixiecrats, the segregationists that formed to oppose the civil rights platform of the Democratic party that called for racial integration and reversal of Jim Crow laws.
In 1948 the fear that the federal government (and one controlled by a Democrat of Confederate stock no less) intended to tell the White majority how to treat “our Negroes,” was too much. Southerners needed to “preserve their way of life.”
Lavishing the plantation legend, Budweiser praised Southern geniality in their ad:
“Yes, be it lavish or modest, hospitality is quickly recognized as an expression of friendliness.”
With a nod to their loyal customers below the Mason Dixon line the ad notes : “Certain customs may vary in different parts of our vast country, but thoughtful locals in the every clime have learned guests welcome Bud as a gracious compliment.”
What exactly were these “gracious customs” the “thoughtful locals” of Dixie wanted to preserve?
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.