kunc-header-1440x90.png
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and competition for resources has widespread ramifications. We all eat, so we all have a stake in how our food is produced. Our goal is to provide in-depth and unbiased reporting on things like climate change, food safety, biofuel production, animal welfare, water quality and sustainability.

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 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Maria Godoy is a senior science and health editor and correspondent with NPR News. Her reporting can be heard across NPR's news shows and podcasts. She is also one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.
Related Content
  • It doesn't take much effort to find bags of coffee with labels that promise social and environmental improvements. But each one of these certification programs promises something different for the farmer and the land — and every promise involves some compromises.
  • Pizza Hut's latest offering, available only in the Middle East, is a cheeseburger-pizza hybrid. The combination either makes foodies' stomachs turn - or growl. But from a global perspective, it's not that different from how ethnic cuisines are marketed in the U.S.
  • Yes, the Web is littered with the corpses of failed online grocers. But AmazonFresh doesn't have to be a cash cow for the retail giant, because Amazon can also drop off books with your bananas. And for consumers, it could mean convenience, no minimum fees, pre-dawn drop-off and maybe even delivery of local, artisanal goods.
  • Scott Finn of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Fla., wonders why some media reports paint his city — host of the Republican National Convention — as "a disaster" and the "strip club capital of the world." He says Tampa looks as much like America as anywhere else and that bashers should back off.