Momotaro and the Steel City

19 Oct

By virtue of its necessity, simple food can be a powerful tool for manipulation; a hungry man is a weak man. Even more powerful, however, is food so seductive or somehow desirable that it can be used to manipulate even a sated man. In “Momotaro’s Sea Eagle,” we saw the use of culinary images like the peach and millet dumplings from the iconic Momotaro story in such a propagandistic sense. The film’s army of peppy critters joyfully munched on these snacks, evocative of the shared history of the Momotaro tale, while they determinedly destroyed the obviously Hawaiian naval base of the “Red Demons.”

While not quite a conflict on the scale of World War II, the struggle through the Football season in the greater Pittsburgh area in Pennsylvania is an intense one for Steelers fans. TV spots air, players appear on local news for interviews, and the wearing of jerseys increases exponentially. One bizarre practice of the community is the production by local snack makers of Steelers themed chips. I don’t know if this is a unique practice, but I’ve always thought it strange, browsing the grocery store isles to find black and yellow tortilla chips with the usual Tostitos. These bags will occasionally sport pictures of players in dramatic or triumphant poses, with a one sided message for Steeler Country.

These sexy chips function essentially like the snacks of the Momotaro film- representing themselves as the snack of a shared culture and the starting point for a Go-Team patriotism. They go well with salsa too.

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