America v. Deutschland: Products

July 13, 2010

All kinds of goodies from the US of A

My first trip to a US military base here was an experience in conflicting emotions. When we drove into the main center, I saw immediately why it's referred to as "little America." I was astounded to see all the fast-food American brands I hadn't seen in months - Popeye's, Cinnabon, Seattle's Best Coffee, Baskin Robbins. All this was shipped overseas to create a 'home-like" experience for Americans serving their country overseas, but I had to wonder, coming from the land of amazing culinary experiences in the likes of San Francisco, New York and Chicago, Popeye's and Burger King was the best they could do? And don't even get me started on Baskin Robbins versus European gelato! The fact that this was what was representative of American culture had me wary of what I would find inside.

I went with my mind set on picking up just a few of my favorite comfort foods from the states: JIF peanut butter, Kraft mac & cheese, real brown sugar (which unfortunately, by the time we got to the commissary, I completely forgot). What I did not expect to see was all the superfluous items, and in such abundance - at least 30 different kinds of Coach handbags, entire aisles dedicated to a comprehensive line of products from Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, and so many different cleaning products I wondered how I managed to keep our apartment clean without it all. It really drove home the cultural differences between Europeans' and Americans' need for choice, and in general, stuff.

Some of America's finest offerings (not going to lie, that cinnamon roll was pretty tasty)

All that said, there were some things that the American in me found very exciting, namely because of poor alternatives offered here in Germany. The aisle of Yankee Candles was especially enticing, considering German's aren't really big on the scented stuff and having a stinky dog dictates that we must invest in good-smelling products. The tortilla chips, (real) cheddar cheese, JIF, deodorant and Tide pens also topped the list. Germany has its version of all these, but they just don't live up to the American ones. 

While it was a fun trip, I am so glad we live in this new country and have all of its amazing offerings to fill our lives and home with: Apotheken filled with amazing skin products from La Roche-Posay, Vichy and Eucerin; kebap instead of fried fast food; the soda made with real sugar; and pretty much everything without all the preservatives and fake additives. Now if only Germany would get with the baking program and offer self-rising flour, brown sugar, pecans and vanilla, we'll be all good. On that note, America should once and for all jump on the metric bandwagon. 100 degrees is boiling and 0 degrees is freezing point - it just makes sense and frankly, everyone else is doing it.

Deutschland winning the match for 3rd place

As I am giving props to my new home country, I must congratulate Germany on its impressive showing at the World Cup as well the dedication of its fans. People here were die-hard supporters of their country - wearing face paint, leis and team jerseys to every public viewing - but also willing to concede, and congratulate, when another team outplayed them. The team was welcomed home this week by an airport of cheering fans, rather than animosity for not winning (Brazil, anyone?). I think the world could learn a thing or two about sportsmanship and how to be a good fan from Germany. 

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische