(Wo)Man Up!: Take it as it is or don’t take it at all

Some things just shouldn’t be fucked with. But some people just can’t leave well enough alone and have to proceed to put “their spin” on something until they end up with a New & Improved bullshit version of a product that had no need of becoming either. Any of my closest friends, all two of them, will tell you that I am a fan of ingenuity and invention, but only when it’s needed, not in the name of tailoring a product to every Tom, Dick, and dumbshit Harry. Normally, I try to reserve criticism of anything that doesn’t directly affect me, not because I want to present an aire of tolerance, but typically because I’m too lazy to argue about something I could give two shits about. However, on a recent trip to my local Fine Spirit Emporium (aka the liquor store), I was shocked speechless for the better part of five minutes when I encountered a travesty in the whiskey isle. I speak, of course, of Jack Daniel’s Honey.

As I stood in the middle of the isle, preventing access to such local favorites as Good Times and Evan Williams, I grasped for some sort of justifiable reasoning for why the producer of one of the world’s finest spirits would stoop to the level of adding flavoring to its product. Right then and there, I cast the first two curses of my entire life: Curses upon the feeble-minded Marketing “genius” who would suggest such an abomination; and, Curses upon the clueless C-Level employee who green-lit the project rather than firing the soul who suggested it. May both of them be cast into the unimaginable hell of attending back-to-back tapings of The View every day for the rest of their lives.

I know this is nothing new and that Vodka distillers have been adding new flavors faster than Lindsey Lohan can violate the rules of her probation. But I have long held Jack Daniels above such low class shenanigans, admiring their ability to serve as a proud role model of tradition and integrity. What am I to do now? Now I will have to refer to my drunken outings according to my awareness of JD’s fall from grace: Before Honey (BH) and After Honey (AH). That way people will know what level of respect should be attributed to my tale of debauchery. I don’t have a problem with Jack Daniel’s branching out and offering their customers a new product. I just don’t like that they’ve done irreparable damage to the Old No. 7 reputation by associating their new sissified offering. Millions of people associate that beautiful black & white label with a badge of pride that only the most determined of Boy and Girl Scouts earn by being able to appreciate an American classic. They didn’t use honey in 1866 because they knew folks could handle the smooth burn – ney, expected and savored that smooth burn – contributed by the oak aging and charcoal filtering processes. In short, JD made a product and those that wanted to drank it, those that didn’t put it down and picked up something else, no hard feelings. What JD should have done was create a new brand (Poser’s Best No. 1, perhaps) and leave the tradition of Old No. 7 as is, untarnished.

Equally as upsetting than the disgrace of my favorite distiller is the larger trend of companies tailoring their product to a despicable demographic: posers. You’ve seen these people, they’re the ones who want to be seen doing something, but not actually doing it. Their shelves are stocked full of books they’ve not read, but want people to think they have; they’ll tell you they adore souvlaki, especially his early work; they have to load their coffee with four sugars and five non-dairy, low-fat French Vanilla creamers. Perhaps their worst offense is this last travesty: having to make something it’s not in order to tolerate it. If you have to add the juice of two whole limes (or an orange, in any form) to your beer in order to choke it down, maybe you need to face the facts and acknowledge that maybe you just don’t like beer. If you have to turn your cup of coffee into some bastardized version of hot chocolate, guess what? You don’t like coffee. Drop the charade; bend over and give Starbucks your $7 for that large I-can’t-handle-coffee-as-it-was-meant-to-be-enjoyed non-fat soy latte with two, not one, two shots of cinnamon syrup.

Again, I’m not against the variety being presented to the consumer. I just wish the posers would own up to their shortfalls and actually admit they don’t like something. There ain’t no shame in saying you prefer hot chocolate over black coffee, just be willing to admit it instead of dumping shit into your cup until you have some sort of Frankensteinian beverage that needs only one more addition and chemical reaction before it becomes a sentient being. Come on, Posers, don’t make society suffer the evil antics of Coffee Beings just because you don’t have the balls to tell people you prefer hot chocolate. It is exactly that type of behavior that leads companies to believe they need to cater to your panty-waist ass and create some new devilry, such as Jack Daniels Honey.

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