I read about a recent police outrage. Some Philadelphia cops decorated a Christmas tree with objects that are apparently commonly found in their patrol areas and crime scenes; among the items dangling from the tree were packs of Newport cigarettes, malt liquor cans, "Police Line" tape, and other such things. Pretty typical shell-shocked cop humor that evidently is about to get them fired. You’d think they would know better by now.
I started thinking about when I worked in retail. It was in the warehouse at a large convenience store in Germany that was part of the PX system that caters primarily to military personnel. As part of the initial drawdown in the early 1990’s, they folded the so-called Class 6 Package Store (which sold booze) into ours; I was put in charge of it, and after speed-reading a three-inch-thick book on the subject, I became an expert on potent potables in short order.
Over the span of several months, I noticed distinct consumption patterns among the customers that can only be described as fulfilling stereotypes. E&J brandy, Seagram’s Extra Dry gin, and Hennessy cognac were bought almost exclusively by Blacks. Whenever they bought sparkling or non-sparkling wine, it was always the sweet ones. “Is this shit sweet?” was a common question. The same thing with menthol cigarettes; Blacks smoked only Kools and Newports. We also never seemed to have enough ribs and chicken. The lack of items like Old English 800 occasionally elicited profane commentaries from disappointed darkies.
The beer purchases seemed to be more evenly distributed. You’d think that being in Germany, the beer capital of the world, any other beer wouldn’t be seen, but we also stocked Budweiser and Michelob for redneck and soul brotha alike, and others with stunted tastes. I flipped my wig when we got a large shipment of Corona, which is the piss-water Mexican equivalent of Budweiser; not surprisingly, the Hispanics and some Gringos were delighted until they saw the price.
The Whites were by far the most cosmopolitan in their tastes, and guzzled just about everything we offered. In contrast to the Blacks, the Whites preferred drier wines to sweet ones. The officer class (and their wives) was often interested in the more expensive wines; usually being more knowledgeable about them than the others, they knew they were getting a good deal compared to what they would pay in the States, so they often bought them by the case.
The lower-ranking enlisted Whites also fulfilled their stereotypes pretty well. Marlboro Reds, Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam whiskies, and Fuzzy Navels were the most popular smokes and drinks with them by far, but they weren’t slouches consuming others, like vodka and ouzo. Once in a while, some White dude would complain that we didn’t have a certain German beer from some obscure small-town brewery. One of the more persistent White whiners was successful in us getting a shipment of the original Czech and ridiculously overpriced Budweiser. That’s another thing I noticed; Blacks verbally abused employees and shoplifted more than all others combined. The Whites tended to be whinier, and went straight to the boss to squeal on you if you displeased them somehow, especially the wives of officers.
So, it would appear that the sales and marketing people know what they’re doing. It is glaringly obvious that different groups of people tend to have an affinity for or abhor certain things for whatever reason, yet I’m sure there are many out there who would call me a racist for writing this. Those same people often conflate totally objective, disinterested, and dispassionate observations with some kind of “ism”. I’m going to have to study the whole marketing world a little closer.