You want Freedom Fries with that?

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

You want Freedom Fries with that?

April 8, 2003


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As we all know, the French are none too popular in this country because of their opposition to Gulf War II. Consider the following. French's Mustard recently felt compelled to issue a press release titled: "The Only Thing French About French's Mustard Is The Name."

It turns out that French's was named after founder R.T. French and not after the people of France, as some customers had erroneously assumed. The press release starts casually, "Recently there have been some questions about the heritage of French's Mustard" and then launches into a brief history.

"By 1915 the French's pennant became the brand's official logo, symbolizing French's affiliation with baseball and American celebration," the press release continues. With all the patriotic references here, it's a wonder they haven't created a link yet between mustard and apple pie. As Alex Beam pointed out in the Boston Globe. French's isn't even American anymore. It's owned by a British conglomerate, but, hey, at least French's isn't French, though they do make French's Dijon Mustard which, if you ask me, sounds suspiciously French.

American sandwich shop Au Bon Pain, meanwhile, is now posting signs at its restaurants that say, "Celebrating 25 years as an American Company." (I guess they decided to pass on the slogan: "Selling fruity French pastry for a quarter century!") Texas legislators actually want to triple taxes on French wine. A restaurant owner in New Jersey even poured his stock of French Merlot down the toilet as a protest. And then there was the story last month of French online cheese seller (Mmmn, online cheese!) Marc Refabert whose cheese is being boycotted by several Americans. Refabert seemed particularly unconcerned, believing that his cheese is so good that customers won't be able to stay away. "Once you've tried the good things in life, it's hard to go back," he told Reuters.

I suppose all this is fitting considering that the French will do just about anything to avoid American products, but there has to be a better way. If we really want to hit them where it hurts, we should simply e-mail every French person and tell them how much we enjoyed our vacation to EuroDisney last summer. "Gosh, Paris was almost as much fun as Orlando," every e-mail should say, and the whole nation would no doubt explode from disgust.

Let's all go over there this summer wearing sneakers, loud clothes, cowboy hats, and attempt to talk "French" to everyone we meet. "Excuse me, garcon, Ou est la bathroom?" we can say loudly, and we should have them surrendering in no time.

By now, everyone knows about Congress' attempt to create Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast (That'll show them!), but now Florida Representative Ginny Brown-Waite has gone one step further. She has introduced legislation to help families who want to bring back the remains of U.S. veterans who are buried in France. That's even better. With our sneakers, shorts, and fanny packs, we can all go over there and dig up pretty cemeteries looking for human remains. See, we can eat all the French cheese we want and still annoy them.

It's not just the French either. Wired.com reports that CompAtlanta, a Georgia company that sells computer equipment on eBay, has refused to honor a winning bid on a laser printer, because the customer is Canadian. The company declined to ship the printer, even when the Canadian man asked that it be sent to an address in the United States. "At the present time," the owner wrote, "we do not ship to, or accept bids from, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany or any other country that does not support the United States in our efforts to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. If you are not with us, you are against us." Gee, I'd hate to have to call them for tech support.

Will any of these protests accomplish anything? It's doubtful, other than to make the protestors feel a little better. But now one April Fool's site has taken the protests to their logical extreme. Check out www.sendbackliberty.us, and you'll find a site dedicated to having the Statue of Liberty "shipped back to France as a symbol of our discontent and anger at the actions of the French." Sure, it's a silly idea, but it's no sillier than boycotting something as wholesome and All-American as French's Mustard. After all, nothing tastes better on a Frankfurter than French's.



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