NPR : News

Bikini Baristas And Sexist Sausages: Food Marketing Gone Wrong

In Seattle, the city that sired Starbucks, you don't have to travel more than a few steps to find a decent — nay, great — cup of joe. Java is the lifeblood of the city: Where other cities might offer walking tours of historic sites, in Seattle, "coffee crawls" take visitors to the city's best-loved coffeehouses.

The obsession extends well across the state: Even on the drive to Olympic National Park, miles and miles of rural, unpeopled landscape are broken every so often by tiny kiosks hawking fancy macchiato.

All of which makes for a cutthroat atmosphere for coffee vendors: It's not enough to simply make a decent cappuccino. Some find they need a shtick to stand out from the crowd.

And that, perhaps, explains one of the seamier sides of the region's caffeinated habit: bikini baristas. Think Hooters, but with coffee instead of "great" wings. Apparently, even sexism gets filtered through the area's favorite brew.

Yes, at some drive-through coffee stands, the baristas bare more than their espresso knowledge while whipping up your drink.

But at one such chain of stands, Java Juggs, it seems the services offered weren't limited to topping customers off with foam. As The Seattle Times reports, police raided several of the stands and their sister operation — Twin Peaks — this week on suspicion that they were a front for prostitution and other lewd conduct. As the paper reports:

"Police say that some of the baristas at Java Juggs were making big bucks, including one who reportedly earned $100,000 in tips last year. Customers would routinely pay $20 for a cup of coffee and a 'show' by scantily clad barista that ranged from flashing the customer to sex, according to the search warrant."

Sadly, Java Juggs has many competitors in Washington state (with groan-inducing names like Bikini Baristas and Natte Latte.) And this isn't the only bit of sexist food news of this week. Alas, from Germany comes another example: sexist sausages.

Edeka, a German supermarket chain, is apparently now marketing "his and her" sausages, the German news site The Local reports. The women's sausages, the site reports, "are half the size of their masculine counterparts and significantly more expensive"; they also feature a beefy, shirtless male on the packaging. (The men's version comes with an image of a seductively posed woman.)

German journalist and political scientist Antje Schrupp highlighted the ham-headed marketing move on her blog this week. Schrupp also reprinted an angry letter sent to the supermarket chain by journalist Susanne Enz, who denounced the packaging as a form of "dull sexism."

Dull — and depressing. At least not every attempt to use women to market food is so clumsy. Care for a spoonful of Liz Lemon, anybody?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Glimpse Of Listeners' #NPRpoetry — From The Punny To The Profound

It was a simple idea: Would you, our listeners, tweet us poems for National Poetry Month? Your response contained multitudes — haiku, lyrics, even one 8-year-old's ode to her dad's bald spot.
WAMU 88.5

Eating Insects: The Argument For Adding Bugs To Our Diet

Some say eating insects could save the planet, as we face the potential for global food and protein shortages. It's a common practice in many parts of the world, but what would it take to make bugs more appetizing to the masses here in the U.S.? Does it even make sense to try? A look at the arguments for and against the practice known as entomophagy, and the cultural and environmental issues involved.

WAMU 88.5

A Federal Official Shakes Up Metro's Board

After another smoke incident and ongoing single tracking delays for fixes, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a shake-up of Metro's board.

NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.