Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Not Custard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
In case you missed the pick of the day, the latest series of Harry and Paul started last night on BBC 2. While most of it merely plundered and rehashed their back catalogue of old ideas and characters, I thought the Dragons' Den sketch alone was worth tuning in for.

The scene opens with a couple of quivering entrepreneurs attempting to pitch their brainchild; a pudding supplement called 'I Can't Believe It's Not Custard'. The idea is trounced and they're unceremoniously ejected from the Den, only to return dressed as Rastafarians to hawk the same idea (clearly a thinly veiled reference to Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce). This time the Dragons can't wait to throw money at 'Me Kwan Believe It Nat Custard', their motivation being to 'out PC' each other by backing a pair of ethnic minority candidates. The deal goes pear-shaped when they're exposed as blacked-up impostors, but that's not the point.

I did think at the time that Levi's sauce wouldn't have got off the starting blocks if he'd been a dull, middle class, white, corporate type with a neat hair cut. Let's face it, the product is no more special than any run-of-the-mill jerk/barbecue sauce; it's essentially Asda's own brand variety delivered by a Bob Marley clone with a large dollop of Caribbean 'soul' ...and a few creepy crawlies if the production line workers all wear dreads!

What's more, it doesn't "put some music in your food" at all. I've seen it slopped onto a pile of chicken and veg and it didn't make so much as a peep. So that's a fib. The claim that the 'secret' recipe for Reggae Reggae Sauce was passed down by Levi's late grandmother has also been disputed... and anyway, it's hardly an enigma when the ingredients are listed in black and white on the jar (as stipulated by Food Standards Agency labeling regulations).

It just goes to show how easily public perception can be swayed by presenting an everyday item as exotic; as a corollary it becomes more alluring, mystical, and ultimately superior to an equivalent home-grown product.

This is apparent in adverts we see in British newspapers for supposedly revolutionary new medical treatments. Emblazoned in bold letters they'll often vociferate, 'developed in the US!!!', as if that somehow lends the technique unmitigated credibility. For balance they should point out that 'My Therapy Buddy (TM)' and George Bush were also 'developed in the US!!!'.

Eastern philosophies are another example. By movies in particular we are led to believe that the more steeped in vague mysticism and spirituality a culture is, the wiser its protagonists must be. Strangely enough if a local nutter cross-leggedly gazes skyward, arms outstretched reciting gobbledygook mantras to summon inner strength and chi equilibrium, he's considered just that.


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