Accepted Paper:

Americanization and its discontents. the case of Czech Budweiser  


Milena Veenis (Technical University Eindhoven)

Paper short abstract:

Since the end of the eighteenth century, an American and a Czech brewer have been struggling over the right to call their beers Budweiser. The Czech party defends its economic interests by highlighting the ‘authenticity’ of its product, thus capitalizing existing fears about the increasing Americanization of European societies.

Paper long abstract:

Whereas Budweiser is generally recognized as one of America's main consumptive icons, the European Union has recently recognized the beer as an authentic Czech product. The Czech brewer, Budejovicky Budvar obtained the highly valued PDO-assessment (Protected Designation of Origin), in order to protect the beer from 'fakes'. As far as Budejovicky Budvar is concerned, the American Budweiser beer (made by US brewer Anheuser-Busch) is such a fake. Czech connoisseurs confirm this: the American beer tastes like cat piss and it cannot stand comparison with Czech Budweiser. The Czech brewer feeds this image by referring to Budweiser's centuries-old production process and the high quality of its local ingredients.

The question on what grounds the Czech beer can be registered as 'truly Czech' seems not only to be a matter of taste, however, but also of the politics of authentication. Unquestionably motivated by economic interests, these politics also express fears for what many inhabitants of European countries perceive as the increasing American influence on their food-palettes and ways of life. Although the so-called 'McDonaldisation' of societies gives rise to countermovements in both the USA and Europe, the European variants thereof are habitually framed in opposition to what is perceived as the ongoing Americanization of Europe. This presentation analyses United States influence on European consumption patterns, by focussing on specific forms of people's quests for (culinary) authenticity.

Panel W120
'America' abroad: the good, the bad and the ugly (MAC workshop II)