Two hundred years went by, and nothing really changed. No one listened to poor Ludwig Van Stug and very little happened to contradict the frog’s idea that the little white ones could not be trusted in anything they said.
Sometimes among them, for example, even a cheesecake is not a cheesecake.
At the factory that cheesecakes come from a cheesecake is officially known as chemically collated, crumb coated, cake confection 6 (version 4). Most of the time, they shorten this to C-6 v4. Over at marketing they prefer the title Grandfather Watson's Country Cooked Bavarian Cheese.
There really was a Grandfather Watson once. For most of the fifties he could be found somewhere out in the wide open spaces of rural Oklahoma where he roamed more or less freely in an ancient Model T Ford, selling bags of easy to bake ready made pie mixture to out of the way truck stops.
The unbelievable commercial success of Grandfather Watson's business struck suddenly, and while not actually against his will, it came with practically no effort on his part. People tended to see him as some kind of great American success story, but really he was just a former shoe salesman who mostly wanted to be left alone.
One day (or so it seemed to him) he was out in an Alabama back swamp cutting a deal with the proprietor of a run down general store who wanted to churn up his own pie mixture and sell it using the Grandfather Watson label. The next he was the universally recognized figure-head of a global corporation, his badly drawn likeliness pasted on frozen boxes of microwavable snack treats wherever there was refrigeration.
Except for at the very start Grandfather Watson had very little to do with the running of his company, and by the mid 60s had been quietly pensioned off to Florida where he spent his time playing golf and complaining that Grandfathers Watson’s cheesecakes just weren’t what they used to be. He said that he never ate them as a matter of principle, but that if he did he was sure they would taste just like soggy newspaper.
Exactly how cut off Watson had become from the business of the company that bore his name can be shown by contrasting his feelings on this matter with what was being put out by the advertising people at that time. They insisted that Watson's cheesecakes were alone among the inhabitants of the frozen food department in being better than ever. Each one, it was implied, was lovingly handcrafted by qualified cheesecake masters- simple, honest folks from loyal company families that had been lovingly handcrafting cheesecakes since the jolly halcyon days of dear Grandfather Watson himself.
Of course the marketing people weren’t being completely honest either. When they said that the cheesecakes were lovingly handcrafted by jolly cheesecake masters, what they meant was that they were mass produced by malnourished wage slaves in the bowels of a sprawling industrial complex in Guatemala.
At about the same time as the world had developed a taste for Grandfather Watson’s frozen pies Guatemala, a small, steamy place in Central America, had come under the corpulent fist of a general who had himself declared president for life and absolutely insisted on being offically referred to as Big Papa.
Big Papa didn’t care so much for democracy but was down-right crazy about making the world safe for affordable frozen cheesecakes. Big Papa called Grandfather Watson’s cheesecake company a partner in prosperity, and was willing to do whatever it took to make his little country a good place for them to do business.
Prominently this meant giving his black shirted paramilitaries (The Freedom Fighters!) the run of the Watson’s factory. People who were unwise enough to make a fuss about wages and working conditions, how the noisy machinery and lack of ear protection was causing them to go deaf for example, were sometimes found floating face down in the river the next day. That sort of thing, coupled with jobs in Guatemala being scarce enough that people were still desperate to work there, really kept down the overheads.
When the freedom fighters were recruiting one of their selling points was that if you joined you got a really cool uniform. In exchange they were looking for hairy knuckled, team players with demonstrated experience in loitering and looking damn scary.
Knowledge of cheesecake manufacturing wasn’t required.
If knowledge of cheesecake manufacturing had have been required then very probably they wouldn’t have trussed up Carlos Sanchez and thrown him alive into the factory’s vast vat of boiling chocolate cheese mixture.
Carlos was suspected of having spoken to a journalist, and the Freedom Fighters felt that he needed to be made an example of.
This was no ordinary vat they threw him in. Big Papa himself had been photographed in front of it. It was the largest single vat of boiling chocolate cheese mixture in the free world, and he was very proud that it was there was in his little Guatemala.
It is scientifically proven that, eaten on a regular basis, Watson’s cheesecakes will cause people to be around 500% more likely to develop obesity, diabetes and colon cancer. And although none of these things posed any moral problem for the company (people, after all, made the choice to eat the stuff) even to them serving customers who thought they were getting a Country Cooked Bavarian Cheese the disintegrated remains of a heroic Guatemalan labor leader was a bit much.
The whole vat had to be drained and scrubbed out, the boiling chocolate cheese remixed, and tens of thousands of boxes of C-6 v4 dumped in the ocean. And this is why the whole first half of 1999 was a time when, right throughout the world, a Grandfather Watson’s Country Cooked Bavarian Cheese could not be bought for either love or money.
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