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December 3rd, 2009:

Can political prisoners sell cars?

The old Chrysler used rap stars, scantily clad women, and shots of curvy coastal roads to try and sell cars. The new Chrysler is trying something a little different. It is using a political prisoner in its latest ad campaign.

The ad was released in conjunction with the 10th annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates—which itself was sponsored by Chrysler. The ad is a sentimental narrative about freedom set to images of the Berlin wall and Chrysler 300m cars. It features cameos from Gorbachev, Lech Walesa and Muhammad Yunus and ends with a call for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

Whether or not an obscure political prisoner in Myanmar Burma* who has spent the last 14 years under house arrest can sell more cars than Snoop Dog remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: this ad is a triumph of American marketing, and sponsorship.

*Apparently Chrysler has decided to weigh in on the Myanmar/Burma renaming controversy.  It lists Aung San Suu Kyi as the prime minister-elect of Burma.

Cereal Flow Chart [important decisions]

where-to-eat-cerealAs I wrote about earlier, breakfast cereal is one of the things that make America great.

It is quick, tasty and means we don’t have to eat a continental breakfast. What’s more, the sheer number of breakfast cereals available in the typical supermarket is one of the great achievements of American capitalism. There is almost literally a different cereal for everyone!

I am a Lucky Charms guy, myself. Unless, that is, I’m having more of a Raisin Bran day.

But just in case you don’t yet have a cereal of choice or want to try something new, the folks over at Eating The Road have developed a handy flow chart (like their Fast Food one), to help you decide.

#24. Breakfast Cereal

real American cereal isle

We're not in Communist Russia anymore.

As anyone who has stayed at a hotel knows, continental breakfast—which derives its name from the shit they call breakfast in Continental Europe—is horrible.

Generally  it consists of nothing more than hard rolls, dry muffins and day-old bagels served with bad coffee and a few drops of orange juice. What makes it worse is you are often asked to serve yourself this pitiful excuse for a meal.

American hotels love continental breakfast because it is cheap. Europeans, on the other hand, invented continental breakfast  out of some deep-seated hatred of good food—or perhaps just a genuine fondness for stale bread.

But in America, we don’t have to endure the misery of a continental breakfast on a daily basis because we invented breakfast cereal.

Sure, cereal was first developed by a radical vegetarian and then mass produced by religious extremists who thought the fiber content would help regularize Americans and combat a perceived masturbation epidemic, but that is no reason to write the stuff off.

Despite the questionable motives of its inventors, breakfast cereal is one of the great American institutions. Why? Because it’s better than the alternatives, massively profitable and often sugar coated.

Sure it would be nice to eat bacon, eggs, ham and sausage for breakfast every morning. But no one has time for that these days. We need convenience. That is why we happily pay more than $5 for a few ounces of cereal that cost literally pennies to produce.

American manufacturers have responded to our fondness for a quick and tasty breakfast by developing hundreds of different varieties of the stuff. Some are made of oats, some are made of wheat and others are comprised primarily of sugar (it makes it taste good).

The breakfast aisle of a modern American supermarket is a monument to what can be accomplished with a few dollars worth of wheat and a massive marketing budget. Just remember, however unhealthy a cookie-based cereal might seem, it is still “part of a balanced breakfast” and you should feed it to your kids anyway—the marketers say so.

God Bless America!

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