Discrimination is still alive and well in Dublin. I am not talking about the sort of blatant racial discrimination that has blighted the city for years. I am talking about a more subtle form of discrimination that seems to be largely aimed at our european neighbours. A discrimination that involves condiments rather than snide comments, yet in the frame of mind I was in yesterday, equally detestable.
Yesterday I found myself in Dublin City Center with a few hours to kill. My eldest daughter and I had arrived at Busaras just in time to see her bus leave the station and had to wait for two hours until the next one. I did wonder just when Bus Eireann busses started departing dead on time. It was a new experience for me.
We had not been in the city center in the run up to Christmas so it seemed like a good opportunity to wander down Henry street and take in the lights and the frenzied atmosphere of the Christmas sales. We admired the lights and shivered in the cold for a while and then decided that food would be a good idea.
Lamenting the lack of stalls selling bratwursts and gluwein (not surprising since it was Dublin and not Dusseldorf, and also post rather than pre Christmas) we turned into the Jervis center and headed for that most elegant of eateries, Burger King. I should point out that my daughter is 17 and has not yet acquired a palate that recognises fast food as somewhat inferior to other foods. In fact, she was delighted that we were there. For me, it was the first time in quite a few years.
We ordered our Chicken Royale’s and milk shakes and the girl serving us put some ketchup sachets on the tray. Not just one or two ketchup sachets, but a whole handful. I’m not a fan of ketchup, preferring, like our European neighbours to dip my chips in mayonnaise. I asked if they had any mayonnaise sachets and was politely told that they did and that …… THEY WERE 25 cents EACH!!
At that rate it would have cost me an extra €1.75 to have the same number of mayonnaise sachets as the ketchup sachets that had been liberally dumped on our tray.
I’m not generally tight, but this seemed unfair and I declined the mayonnaise and the girl behind the till declined to buy back some of our ketchup at 25 cents a pop too, which seemed significant to me at the time.
Is it that 25 cents for a sachet of any sauce is too much to charge? Or is it perhaps that ketchup is less valuable than mayonnaise? Are the production costs massively different? I decided to do a little calculation:
A 342g squeezy bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup costs €1.89 in Tescos. A 750ml squeezy bottle of Helmans mayonnaise costs €3.99. If we assume that a ml weighs a gram then the cost of 342 grams of mayonnaise would be just €1.82. Even if the weight/volume is a bit out it seems that mayonnaise and ketchup prices are comparable.
In my book that means that Burger King are discriminating against those that prefer mayonnaise to ketchup. They are discriminating against the French, discriminating against the Belgians, discriminating against most of our european counterparts in fact. The UK and Irish preference is for tomato ketchup, but that is about it on our continent.
Do Burger King have a reverse policy in place in France? If I go to a Burger King premises in Paris will I be charged 25 cents for ketchup and get all the mayonnaise I want for nothing? Would a UK or Irish preference for ketchup have an associated cost there? Would the staff member in Paris say, “Ah monsieur, you are clearly foreign, you must pay more!”