Drink-o de Mayo?
May 5, 2006 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Is Cinco De Mayo For Sale By the Alcohol Industry? In the 1960s, Chicano activists in Colorado promoted a boycott of Coors beer in response to employment discrimination against Latinos at Coors breweries. Coors had two problems. They had to fix their image with Latino consumers, and they had to figure out some way to get college students to drink more beer in May. The solution: start sponsoring Cinco de Mayo! Thus, even though Mexicans in Mexico celebrate their independence day on September 15th and 16th, Mexican-Americans are more likely to celebrate the May 5th anniversary of the Battle of the Puebla, which is not even commemorated with a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, the Battle of the Puebla was a skirmish in the Pastry War, a French intervention in Mexico that began because a French chef demanded several thousand pesos to compensate him for Mexican military officers looting his pastry supply.
posted by jonp72 (44 comments total)

 
Good post. Nice information.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:39 AM on May 5, 2006


I always knew cinco de mayo was kind of a manufactured holiday but a pastry war?!
posted by mathowie at 7:40 AM on May 5, 2006


At least the alcohol industry hasn't gone after St. Patrick's Day. Or Halloween. Or Mardi Gras. Then again, they've always had New Year' Eve.
posted by TedW at 7:42 AM on May 5, 2006


Yes, that damn alcohol industry. Forcing margaritas down our resisting gullets.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:50 AM on May 5, 2006


There are so many reasons not to drink Coors beer.
Where to start? Wehre to start?

The Coors family are evil. How about that for a starter?
Coors beer really, really tastes terrible. Better?

Next!
posted by nofundy at 7:53 AM on May 5, 2006


I don't drink Coors beer because I can't understand what they are saying in their advertising jingle at the end of all the Silver Bullet commercials.

Plus Coors Light tastes bad.
posted by wabashbdw at 7:58 AM on May 5, 2006


I don't see how a battle that took place in 1862 is part of a skirmish in a war that ended in 1839. You're conflating two different French invasions of Mexico.
posted by goatdog at 8:05 AM on May 5, 2006


Fortunately, my tequila purchases don't give any profit to Coors. Please don't tell me that they're tied to Corona or Dos Equis, though.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:09 AM on May 5, 2006


All I know is Federal Blvd is going to be a nightmare on the way home.
posted by boo_radley at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2006


My mother sent me this:

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico (who were crazy about mayonnaise) and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known as "Sinko de Mayo".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:28 AM on May 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


they had to figure out some way to get college students to drink more beer

this sentence does not compute.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 AM on May 5, 2006


I really wish there was another decent witbier that was a) widely available and b) not Blue Moon (since the company that makes it is owned by Coors and Coors, as has been said, is evil, evil, evil).

(/hijack)
posted by teferi at 8:46 AM on May 5, 2006


(seriously, Coors is a fucking evil company, but come on are all of you really that upset that we have another excuse to get loaded?

You obviously aren't drinking enough.)
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on May 5, 2006


I will definitely be celebrating Cinco de Mayo by enjoying some fine Coors beverages. My throat still hurts from yelling anti-immigration slogans at those damn Mexicans on Monday.
posted by daveleck at 9:02 AM on May 5, 2006


Yes, two different invasions. France was smarting from Napoleon's sale of Louisiana and hoped to regain an American colonial empire. But the first invasion -- the pastry war, which of course was not about pastry -- was under the Bourbon Restoration, and the second intervention -- technically invited by supporters of the Austrian-born Emperor Maximilian -- was under Napoleon III. Strangely, the Battle of Puebla was the beginning of this war, which was "won" on June 20, 1866 (not that it resolved instability in Mexico). Poor Maximilian -- an invited figurehead -- was executed for his troubles. He should have stuck to botany.

I can say that Cinco de Mayo was essentially unheard of in Wisconsin while I was growing up. I may have been introduced to it in college in the late 80s, but it wasn't until NYC that I found it a huge deal. Even then it was the basis for relatively sedate after-work soirees rather than massive street celebrations. I was in Denver about 1998 and the Cinco celebration there was simply overwhelming, with Hispanics and Anglos alike riding around waving flags (I don't know if any of this had racial overtones, but most of it just seemed exuberant rather than aggressive). We were on the freeway and passed numerous open pick-ups with people (mostly guys, of course) hanging out in back, and some of them were actually drinking.

So, in my experience, Cinco has gone from near-zero cultural penetration to something pretty huge in some areas. I think it's still huger in some areas compared with others.

As for college students, jonmc is right. It's just another excuse to drink.
posted by dhartung at 9:09 AM on May 5, 2006


Is this the 2nd day this week that the lawns won't get mowed?
posted by a3matrix at 9:21 AM on May 5, 2006


What's so evil about Coors?
posted by The Castle at 9:22 AM on May 5, 2006


Mexico won the Battle of the Puebla, but the French conquered Mexico.

Coors was the "beer in Texarkana" in Smokey and the Bandit.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:23 AM on May 5, 2006


The answer is clear: drink heavily on May 5th, September 15th, and September 16th.
posted by Maxson at 9:30 AM on May 5, 2006


I'm on it, maxson.
posted by jonmc at 9:35 AM on May 5, 2006


When a company's tagline implies that using their product is akin a soldier sacrificing himself to save his compatriots, and that their consumers are all lycanthropes, odds are pretty good that said product sucks.

