A German frozen food company hopes to raise sales with a new product: Obama fingers. The tender, fried chicken bits come with a tasty curry sauce. The company says it was unaware of the possible racist overtones of the product.
Selling products has, of course, become a bit more difficult than usual these days. No wonder then that companies everywhere are turning to optimistic marketing messages in an effort to counteract the steady drum beat of negativity coming from front page headlines around the globe.
Many sales executives have drawn the same conclusion: What better poster child for hope than US President Barack Obama? There are Obama dolls, Obama T-shirts, Obama soap-on-a-rope. There is even Obama thong underwear on offer.
Not wanting to miss the boat, a German food company has now gotten into the act. Sprehe, a company that has all manner of frozen delicacies on offer, has come up with a new product it calls “Obama Fingers.” Far from being real digits, though, the “fingers” in question are “tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried,” as the product packaging claims.
Fried chicken, in other words. With a curry dip.“We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment,” Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel.”
The idea, she claimed, was to get in on the Obama-mania which is continuing to grip Germany. The word “fingers” in the name refers to the fact that it is a finger food. “It’s like hotdogs,” Witting said. “No one would ever think they are actually from dogs.”
For Americans in Germany, though, there is a risk that the product might be seen as racially insensitive. Fried chicken has long been associated with African-Americans in the US — naming strips of fried chicken after the first black president could cause some furrowing of brows.
Witting told SPIEGEL ONLINE the connection never even occurred to her. “It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president,” she said.