They’re Not Lovin’ It

Film, Great Britain, Observatory

It says a lot about the British attitude to sport; the biggest Olympics story today is about chips.

More specifically, Olympics sponsor McDonalds, the well-known purveyor of health foods, who ‘own’ those sugar-drenched sticks they laughingly call fries and don’t let any other foodstuffs into the grounds. But following an outcry from disgruntled ground staff they’ve been forced to relent and allow in real chips.

What mystifies me is why a junk-food outlet would want to try and attach themselves to a contest of athletic prowess. Are their executives genuinely deluded into thinking the world will feel better about them? Junk food is associated with ill health, fat people, poverty, opportunism, crassness and bad capitalist practices, not discipline, stamina, grace, slenderness and fantastic health.

Such is the world of brand association. Instead of improving products or removing the bad things from them, the makers simply glue themselves onto something admirable by throwing the money they might have spent on improvements on advertising.

Meanwhile, researchers at Imperial College London think junk food outlets like KFC and McDonalds should supply UK customers with anti-cholesterol drugs along. The pills would be placed alongside other condiments like ketchup and salt, to offer people the opportunity to offset their high cholesterol meals.

Does brand association work? I don’t know anyone who eats burgers. I can count the number of McDonald’s I’ve eaten in my life on one hand. The same goes for Coca-Cola, but that’s because I find the taste vaguely reminiscent to sucking the end of a used comb.

30 comments on “They’re Not Lovin’ It”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    You’d have to eat in a KFC once a day, every day, to make your anti-cholesteral drug work. Shuddering here at the thought of a daily KFC mal. And there can be some pretty unfortunate side effects to those meds as well as the KFC goodies. However, as you have sounded a bit down – off and on – of late: KFC does offer the Happy Meal!
    Only 21/22 days to go.

  2. Jez Winship says:

    The Olympics even has an official beer. Leaving aside the inherent incompatibility of beer and athletics, you’d think that in a country renowned for its ales, which are, thanks to CAMRA, one of the last markers of regional distinctiveness, they’d choose something associated with Britain. Or even more specifically, the East End of London – beers from Truman’s brewery, for example. But no, the official beer supplier is Heineken. Poor show.

  3. Alison says:

    Hmm – well I don’t eat meat but I can vouch that McD’s veggie burgers (of which I have had one in a long, long life) are absolutely foul. So any brand association I have with McD’s involves worshipping the porcelain god. I am however, a Diet Coke addict. But does the brand association work? Probably with certain people, but I really can’t see that it’s the case as a rule, unless they somehow get it into your head subliminally. I suspect that the very young would be influenced by what their pop heroes/football heroes drink/eat/endorse, but I think (hope) as you get older, that you realise the cynicism behind it and have the nous to make your own decisions. I drink Diet Coke; I also drink Diet Pepsi; nothing has made me change my mind or drink anything else. But that’s because I have no heroes. Other than you of course, CF…

  4. Matthew says:

    I think is works the other way. Instead of making McDonalds look good, it just tarnishes the Olympics image, making the event look hypocritical. It says it is for the sporting ideal on one hand, while taking money to promote fast food on the other.

  5. Sam Tomaino says:

    Well, I love hamburgers but I would never eat a McDonald’s one. There are fast food burgers I like (like Wendy’s) but I would never consider them health food. They are, like many things, a treat to be enjoyed with moderation.
    Of course, if you were going to have a burger, you should eschew the fast food variety entirely.
    I will also admit that McDonald’s worldwide fame embarrasses me. We have much better burgers and McDonald’s is not representative of them
    Also, you ask “why a junk-food outlet would want to try and attach themselves to a contest of athletic prowess” The more important question would be “why a contest of athletic prowess would want to try and attach themselves to a junk-food outlet.”

