When in Switzerland,
|I'm fond of fondue.
... you have to have fondue.
Something I learned today….
Apparently, fondue has been around for a while, at least since 1875, when the first fondue recipe was published as a town-dweller's dish from the lowlands of the western, French-speaking parts of Switzerland.
It was popularized as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) beginning in the 1930s as a way of increasing local overproduction of cheese. Too much cheese, too few cheese-eaters--the obvious fix is to figure out a way to increase local demand for local cheese.
And thus it came to pass that the Swiss Cheese Union created pseudo-regional recipes as part of the "spiritual defence of Switzerland" before World War II. After wartime rationing ended, the Swiss Cheese Union continued its marketing campaign, sending fondue sets to military regiments and event organizers across Switzerland as a way to spread the message of social cheese eating.
As a consequence, fondue is not just popular, but also now a symbol of Swiss unity. The marketing campaign successfully associates fondue with Swiss mountains, good times, and healthy outdoor winter sports.
Ever since those heady days, fondue has been promoted aggressively in Switzerland, with slogans like "La fondue crée la bonne humeur" ('fondue creates a good mood') and, in Swiss German, "Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune" ('fondue is good and creates a good mood') – usually abbreviated as the tongue-twister "figugegl."
Background: "History of Cheese Fondue" (Oct 29, 2009) – an interview with Isabelle Raboud-Schuele, by Gail Mangold-Vine. Originally published in www.Automnales.ch (http://www.automnales.ch/) Raboud-Schuele is the curator at the Alimentarium Food Museum in Vevey.
This is all fascinating backstory to this week's Challenge. My illusion of fondue as the simple national dish of Switzerland has been shattered. What I thought of as a regional, rustic dish of the commonfolk has been revealed to be the result of rather clever marketing.
And that thought made me wonder:
1. What other national foods have become popular as the result of intense marketing? (I'm especially interested in foods that are presented as being "of the people," but are, in fact, commercial successes driven by clever advertising?) Can you find one or two?
Of course, as always, we're deeply curious about HOW you found these other popular campaign-driven foods! Let us know!