Friday, January 16, 2004

Forget weapons of mass destruction. There's a bigger war brewing here and abroad. Evidently, it's been going on for quite sometime. It's not exactly the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s, but if you were to quiz my boyfriend, he'd have plenty to say on the matter.

It's Budweiser vs. Budweiser. Or, more specifically, it's The Czech Budejovicky Budvar vs. The American Anheuser-Busch Budweiser. For those of you playing at home, you had better get out your score pad, because this one gets messy.

Long, long ago in a brewery far, far away, there was beer. There was Czech beer claiming a legacy going on beyond zebra and then some. The heritage was something like: Czech Beer - Dinosaurs - Cleopatra – Frodo - Beowulf - Ivan Lendl - Czech Beer. That's a fur-piece of time travel, which would make anyone justifiably thirsty. Now, hop, skip and jump several hundred years to upstart America. After insulting George (isn't it funny how the more things change the more they stay the same?), dumping tea, and winning a little skirmish known as the Revolution, they decided to kick back and enjoy a cold one.

Two countries. A whole lot of thirsty people. One Budweiser name, and one long battle over who gets to use it.

In 1939 both sides reluctantly declared sharesies. Like children drawing a line down the center of a room, Anheuser-Busch said, “we'll take this side, you stay over there.” All was fine and good, at least for a while.

But siblings grow up. They get bigger, louder and needier. They need more space. They need more attention. More, more, more. Mine, mine, mine. "Get off my side... I'm telling on you... You're not the boss of me... Mom!!!!

And tell they did. To every judge in every court in every country they could think of. Anheuser-Busch just lost their bid in South Korea, but has won in Sweden. They lost in Lithuania, but won in Nigeria. The list goes on and on like a game of geographical hopscotch. Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium. Skip the waffles -- pass the beer.

Despite the admission that any scenario involving me drinking an American Budweiser would also include either Hell and glaciers or The Gobi Desert and several hundred circling vultures -- I'm not here to pick sides. I'm here to point out the stupidity of the argument. Or at least, the argument Anheuser-Busch would have you believe.

They think the beer-drinking public is going to get confused.

Laying aside for a moment the obvious argument that drinking beer is supposed to create confusion and impaired judgment, I’d still like to see Mr. Corporate Lawyer put some faith in the little people out there. I handled the renaming of cable channel TNN to "Spike TV" with a minimum of hysteria. Not once did I confuse "Spike TV" with "Spike Lee" (although looking at some of the programming, a little more Spike Lee wouldn't hurt). I grasp the difference between "Champagne and "Sparkling Wine". I'm even fairly confident that Mad Dog 20/20 is not made from or for angry canines with perfect vision. Should Budvar and Budweiser both come to call, I think I can manage with a minimum of confusion.

I'll just ask for a Heineken.
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