  6. glasgow1975 says:

    While it is a bit hypocritical, it’s just a case of the world’s biggest brands chumming up with the world’s biggest sporting event, I don’t really think anybody blindly thinks MaccyD’s are in any way healthy or sporty. It would be a little colloquial to have a local brew as the official beer and the whole point ie money, would be severely lacking. I’m a bit confused tho as Innocent are the official Juice & Smoothie, but surely Coke is a juice? Is Coke the Official Coke of the Olympics?
    It’s a bit like all the packaging madness going on in supermarkets, does my toothpaste really need a Union Jack (or Flag) on it? Not really. . .does it make me buy it over another brand . . .not really. In Australia ‘home grown’ products all proudly trumpet their ‘Made In Australia’ credentials. . .I bought some proudly union jackified cream doughnuts in Tesco recently, (they were marked down don’t judge me! lol) on reading the small print however, it stated ‘assembled in Britain, from British and Imported ingredients’. It’s this that makes my blood boil more than every bloody brand in the world getting a bit of the Olympic action. If the packaging implies British, it should be. Not ‘imported but assembled in Britain’

  7. David F says:

    LOCOG can ban non-sponsor advertising in a 5 mile radius, they can tell you which credit card to use, what shirts not to wear, reserve roads for freeloading IOC officials, and put missiles on the roof of residential buildings. We shrug it off knowing that it will all soon be over.

    But do NOT f*ck with a Londoner’s chips. Then you will know the face of true fury.

  8. snowy says:

    Burgers, well they are nice once in a while, but they have to be home made, Lamb preferably with Mint mayonaise and lots of fresh salad.

    I don’t believe that they are “going for the health dollar”, as Bill Hicks might have said. But more the drip, drip, of constant repetition. So that when you think of a product, your next thought is of a brand name. Try “beans means ?” as an example.

    It can all go horribly wrong for the sponsor, and create a backlash. A lot of the deals only allow for a single supplier for each service. We used to call this putting all your eggs in one basket.
    There is only one credit card allowed for all purchases in the ‘lympic park. Imagine what would happen on a very hot day, if their card reader system failed and nobody could buy water for their children.

    Cola, nasty sugar water, and that bite you get at the end of each mouthful, that’s Phosphoric Acid, (it’s normally used to pickle steel).

    If you think the picture of American fast food staples is bad, you should never seek to know what’s in a Glasgow “Munchy Box”.

  9. Alan Morgan says:

    Heineken and MacSwineys is because of the international nature of the Olympics. You have to balance things out. What with the official Olympic hairstyle being a Croydon facelift and the official Olympic song being a rank, drunk shout at all the bloody immigrants coming over here (taking our medals, getting mansions off the government, on the dole) you’ll be so steeped in great British culture you’ll be grateful for your flavourless fries as opposed to proper British food like curry, and kidney, and kidney curry. The Olympics are only being held in Britain ’cause Europe made a law up telling us to. Still at least every event has to obey British tradition – four hours of boasting about it over booze we can’t take followed by a fight in a gutter swimming in dog-ends, and a fumbly piss all over our own fat yellow fingers against the podium.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  10. Dan Terrell says:

    I think, perhaps, the answer is simplier than has been suggested: money. The Olympics is a punishingly expense business for the host country and everyone else. If a big commercial company will buy in it pays a l-o-t to do so. Undoubtedly way beyond what even a big local brewery could afford. And KFC, well, they are an international organization with big budgets and brass in the bank. Since every host country has lost money on the Olympics for years, the more costs that can be laid off the better. Sad, but true.
    The original olympics were cheaper. How much did an olive oil rub and a decorative fig leaf cost anyway. And everone walked or rode on the back of a cart to the games and slept in the olive orchards.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    The Olympics is so much about money because it costs the equivalent of a good sized nation’s annual production to put them on. I bought spinach the other day instead of lettuce (I have a problem with green food)so I had spinach on my home made burger (beef with Major Grey’s chutney, mayonnaise,tomato and Walla Walla onion). It was surprisingly good. I also tasted a local beverage recently called Longboat Chocolate Porter. Sounds disgusting and my husband didn’t care for it but I thought it was really good. Comes in a slightly larger bottle so I shared with the barkeep.

