Countless thousands of destroyed lives — it’s what’s for breakfast

Is it weird I was stopped in my tracks by the Cultural Revolution yogurt on display at Whole Foods? Yeah, I get it, yogurt, “culture,” but really — is that gag so funny that it’s worth hitching your brand to a decade-long frenzy of politically-inspired beatings, internal exiles, and killings, from which China is still recovering? It’s hard to imagine going to Whole Foods and finding Ethnic Cleansing shampoo. Or “Final Solution: the last contact lens cleaner you’ll ever need.”

Maybe I’m extra-sensitive because I just finished college roommate (and former WashPost Beijing bureau chief) Phil Pan’s Out of Mao’s Shadow. It’s the perfect book to read while you ingest facefuls of Olympic agitprop about new, free, sunny China. Among other things, Phil reports on the Party’s attempts to suppress the memory of the Cultural Revolution, razing the victims’ cemeteries and blanking the whole period out of newspapers and schoolbooks. If only they’d thought of selling yogurt with it instead!

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5 thoughts on “Countless thousands of destroyed lives — it’s what’s for breakfast

  1. A very interesting first-hand account of on that period of Chinese history is “Son of the Revolution” by Heng and Shapiro.

    But, yeah, I agree it’s pretty tacky, quite possibly inappropriate, to name a yogurt after the Cultural Revolution.

  2. John Cowan says:

    This may be ignorance rather than malice. Surely it was ignorance and not malice that caused the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army to name themselves “Storm Troopers” after their participation in the First Gulf War.

  3. Em says:

    My father had a co-worker who lived through the Cultural Revolution and all he did during that time was learn how to play the accordion.

    PS – your contributions to the field of insensitive marketing are disturbing.

  4. This is shockingly tasteless branding. I have relatives who were deemed intelligentsia and tortured by red guards. I think I will send these people a letter.

    I don’t think “storm troopers” carries the same weight, since they were regular fighting units in the German army, unlike the SA or SS, which served the internal genocidal purposes of the regime.

  5. Lucas says:

    I just bought some of this yogurt, and I’m conflicted. It is actually very good. Quite possibly the best yogurt I’ve had that wasn’t made fresh. On the other hand, I am opposed to senseless political oppression and genocide. Now I don’t know what to do.

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