The Oberto Sausage Company is running a new promotional campaign online for its beef jerky: Eat Like An Alpha. An alpha, in ethological terms, is supposed to be the top dog, sitting at the height of the social ladder. The idea of the campaign is that alphas eat beef jerky.
Now, I haven’t spent a lot of time with any real alphas – people like Barack Obama, for instance. I spend more time with iotas and omicrons. Still, I haven’t seen any evidence that alphas eat a lot of beef jerky.
You don’t hear about exclusive jerky clubs. There is no such magazine as Jerky Aficionado. Even under George W. Bush, there were no black tie jerky dinners at the White House.
Jerky, as I understand it, has historically been a food of working people, going back to the days when people needed to treat meats so that they could be eaten without refrigeration. These people couldn’t afford fresh meat, and they needed to eat as they worked. These people were not alphas. The alphas had private game reserves where they could hunt for fun, or more often, send servants out to hunt fresh meat for them.
It’s kind of weird that this working class food is trying to establish itself as a food of the elites – especially after all the anti-elitist ugliness of the 2008 election, during which we were told by the likes of Thomas Buffenbarger that you could tell whether people are politically trustworthy according to the kind of coffee they drink. Lattes were the drink of elitist devils.
The Oberto promotional strategy of telling people to eat like an alpha by eating beef jerky seems insane – if you assume that the people at the Oberto Sausage Company really believe that beef jerky is the food of the upper crust. I think Oberto realizes that’s not how things are, but they also realize that people near the bottom of the social ladder love to think of themselves as top dogs. Even Psis with their minimum wage jobs puff out their chests and take pride in tiny marks of social status within their little realms – marks like being the one to hold the remote control. These are the working poor who grew terrified that Barack Obama might redistribute their wealth.
Is even this level of elitism wise during these times of economic hardship? When General Motors is firing all but 22 of its workers, in preparation for being bought out by Jiffy Lube, does it make sense to try to cast beef jerky as the food of the upper crust? Maybe there can be some consolation for people down on their luck in believing that a non-perishable steak substitute will give them an air of distinction.