  12. Alan Morgan says:

    At least the security problem has been solved. What with G4S employing a lot of old bouncers to man the gates then they’re not letting anyone in wearing trainers. Not so good for the athletes.

  13. Steve says:

    Not a fan of Mickey D’s. If we get burgers out, it’s Burger King and that rarely. I’m an American by accident of birth, so burgers are – well, everywhere. I prefer to make my own as well as my own fries…which when homemade tend to resemble chips in both appearance and flavor. Much tastier than the prefabs.
    As to why the juxtaposition of Mickey D’s and the Olympics….follow the money. It answers most questions.

  14. snowy says:


    At the risk of getting a fearful wigging for turning a polemic against corporate greed into a foodie thread. What does Major Gray’s chutney taste like? (I looked up the ingredients but was no wiser. It seems to be intriguing mixture of Lime Pickle, Mango Chutney and Brown Sauce.) My local shop doesn’t stock it, so I’ll have to look further afield.

  15. Dan Terrell says:

    Major Gray’s Lime Pickle and Mango Chutney are on our shelf. Very good. Haven’t tried his Brown Sauce. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the three mixed, but Helen may know.

  16. snowy says:

    I think Brown Sauce translates to Steak Sauce in the US.

    But in these parts if anyone in the Brown Sauce camp were to disparage the merits of Red Sauce or vice versa, it can get very heated, wars have been fought over less.

  17. FabienneT says:

    And apparently they (and other sponsors) were given, unsurprisingly, massive tax breaks as well… McDonald’s have now announced that they “will not be taking the tax breaks” but who is going to check that anyway? It’s becoming more and more like a script of the excellent “Twenty Twelve”!


    The UK’s winning Olympic bid included huge tax breaks for corporate sponsors.

    Together we can make these gigantic companies back down and refuse their Olympic tax-dodge.

    Please add your name to the petition and shame these Olympic corporate sponsors into doing the right thing.

    UPDATE: It’s working! McDonald’s have said they won’t be taking the tax break – but please sign the petition to keep pressure on the other sponsors.

  18. glasgow1975 says:

    mmmmmmm Munchy Box . . .
    Spinach is good on/in most things, I normally have a bag of frozen spinach & add a few ‘lumps’ to most things, soup, chilli, bolognese, stews etc

  19. snowy says:

    For those curious about the Munchy Box

    And to bring this vaguely back on topic, G4$ (‘lympic security) have been caught out falsifying staff attendance records to avoid penalties. And are accused of using untrained sniffer dogs for explo searches.

  20. Helen Martin says:

    When I look at the label I have Sharwood’s (brand) Major Grey and (in much smaller letters) mango chutney chutney de mangue [we’re in Canada]. {tasting} strong taste of mango with a sharp edge of vinegar and sweet after taste. I’m not partial to steak sauce or brown sauce except for HP occasionally. That was a good burger but it needed more spinach and chutney. Lay on the spinach! “I’m strong to the finich ’cause I eats me spinach! Oh, sorry about that. Just read the royal warrant on the bottle neck (cakes and culinary products) and discovered it’s actually made by Premier Foods PLC in Herefordshire. Shall we all quote from My Fair Lady?

  21. snowy says:

    You dear friend who talk so well, you can go to Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire!

    Thanks HelenM it seems from your description, to be more akin to a “relish”, than what we over here call chutney. That generally gets you nothing more exciting than a dollop of Branston Pickle. I’ll have to try a posher supermarket.

  22. glasgow1975 says:

    Apparently Patak’s and Crosse & Blackwell do a Major Grey Chutney here snowy, but is it different from our ‘Mango Chutney’? Never seen Major Grey, but I’ve not been looking . . .

