Asian Cuisine?

This caught my eye when we were shopping a Target a few months ago. Hamburger Helper, branching out with their flavor options, now offers Asian Helper.

We all know that Hamburger Helper, in any form, offers about as much nutritional value as the contents of a garbage can, so there’s no need to beat a dead horse and carry on about the nutritional facts. My beef isn’t with the contents of the box, it’s the NAME of the product that bothers me so.

Asian Helper. What does that mean? Asian. From Asia? Asia is huge. Off the top of my head, I can’t list every country and sovereign nation located on the CONTINENT of Asia, but I know that there are enough to make this product name seem, when you actually think about it, ridiculous. Here’s a demonstrative list (courtesy of Wikipedia):

AbkhaziaAfghanistanArmeniaBahrainBangladeshBhutanBrunei,

CambodiaChinaIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIsraelJapanJordan

KazakhstanKorea, NorthKorea, SouthKuwaitKyrgyzstanLaosLebanon

MalaysiaMaldivesMongoliaMyanmar (Burma), NepalOmanPakistan

Palestinian territoriesPhilippinesQatarSaudi ArabiaSingapore

South OssetiaSri LankaSyriaTajikistanThailandTurkmenistan

United Arab EmiratesUzbekistanVietnamYemen

I’ve eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant and the food was nothing like the food I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant. I don’t know what cuisine in Kuwait is like, but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not going to look like the picture on this Asian Helper box.

Asia is the largest and most populated continent, containing about 60% of the world’s population. And yet, here in ‘merica, the word Asian becomes little more than a buzz word used to excite consumers and evoke the memory of their last visit to the Chinese buffet when a delicious plate of fried rice and glazed orange chicken put them into a food stupor. Yes, this box of Asian Helper will satisfy that itch for real, quality, Asian cuisine.

Not only is this highly offensive, it just doesn’t make sense.

And it’s not just the Hamburger Helper. Have you ever shopped in the Asian section of your grocery store? One would hope that it’s the largest section in the store if it offers the myriad and diverse flavors of the world’s largest continent. Have you ever browsed a menu and thought that the Asian Chicken Salad sounded delightful? It must be a pretty versatile salad to include the influence of over 50 countries. Wendy’s advertised an Oriental Chicken Salad for a while. Now they have the Mandarin Chicken Salad instead, probably because the word oriental is, in this instance,  just as offensive and vague as the word Asian.

It all comes down to marketing. The vast gelatinous blob that is the mindless consumer won’t trust Chinese Helper, Singapore Helper, or Vietnamese Helper. It’s chicken and fried rice so they call it Asian Helper and it’s a hit. As a consumer, I’m insulted and annoyed every time I see something marketed to me as Asian. I am an intelligent person and I refuse to pack my brain in my purse every time I go to the store. If something is offensive, I will not support it. If something contains harmful ingredients, I will not consume it. Period.

The world we live in today is run by corporations, as a consumer I refuse to cry about it and wish things were different. Instead, I recognize that as a consumer, I have all the power. I cast my vote with every dollar I spend. I vote every day for the changes that I want to see. Pay attention to the things around you, and vote wisely.

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