12
Mar
09

German fried chicken: Obama fingers on sale now

For a limited time only. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

obama-fried-chicken-fingers-frozen-food-germany-marketing-dipshits

According to Der Spiegel, the makers of Obama fried chicken fingers hadn’t a clue as to the racial overtones immediately apparent to anyone with a passing knowledge of American cultural history.

Must be true. Otherwise they could be accused of being on the same level as the Republican jerks who issued a newsletter during the election campaign depicting Obama eating fried chicken and watermelon on a $10 food stamp.

Hat tip to amiexpat and Germany Doesn’t Suck. Oh and to mausi, who’s said she’ll try to get me a package if they’re still in stock.

Update April 1:  A Brooklyn diner re-names itself Obama Fried Chicken


51 Responses to “German fried chicken: Obama fingers on sale now”


  1. March 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Actually, they look pretty good — much better than something you’d get at a fast food place in the states.

  2. March 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I’m going to be the first dummy to admit I had no idea about the fried chicken thing until well into adulthood. What can I say, I was sheltered…
    I need to find some of these Obama Fingers, though.

  3. March 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Didn’t they do any cross-cultural market testing with these?! All I can think of is someone’s bony finger in a box. Plus, what’s with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background? I don’t associate Obama or chicken fingers with San Francisco!

  4. March 12, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4087776,00.html?maca=en-newsletter_en_germany-light-2089-txt-nl

    deutsche welle/ap feed…this is something that I would expect from China. Oh well…

  5. March 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    This is so wrong on such a huge scale that I cannot believe for one moment it was intentional. I’m surprised this didn’t get more coverage in the U.S. Davis is right, though. I wish I had a big platefull in front of me right now with a bottle of beer chaser.

  6. 7 Zitoun
    March 12, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Ian, you can get them at Plus in Hamburg along with some other “typically American” items this week. I saw them there yesterday. Should have picked some up for you, huh?

    • March 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Zitoun! I had a day off today and went to a Plus store not far away for, uh… research… :-) but no Obama Fingers to be found. Are you in Hamburg? Which location has them? It would be fun to do a taste test.

  7. March 12, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Do they sell watermelon as well?

  8. March 12, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    With spearmint leaves?

    • March 13, 2009 at 7:12 am

      Yes, those do look like spearmint leaves as a garnish. But curry dip? The Germans have this thing for what they call “curry” sauce – basically a gooey, sweet, rather bland mixture they eat with sausage called – surprse, surprise – currywurst.

      Just took a closer look at these chicken thingies. They really do taper like fingers…

  9. 13 J
    March 13, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I hate to admit it, but they were quite good.

    • March 13, 2009 at 7:33 am

      Just mailed Zitoun – her comment is above – asking her which Plus store in Hamburg is selling them. As long as it’s not clear across the city, I’ll go pick up a box or two. :-)

  10. March 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I thought they were being sold at Netto — at least that was the impression I was left with… I hope they are still on sale when I get back to Germany next Monday!

  11. 16 writechicpress
    March 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I read forever ago about another German marketing clusterf@#$ with the product Vick’s Vapor Rub. The problem was Vicks is very close to the German slang for coitus.

    What’s the story, Ian?

    Urban legend or true?

    • March 13, 2009 at 8:44 pm

      Ah, that would be the problem in reverse – something from outside Germany being a laugh for the Germans. Another one was some sort of spray mist – Mist is manure, most often used as we’d say: Damn!

  12. March 13, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Tiefgefroren? try saying that really quickly. with an australian accent.

  13. March 14, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Okay, is there something wrong with me? I don’t see it, the racism I mean, just as I didn’t get the watermelon thing. Do they carry this racism thing just a little to far? Just wondering…by the way I don’t have a racist bone in my body…ciao

    • March 14, 2009 at 6:34 am

      Hi Rositta. The Spiegel article didn’t get into it and neither did I, so here’s a quick summary from you-know-where:
      Since the Civil War traditional slave foods like fried chicken, watermelon, and chitterlings, have suffered a strong association with African American stereotypes and blackface minstrelry. This was commercialized for the first half of the 20th century by restaurants like Sambo’s and Coon Chicken Inn, which selected exaggerated blacks as mascots, implying quality by their association with the stereotype. While acknowledged positively as soul food in the modern age by many, the affinity that African American culture has for fried chicken has been considered a delicate, often pejorative issue; While still present, this perception has been fading for several decades with the ubiquitous nature of fried chicken dishes in the US and a gradual rejection of race-based stereotypes

      The people at the frozen food company aren’t racists, just culturally unaware. The Republicans who came out with their stupid little newsletter are another matter.

  14. March 14, 2009 at 6:36 am

    By gods, not 90 days into the job and they are eating his fingers, what next?

  15. March 14, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Wow, even comes with curry sauce.

  16. March 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Yipes! Poor advertising at best! It’s a total turnoff to the product they are trying to sell. I don’t get the Golden Gate Bridge in the background as a connection. At least use some sort of German icon as a backgroud and don’t implicate the USA in this blatant racial slur.

    • March 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Pam – just online right now and saw your comment drop in. I don’t think it was meant to offend, really. It just shows they didn’t do their research or had no clue to even think of doing reseach – I don’t know which is worse. The result is more humorous than offensive.

  17. March 14, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I see several comments here that seem to imply the company offering the Obama finger products should have done their research or googled or bit or something.

    For what? To see if mainstream inhabitants of Germany — Germans, ostensibly the target demographic here, and not those among us who “know better” — would be offended by the product? The question itself is absurd.

    I wonder if Germans living in the U.S. made as big a fuss over this marketing campaign as we are here about these chicken fingers. Anyone know?

    It still is funny, in my opinion, and highly interesting. I’m off to go get some American-style frozen pizza (i.e., it’s got corn kernels strewn about on it).