  23. glasgow1975 says:

    What on earth are the things in the bottom left corner? They look like pet treats????

  24. Dan Terrell says:

    Lower left are pretzel snacks and the flavo(u)r looks to be cheese. The colo(u)r looks really offputting, perhaps the photographer had an art designer in to get it that way, or snapped the photo on a really sunny day.
    Fairly much all of Patak’s products – perhaps, northern Indian – not so fond of Cross & Blackwell – sorry – no screamers, please. Try Patak’s mixed pickle with hot litter dingers chopped in. It’s spicy, rich and thick with bits of veggies and takes some prying to unjar. Last word sounds like an Indian word.

  25. snowy says:

    @glasgow, I had a look in another supermarket, the one that sounds like, “stay flower” to no avail. However “the game’s afoot” and I may have better luck in one of the asian grocers.

    I think the horrors on the LH side that look like cattle feed, are called “Combos”. The official snack of NASCAR apparently.

    There is a link to the true glory of the Munchy Box above, when it gets out of moderation.

    @Dan I may regret this but what is a “hot litter dinger”? It unfortunately sounds like…, how can I put this delicately? A fresh contribution to a feline hygiene container.

    If your interest in Indian “loan words” in English is more than passing. The BBC have just produced a programme on Hobson-Jobson a rather eccentric dictionary of Anglo-Indian words.


    Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary’s short and mysterious title.

    The subtitle reveals more: “A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. By Colonel Henry Yule and AC Burnell. But even the word “discursive” doesn’t quite prepare the reader for what is to come.

    “It’s a madly unruly and idiosyncratic work,” says poet Daljit Nagra. “Not so much an orderly dictionary as a passionate memoir of colonial India. Rather like an eccentric Englishman in glossary form.”


    I cannot post a link or this post will get stuck, a search on Hobson-Jobson + BBC should take you there.

  26. Alan Morgan says:

    My first post was mocking by the way, it is on rereading not so immediately obvious.

    I was never much of a chain burger fan anyway, and I’ve not eaten in McSwineys for… many years. Twenty-something-something – especially since the McLibel case, which just confirmed what many of us thought anyway. I’ve had to wander off or wait outside such eateries with a book on some occasions when friends went in, and not long after moving up here one chum waved some sort of Mcmuffin at me one morning as if daring to comment. Personal choice, do as you wish, and so on.

  27. Dan Terrell says:

    “Hot litter dinger” is not a typo. Yes, I finally got to say that. It’s a twisty family thing. Should have warned you.
    What’s it mean? Some Indian relish is hard to pry out of the jar as it’s very well cooked, pasted up with tasty sauce, and jammed into the jar with what I can only believe was was a J. Arthur Rank gong basher. In amoung all the many oily bits are hot “discolored chillis”, often fatter than long, and hard to identify from the chopped mango pieces.
    A “dinger” is German for a thing: “Ja, Schatzi, das dinger, bitte.”
    So, while mining in a jar of hot mixed pickle – which we go through at about one jar every two months or less – one of the males in the family has been known to say: “Watch out for the hot litter dingers there.”
    (Not wishing to appear crude and call down the wounding comments of all the better reared among the readership, I will only say… litter, well, yes that.)

  28. Dan Terrell says:

    And I’m going with “amoung” being the British spelling of “among”. If not, thank heaven, Chris hasn’t imposed a tax on klunky posting. (Oh, not good. I may have just given him a profit generating idea. Suggest the new website include a “Wouldn’t you like to edit that?” box, such as on Amazon comments.)

  29. snowy says:

    Thank you for the explanation, and may I say an excellent recovery on the errant vowel. Though if you had kept shtum, I would have never noticed.

  30. Helen Martin says:

    Someone else might have, though. All of Patak’s line is popular in this household, with or without the warning. My husband does like the lime pickle, particularly. I find them a little on the virulent side.

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