Suddenly it seems everything is artisanal these days. Artisanal beer, biscuits, T-shirts, restaurants . . . the list of products and services touted as “hand crafted” or “artisanal” is almost endless. Rumors still unconfirmed (and which will certainly remain that way) have it that a bordello in Reno is going artisanal, presumably differing in some way from the old-fashioned whorehouse.
Clearly, the Business School marketeers have determined that the rubes can be parted from more of their hard-earned cash more readily if they can be persuaded that what they are buying is individually hand-made. Even faster, if they think the purchase enhances their status as sophisticates who only buy the very rare and the very best, whose tastes are far superior to those of the riffraff hordes jamming Black Friday sales at Walmart, stabbing each other over a 55” Hi-Def TV.
Thus, “artisanal.” Entrepreneurs breathlessly churn out artisanal chocolate, tableware, underwear, salads and, of course, beer and wine. Barrels of hand-crafted artisanal beer and wine. Tank-truckloads of hand-crafted artisanal beer and wine.
Apparently it is perfectly lawful to advertise that container ships full of beer and wine produced in refinery-sized facilities are artisanal and hand-crafted provided: A finger on a human hand pressed the button that started the conveyor that sent bottles through a machine at 400 per minute to be filled from 2,000 gallon vats of booze whose flavor was carefully determined by a computer-regulated process that added and/or subtracted various additives and/or subtractives according to a formula generated by another computer in a highly automated building whose restrooms are certified as hand-cleaned by a janitor using a mop, bucket and artisanal urinal cookies.
Some actual examples might better illustrate “artisanal.”
Example #1 — Scharffen Berger Artisan Chocolate started in a small artisanal factory in Berkeley. A few years back, it was bought by the Hershey Corporation which laid off the 150 artisanal Berkeley workers and moved production to a bigger artisanal factory in Illinois. NOTE: The artisanal Hershey Corp. is owned by the artisanal Mars Corp., the third largest private U.S. company (behind the artisanal Cargill and artisanal Koch Industries), with some $33 billion in global revenue. And if you believe it is grammatically incorrect to use “artisanal” and “factory” in the same sentence, you have never studied Marketing.
Example #2: Hershey also recently acquired Krave Artisanal jerky, a Sonoma start-up started up by famously well-regarded Sonoma people. Krave website marketeese describes Krave artisanal jerky as “a small batch extension with uniquely crafted profiles and proteins sourced from GAP 5-Step rated farms, created in partnership with Whole Foods Markets.”
Translation: High-volume nutritionally-enhanced snack food meat made from animals humanely executed, their flesh industrially rendered, sliced, dried, flavored, packaged and sold in retail outlets of a worldwide food marketing corporation headquartered in Texas. (Variety pack of nine available on Amazon, $52.95 + shipping.)
It doesn’t get more artisanal than that. Coming soon: Hand-crafted artisanal cruise missiles accessorized with painstakingly selected seasonal warheads artfully assembled according to instructions translated from the original German.