My dad cut good fries, or as we called them in our house, chips. But call them what you will; chips, hot chips, finger chips, fries, steak fries, wedges, potato wedges, or frites, you know I’m talking about the humble elongated pieces of fried potatoes (yes, that’s an actual description given to this side dish). Yes he did. He made a great hot chip. My dad would wash and peel the potatoes and then chop them to his desired thickness and then they’d go in the basket of our deep-fryer and he’d make a batch of hot chips ready to be served with dinner.
Both my parents worked full time jobs but seeing my mum was in retail and seeing that retail stores closed at 5:30pm rather than other places of employment which tended to finish up at 5:00pm – remember those days? – and further, seeing that my mother never drove, rather she caught public transport everywhere, my dad was generally home before my mum of an evening so it made sense that he cooked dinner.
When I moved out of home and moved in with my first wife I found myself in the same boat. The company I was working for at the time expected the sales office to be covered from 8:00am until 5:00pm and seeing that normal working hours called for a traditional nine-to-five scenario, my counterpart and I did a rotational shift of 8:00am to 4:00pm one wee and 9:00am to 5:00pm the following. When it was my turn to leave the office at 4:00pm I would get home in about 30 minutes. When I did the other shift it was 45 minutes to an hour driving in the peak hour traffic. Still, I couldn’t complain as my ex-wife had to leave home at 7:30am and was back home at 6:30pm on average. So seeing that I was home anywhere from 4:30pm at the earliest or 6:00pm at the latest, the role of household chef became mine.
Even now that I’m remarried and have a wife who works only two to three days per week, we are fortunate that having me work from home I have been able to take on the role of household chef still. And even though making dinner every single night can be a (often) thankless and laborious task, knowing that I am providing my family with a healthy meal made always with my secret ingredient (love of course), it is a pleasure to cook for them even if the toddler rejects 50% of what is put in front of him.
Recently I was asked on a weeknight to look after our friends’ boys. It was on a Thursday night – late night shopping night in New South Wales – and on the day that our eldest attended preschool just around the corner, whilst our youngest attends Family Day Care a short drive away near where we used to live. It’s a trek to get there, but we love the carer so we don’t mind the effort of driving there. But seeing I was faced with the task of picking up the kids a little bit early that day, picking up food to cook that all four boys would enjoy, and being home in time for our friends to drop off their sons, I had decided to do something a little quick and easy.
It is not often we have oven fries these days. We used to have a couple of 1kg bags in the freezer as a quick alternative to making mashed potatoes or some other side along those lines, but now that we are eating less and less processed foods in our house, we don’t even have an emergency stock in the freezer. Well, not that often. Besides, I cut a good chip or wedge if I do say so myself.
But on this Thursday night I decided to grab some fresh crumbed chicken tenderloins from the delicatessen and a bag of oven fries as a side dish. I planned to top this off with cucumber slices (our eldest son’s favourite), some carrot sticks, and some steamed peas and corn.
So it was down to the frozen section that I went with the boys in tow when I stumbled upon a product that shocked me. McCain SuperFries Mum’s Cut is the name of this product. “Mum’s Cut?” No, I’m seeing things. Really? Mum’s Cut? I was taken aback. I wanted to pull out every last bag of these and throw them on the floor to cause a commotion only to have the store manager ask me if everything was okay. I rally wanted to say “I’m just going through these trying to find the ‘Dad’s Cut’ fries. You know, like the ones my dads used to make?” But I didn’t.
Instead I sent myself an email to remind me to look into this further. Later that evening once the boys were asleep and our friends had picked up their boys I jumped on the computer and visited McCain’s website. Yep, there they were. The product was listed on their website and I knew I had to contact them about this rampant sexism displayed on the packet. The following day I sent them this message via their contact page;
I was shopping at my local Coles yesterday and noticed your product http://mccain.com.au/products_everythingpotato_mccain-superfries_superfries-mums-cut-1kg_128.aspx As the main provider and the one who prepares dinner each night to my family, I am perplexed as to why you would have a Mum’s Cut range but omit a Dad’s Cut range. Having a father who was also the sole food shopper and who prepared dinner most nights for our family, and who made and extraordinary chip himself, it beggars belief that McCain would produce a product with an obvious sexist name. Surely this is an oversight on your marketing department.
This is the response I received from them via email;
Thank you for your email. I will forward it onto our Marketing department for review.
After 19 days of not hearing anything, I followed up on the reply email they sent me. The customer service personnel informed me that the marketing department were on holidays and that they would get back to me as soon as possible. After a few more days, I chased it up again and this is the reply I received from their Customer Service Co-Ordinator;
We are very sorry to hear that you find the label ‘Mums Cut’ to be sexist in nature. At no time does our company intend to upset its consumers by portraying a sexist image. To date, we have had no other queries of this nature regarding this fry. Via our consumer service providers, we will endeavor to determine if your concerns are also shared by other consumers.
So one little voice didn’t get through to them. David did not get through to Goliath on this occasion. My concerns have basically been swept under the carpet. Well, that is unless there are others who share in my belief that this product is “sexist in nature.”
Chris Routly from The Daddy Doctrines is a campaigner for equality for dads in advertising in the United States and he has addressed this topic (one again) in this piece he wrote in the last few days about those Proctor & Gamble adverts that praise mothers whilst totally forgetting about the roles fathers play in their children’s lives. You can read his post here.
Is it really too much to ask for dads to be included in marketing? We want, nay, expect men to step up and be active fathers, pulling more than their fair share of chores that back in the day were the domain of the stay-at-home-mum exclusively. And so with these expectations that modern mothers are putting onto modern fathers, surely advertisers and marketing departments can see that you simply cannot shut out men when they realise a product or campaign to the marketplace.
So, am I asking too much? Am I expecting too much? Am I overreacting or do you agree with me on this? And if you agree with me, would you be willing to let McCain know?