Sunday, August 3, 2008

Applebee's, Meat, and the Dearborn Independent

Today D. and I went to the local Applebee's for a quick bite after doing some shopping at Target. We don't eat there often, but it was close by and we figured it would be fast and easy, and it was.

While we were waiting for the check, I idly surveyed the sports memorabilia decor. Jets jerseys sharing a wall with Giants jerseys, an assortment of hockey team photos, and along one wall, a number of humorous golf-related signs.

And then my eyes fell on something unusual on the wall of golf items. For there, between the sign indicating that hitting your caddies with a five iron is more effective than with a driver (or something like that, it seemed very violent either way) and something else about golf being outlawed in fifteenth-century England, there was a little framed magazine cover showing a man in classic golf pose, having just driven the ball 200 yards and looking very satisfied.

It was a cover from the Dearborn Independent.

Had I been in this Applebee's a year ago, I might not have even made any association, although the name was certainly familiar. However, over the last couple of months D. and I have been watching The Jewish Americans, a great documentary that aired in three 140-minute segments on PBS. It's really good so far, although I haven't yet wanted to watch the next segment. Learning about Jews in the Old West is one thing, but we're just about up to World War II and that's a little harder.

In the meantime, though, we have learned a lot about Henry Ford and the newspaper he purchased that published some genuinely bonkers anti-Semitism. Among other things, it ran the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Dearborn Independent was founded in 1901 and purchased by Henry Ford in 1919; it didn't publish again after 1927, after lawsuits about above-mentioned bonkers anti-Semitism forced him to shut it down. The cover in the restaurant was dated 1926, putting it squarely within his era.

I'm not calling for some kind of mass action against Applebee's; restaurant chains have enough going on right now with the economy doing what it's doing. But it did get me thinking. I had actually been planning to email the company anyway; the menu is dreadfully dead-animal centric, although, as our waitress helpfully pointed out since it wasn't on the menu, they do serve vegan burgers. I think I will mention the magazine cover in my email as well. I know that their intention was not to offend; I'm sure it's only up on the wall because it fit the golf theme of that section. But I do think it's worth reconsidering whether it should be up there at all.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Josh Tauberer said...

I wouldn't fault a restaurant for its menu (no sympathy on that point), but to the extent they're not aware of the history of that magazine, they might actually appreciate being told.