Devil’s Advocate is a regular column assuming an alternate viewpoint on a topical subject of the week.
If everything goes as those at the helm of AG Barr intend, teary-eyed obituaries will soon be written for the formerly Scottish manufacturer as it merges with Britvic.
Sure, its most famous product Irn-Bru will remain, but can we so readily claim it as the country’s own when the fizzy ginger drink is ultimately owned by a British company?
Meanwhile, owners of the Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven, the “creators” of the deep-fried Mars bar – as though shoving chocolate confectionary into a deep-fryer confers upon you the status of a grand originator – also found themselves under threat this week.
They were reportedly threatened by Mars lawyers unhappy that their “healthy image” – hold your sides – was being undermined. (Healthy image? If prodded to think of Mars bars combined with any sort of sporting activity, the first thing that comes to mind is James Corden trying to eat a entire six-pack in one go while a topless Johnny Vegas claps him along, both doing a celebratory truffle shuffle afterwards.)
Yes, Scotland’s culinary reputation has been under attack, but it's not been through these recent developments – which might actually rescue us from our current state.
The rot has been in place for far, far longer. However, finally we might stand a small chance of reclaiming a shred of dignity, and in doing so begin to rid ourselves of the appalling image that has been created for us.
It’s a pretty amazing trick that was pulled on us at a certain point. It might be before our time, but I'm aware that there was a period before now where we didn’t celebrate swimming in an ocean of sugar and saturated fats as though it’s our natural habitat. (If you haven't seen it, check out the thrilling documentary Braveheart for a spot-on reminder of how things used to be.)
It’s not as though bingeing on complete rubbish is limited to Scotland – but somehow we’ve become better known for it than anyone, Carron Fish Bar apparently selling many of its supposed delicacies to foreigners who have travelled specifically, thanks to the reputation of the deep-fried Mars bar which has made headlines around the world.
Somewhere along the way the traditional image of a Scotsman changed from that on the front of a Scott's Porage Oats box to that of a Rab C. Nesbitt-type whose teeth have become blackened stumps – and we seem to have greeted the whole thing with an ironic delight.
Part of it can be attributed to rebelliousness against being too “right-on” – certainly that’s the sort of thing Irn-Bru have capitalised on. Why, let’s produce some self-conscious edgy adverts so you can forget about the harm that our products cause to the health of our nation’s health! Because as long as we can all have a good laugh about it in the end, it doesn’t seem to matter what damage is caused, and who suffers.
We (ought to) live in more educated and sensible times, where we don’t place children at risk through unhealthy diets. If nothing else, the Olympics showed us that there are far better things to aspire towards – and now we’ve a couple of years to shape up until the Commonwealth Games hit Glasgow. Even if we don't win any medals, we can at least make it look as though we haven't already eaten all the Ferrero Rochers that were ordered for the swanky after-parties.
So rather than any mourning, let’s help shoo these hideous dietary abominations from Scotland. In doing so we might remember when we were a nation of actual doers, rather than a gaggle of depressed slackers of various levels of obesity sardonically commentating on world affairs from the sofa, as though a level of awareness somehow helps us rise above others – instead of simply breaking the scales when we’re weighed side by side with our peers from other countries.
More About Devil's Advocate
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- We need to raise our nation’s children to be liars and cheats
- Why it’s great that governments are spying on us
- Why the Scottish-influenced Game of Thrones deserves to be spoiled
- Frankie Boyle is making jokes about the Paralympics – so what?
- Let's pray for Olympic cock-ups rather than sporting glories
- Bob Diamond deserves his £22m payoff
- My challenge to Jimmy Carr: keep avoiding tax (to shine a light on tax-avoiding scumbags)