February 3, 2019

Food for Thought

I’ve been noticing many food products with Japanese words and names that come from China and Taiwan that are not actually Japanese. This isn’t to say these products are bad. I’ve had many of them and many were good. It’s just like American restaurants and food products that have French names, like Au Bon Pain. In Japan too, you would see a lot of businesses and products with Chinese, French, Italian, and American names.

We all appropriate other cultures within our own. But as in any form of art, appropriation is not easy to detect for foreigners. For instance, Warhol appropriated Campbell’s soup cans; he didn’t seriously think they are the most beautiful objects. To appreciate his sense of appropriation, you’d have to know enough about the American culture and what Campbell’s represents in it.

In this globalized economy, many products branded with appropriated foreign cultures are shipped everywhere. This becomes rather confusing because most of us don’t know enough about the originating cultures to detect the sense of appropriation.

I’m curious, for instance, what people in Europe, particularly in Denmark think of Häagen-Dazs which was founded by Jewish-Polish immigrants in the Bronx.

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