For a country that takes pride in its revolutionary origins and spirit of independence, the US seems like a nation of conformists when it comes to perfecting just the right consumer lifestyles. Brands are an essential element in the consumer experience, and performing successfully in the theatre of capitalism often requires learned behaviour, as dictated by brand advertising and other psychological triggers.
Take coffee, for example. Here is an enlightening video about the way Starbucks practices social engineering to make customers use Starbuckspeak when ordering their drinks – both the drink’s name and cup size. It always amused me that “Small” is no longer “small,” but “Tall.” It’s not up there with 1984’s four government ministries, whose titles express the exact opposite of their functions, but it is a linguistic deception.
I’m proud to say that, as a bit of a Bolshie, I steadfastly refused to comply. Right to the end it was always “Earl Grey, two tea bags in the biggest cup.” In the interests of not being seen as a glutton, I should point out that this was before the advent of the Trenta, a staggering 916 ml and larger than the average stomach capacity of a human. After a while, I had the baristas properly trained.