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Bikini Baristas And Sexist Sausages: Food Marketing Gone Wrong

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
June 28, 2013

In Seattle, the city that sired Starbucks, you don’t have to travel more than a few steps to find a decent — nay, great — cup of joe. Java is the lifeblood of the city: Where other cities might offer walking tours of historic sites, in Seattle, “coffee crawls” take visitors to the city’s best-loved coffeehouses.

The obsession extends well across the state: Even on the drive to Olympic National Park, miles and miles of rural, unpeopled landscape are broken every so often by tiny kiosks hawking fancy macchiato.

All of which makes for a cut-throat atmosphere for coffee vendors: It’s not enough to simply make a decent cappuccino. Some find they need a shtick to stand out from the crowd.

And that, perhaps, explains one of the seamier sides of the region’s caffeinated habit: bikini baristas. Think Hooters, but with coffee instead of “great” wings. Apparently, even sexism gets filtered through the area’s favorite brew.

Yes, at some drive-through coffee stands, the baristas bare more than their espresso knowledge while whipping up your drink.

But at one such chain of stands, Java Juggs, it seems the services offered weren’t limited to topping customers off with foam. As the Seattle Times reports, police raided several of the stands and their sister operation – Twin Peaks – this week on suspicion that they were a front for prostitution and other lewd conduct. As the paper reports:

“Police say that some of the baristas at Java Juggs were making big bucks, including one who reportedly earned $100,000 in tips last year. Customers would routinely pay $20 for a cup of coffee and a ‘show’ by scantily clad barista that ranged from flashing the customer to sex, according to the search warrant.”

Sadly, Java Juggs has many competitors in Washington state (with groan-inducing names like Bikini Baristas and Natte Latte.) And this isn’t the only bit of sexist food news of this week. Alas, from Germany comes another example: sexist sausages.

Edeka, a German supermarket chain, is apparently now marketing “his and her” sausages, the German news site The Local reports. The women’s sausages, the site reports, “are half the size of their masculine counterparts and significantly more expensive;” they also feature a beefy, shirtless male on the packaging. (The men’s version comes with an image of seductively posed woman.)

German journalist and political scientist Antje Schrupp highlighted the ham-headed marketing move on her blog this week. Schrupp also reprinted an angry letter sent to the supermarket chain by journalist Susanne Enz, who denounced the packaging as a form of “dull sexism.”

Dull – and depressing. At least not every attempt to use women to market food is so clumsy. Care for a spoonful of Liz Lemon, anybody? [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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