The Hungry Man Eats

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The Yuengling Affair Makes Me Want to Drink, But I Will Drown My Concerns With More Yuengling


I tend not to discuss politics on this site even though many of the aspects of food can be political in nature, so maybe I should talk politics more as it pertains to food.


That said, it is November 3, 2016 and the dumpster fire of the 2016 presidential election will thankfully be done soon. So how does the election intersect with food? I found out a few days back that the owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son, the company that owns Yuengling brewery hosted Donald Trump’s son and said “Our guys are behind your father.”, essentially endorsing Trump. I also learned that as a result of said interaction that a number of people are now worked up in a foamy lather much like the head on a good beer and are calling for a boycott of their beer.


If you know me, you know where I stand politically, if you don’t I will devote one line of text to my opinion of the presidential election:


Trump: Bad policies, even worse human being, thoroughly unsupportable.


So what about the beer? I imagine that this is the same issue that lovers of Chik-Fil-A went through a few years back when it was revealed that the owner was against same-sex marriage and that the corporation had donated millions of dollars to organizations that had anti-gay leanings. Controversy ensued, a boycott got going and a counter-boycott was started as well. In the end, the awareness and public pressure worked, Chik-Fil-A changed their policies and donations to those sorts of organizations decreased considerably.


Again, so what about the beer? The similarity between these two events is that both companies make beloved, delicious products. Who wouldn’t want to eat a Chik-Fil-A sandwich washed down with a bottle of Yuengling? The difference? The Chik-Fil-A kerfuffle was a much bigger deal that the Yuengling affair is. Real money was changing hands to benefit groups that engaged in discriminatory practices with Chik-Fil-A, the owner of Yuengling told the offspring of a presidential candidate that he supported their fathers candidacy, and it appears that no financial support has been made. I repeat, no money, just an opinion voiced.


So what about the beer, I ask again… It came up in conversation the other day when I had joined a friend for a happy hour. The establishment had Yuengling on draft and I might get a Yuengling but that they had supported Trump. My friend seemed skeptical (about the choosing not to drink it because of the whole Trump thing) and brought up Chik-Fil-A and how they have always enjoyed it and just kept eating it anyway, the politics were a non-factor, but the enjoyment of their food was. What ended up happening? I got myself a glass of Yuengling and it was the best damn glass of beer I had in many months.


After the beer was long gone, I was still thinking about food and drink and boycotts and if any of it really matters. I have had many a Chik-Fil-A meal in recent years and Yuengling really is my favorite beer and beer company of all time and I have no intentions to stop drinking it, so my mind does take pause at the corporations political leanings, but my actions show that I would not consider those things reasons to eat somewhere else or change my selection of beer and drink an alternative.


Would anybody have blinked an eye if the owner of Yuengling if it was 2012 and he said the same thing to one of Mitt Romney’s sons? I doubt it, it would have been a political preference expressed by a business owner (a number of whom tend to have conservative leanings) and would have received minimal attention.


I kept pondering and thought at what point do you go from disagreeing about something political with a person or business and just letting that be how it is, even if you as an individual decide that you will choose not to patronize them anymore, and actively taking action that could undermine their ability (the owner, corporation or employees) from being able to pursue their livelihood to support themselves (and/or their employees)? I decided that the organized boycott was one of the things that be that inflection point, as well as the modern ability to review a place or a business online and provide a poor review or negative opinion that does not reflect a real engagement or patronage of that business.


I do believe that an organized boycott can and should be used as circumstances warrant (which isn’t all that often) and that the whole Yuengling affair doesn’t rise to the occasion (but if you as an individual choose to not drink their products, I have no issue with that).


Then I remembered what had been bugging me and why I mention the part about the ability to pursue one’s livelihood. Do you remember a pizza joint in Walkerton, Indiana called Memories Pizza? They were briefly a big deal back in the spring of 2015 when the family that owns the place was asked a hypothetical question about whether they would cater a gay wedding. They said, no they would not as it was against their religion. Word of their opinion go out quickly and the dogpile began online and on places like Yelp where tons of people expressed their distaste with the restaurateur’s opinion. The owners soon feared for their safety and closed the restaurant soon thereafter. I believe that the restaurant owner’s opinion was completely wrong too, but as a result of their opinion, they lost the ability to pursue their livelihood. So who is the actual problem here? The people who had a distasteful opinion about how to run their business (which was expressed in an interview where they supported Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is a bullshit law that lets people discriminate and then hide behind religion as an excuse)), or the people who piled on and destroyed their ability to pursue their livelihood? Frankly I have more distaste for the faceless hordes on the internet that ruined their business than the people with the repugnant opinion. One thing that still happened afterwards was a Go Fund Me campaign was started to help the restaurateurs, and it raised $840,000 on their behalf, so they didn’t really come out of it all that bad, but they still lost their ability to pursue their livelihood.


To wrap up, feel free to choose alternatives to businesses that don’t share your views, think hard about whether a boycott is the right way to address a difference of opinions and if you screw up a law abiding individual or businesses ability to pursue their livelihood, then you are the bad guy in the situation.

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