    • March 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

      Not really. When you think about how easily it is today to transmit images around the world, something produced for sale in one market – like Obama Fingers in Germany – can seem funny and / or stupid in another, even if it’s not being sold there. It’s why websites like engrish.com are funny every time. Not just poorly written English, but you also get obvious weirdness like a canned drink sold in Asia called Pocari Sweat, for example.

      Maybe they’d have discovered the connection and called the American fingers? I dunno….

  18. March 16, 2009 at 2:13 am

    I’m from San Francisco, and my father was from Westfalen. Neither of us ever had anything called “currywurst”, nor have I ever seen the President’s family in the city of my birth.
    All racism aside, I still don’t get the point of associating these fried thingys with the US President? Is it seen as haute American cuisine? Is it meant to be an honor?
    I agree with you, even at their curry-wurst {groan} our German friends have not outdone this from my home state: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/25/white-house-watermelon-em_n_169933.html

  19. March 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Muse,
    It was all part of some American-style food promotion hoping to cash in on the new President’s celebrity, complete with products surrounded by Yes We Can posters, US flags and other icons.

    You haven’t had currywurst? There’s hardly a weekly market without at least one stand selling them along with other types of Wurst. There was even a novel made into a movie recently on the origin of currywurst. As usual, a wartime theme:

    http://www.kinocritics.com/film_review.php?f=685

  20. March 16, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Empty box is hurtling through time and space as we speak! :-)

    Both Plus and Netto had the fingers and our Netto still had 7 boxes on Friday so I guess they weren’t wildly popular. Our 15 yr old says there’s plenty of news about this on the German internet as well.

    While the “curry dip” is quite awful (well, Mr. M liked it, but he’s German!),these fingers are actually way better than the other non-presidential ones that Sprehe Feinkost usually sells.

  21. March 16, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Hey Christina, the box arrived today. Thanks! :-)

    They look good on paper, anyway…

  22. 31 Zitoun
    March 16, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Strangely enough I never got your e-mail. I wonder what address I used before? I live in Hamburg and saw the Obama fingers at the Plus on Hammer Landstraße. This was on Wednesday or Thursday, though. If I can make it back there soon, I’ll stock the freezer and let you know. We could do a taste test for the blog. :+) Well, yours, not mine. Mine is not really even a blog any more. :+)

    • March 17, 2009 at 10:01 am

      Hi Sally,
      It could be that my mail went straight to your spam dump, because I also received no notice of non-delivery.
      Thanks for the tip! I just might head over there if I get a chance today or tomorrow.

      Edit: whoa, just checked the street map – that’s waaay too far away. :-)

  23. 33 ali
    March 17, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Obama is coming to my town on Wednesday. I can only pray somebody asks him about these delicious looking Obama Fingers.

  24. 34 Michele J
    March 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Oh man, talk about clues for the clueless. I think they must have used the same advertising agency that did the macabre “Jedem das Seine” campaign for Burger King in Erfurt. You know, flame-broiled, just the way you like it. Finger-lickin’ good! But perhaps I am mixing up my metaphors here… For the record, I think the inappropriateness of the Obama Fingers was almost surely unintentional; with Burger King and more recently Esso and Tchibo, I’m honestly not so sure; for reference, http://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/tchiboesso100.html

    • March 18, 2009 at 6:40 am

      Hi Michele,
      “Jedem das Seine” – to each his own – must have meant to the Nazis as: “to each what he deserves,” right? That’s a good recent example of the same thing happening, though I find it astounding that Germans themselves have forgotten that part of their own history. Or is it simply not as well known as “Arbeit macht frei” – can you imagine the Bundesagentur for Arbeit using that as a slogan? Completely unthinkable.

  25. 36 Betty
    March 18, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    The German people liked Obama before the election and supposedly still do.

    There is obviously “Free Enterprise” alive and well in Germany. This product is a fly by night item. It will be here today and gone tomorrow. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. That is the best way to make your voice heard.

    You cannot dictate morality, character or responsibilty. Obama was under the teachings of Reverend Wright for 20 years, he married him and his wife Michelle, baptized both of his daughters and this “Reverend” hates the white man and preaches it loud and clear. Obama has had association with William Ayers who has been a Terrorist Activist for many years. And people are worried about a few chicken fingers. This is NEGLIGIBLE!!!!!

    • March 18, 2009 at 10:38 pm

      Betty,
      You’re right, it is neglibible – about as important as those oft-repeated right-wing smears are against Obama. It was merely pointing out a cultural faux pas that this German company was completely unaware of.

  26. March 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

    This reminds me of your Black Bastard post. So you eat “Obama Fingers” with a drink of black bastard and for dessert, a Negerkuss???

  27. March 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I noticed too – and good riddance to them. I checked at archive.org – disappeared in March 2008 after about six months online.

  28. April 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I know this amazing post has gotten more traffic than it ought, but, I came across this today. Sheesh!
    I looked at the Brooklyn place. I believe I’m glad I live 2500 miles away from there. :)

  29. 43 nubs
    August 31, 2009 at 5:12 am

    fingers………you want fingers, well I just cut three fingers off my left hand (I am left handed) on a table saw and the contractor didn’t have any insurance……..so I got half of a thumb and half of an index finger that I thougth I could action off to help me survive until I recover……….this ain’t on joke, got them in a jar with alcohol……funny to see your fingers in a jar, dirty fingernails and all……so how do I approach selling these things that used to be my fingers?……..any comments welcolmed…..P

  30. August 10, 2010 at 7:52 am

    And they’ve used the Golden Gate Bridge instead of the typically used Statue of Liberty as a symbol of America! I’m going to look for this on my next trip grocery shopping across the border in Germany. Great post! I found your blog via This non-American Life.


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