Seriously, 'Take a silver bullet for the team'? WTF?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 AM on May 5, 2006


I remember back in the old days, when Coors was supposed to be legendary good. That was when it wasn't sold far beyond Colorado. Today, no way.
posted by Goofyy at 9:57 AM on May 5, 2006


I don't see how a battle that took place in 1862 is part of a skirmish in a war that ended in 1839. You're conflating two different French invasions of Mexico.

Yeah, the Pastry War has nothing to do with Cinco De Mayo. Still, it's a pretty cool name for a war — right up there with the Pig War, the Soccer War, and the War of Jenkins's Ear.

I didn't realize the Pastry War is when Santa Anna lost his leg, an important step (so to speak) on his rise back to power in Mexico after his defeat at the Alamo. Or (this is even better) that the U.S. stole Santa Anna's artificial leg in 1847, and won't give it back.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:02 AM on May 5, 2006


i bet santa anna was hopping mad about that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:17 AM on May 5, 2006


I don't see how Santa Anna would stand for that kind of insult.
posted by wabashbdw at 10:24 AM on May 5, 2006


I really wish there was another decent witbier that was a) widely available and b) not Blue Moon (since the company that makes it is owned by Coors and Coors, as has been said, is evil, evil, evil).

Well, Hoegaarden is available almost everywhere, only it's from Inbev, which is pretty much the Anheuser-Busch of Europe. But why look for something that's "widely available"? I'll bet somebody makes a very good witbier within 50 miles of you, no matter where you live.

Also, excellent post jonp72, though I wouldn't discount Corona's role in all this. (FYI F.O.B. -- Corona is half-owned by A-B.)
posted by sixpack at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2006


I used to love telling the rednecks and frat boys that we didn't serve Coors at a place I worked at years ago. The slack-jawed look left on their faces was priceless.
posted by 2sheets at 11:02 AM on May 5, 2006


Growing up in Virginia, I had never heard of Cinco de Mayo. Then, about ten years ago, it seemed to overtake the nation.

I'm not from Mexico, and while, I'm a fan of the amusing attempts by European powers at colonization, I doubt I'll ever celebrate it. But hey, if it means a bunch of college kids have an excuse to get drunk before 5 pm on Friday, then have at it kiddos!
posted by Atreides at 11:02 AM on May 5, 2006


Oh man, you want a good witbier? Zon by the Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City makes the best (and they also make a good wheat beer, Boulevard Wheat). If you live in the Midwest you should be able to find it. It's possibly the most refreshing beer known to man, with a slight citrus taste to make you smile.

It's only a summer brew, and it's perfect for warm-weather drinking. It only comes in six-packs (that I've seen) and is high priced compared to say Coors but well worth it.
posted by geoff. at 11:11 AM on May 5, 2006


I find Coors' unusually thin beer cans emasculating. Then again I'm easily emasculated.
posted by I Foody at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2006


I'm not Irish either.
posted by mischief at 11:48 AM on May 5, 2006


Ah yes, Rocky Mountain Piss Water.

I used to hike up the mountains behind Golden, CO with friends. We would then proceed to piss in the streams... It was comforting to know that our urine was going to contribute to a batch of Coors finest and might ultimately improve the taste of their...product. Sadly, it still tastes like crap.
posted by rand at 11:50 AM on May 5, 2006


Goddamn the alcoholic drink industry. Personally, I'd like to sue the arse off them for getting me drunk. This hasn't happened just once, oh no! This seems to happen most weekends and sometimes during the week if a friend is in town. Damn them. DAMN THEM!
posted by ob at 12:14 PM on May 5, 2006


Awesome post. Thanks.
posted by tkchrist at 1:18 PM on May 5, 2006


<derail>
Today is also my 1st wedding anniversary (yes, Mrs Sharpener and I got married on 05/05/05, at 5:55...in a kitschy Mexican restaurant). We figured after being together 11 years, tying the know may as well be "special."

Being Canadian, we'll definitely be drinking beer today - and it won't be Coors.
</derail>
posted by sharpener at 3:15 PM on May 5, 2006


know = knot
(so much for preview...)
posted by sharpener at 3:15 PM on May 5, 2006


Santa Anna won at the Alamo. The Volunteers fought it out to the last man. The battle cry was to "remember the Alamo" because they had been so brave not because they won.

The French did conquer Mexico, but they were on their way out when they were caught near Puebla on May fifth. They were headed to Veracruz to leave and were attacked by Mexican forces including citizens with farm implements. The better trained, better equipped French still lost, thus the footnote on the Mexican calendar.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:20 PM on May 5, 2006


lelilo : "I didn't realize the Pastry War is when Santa Anna lost his leg, an important step (so to speak) on his rise back to power in Mexico after his defeat at the Alamo."

As Pollomacho has pointed out, Santa Anna won at the Alamo. The Texans lost.
posted by Bugbread at 7:40 PM on May 5, 2006


Excellent post. But, am I too late to poke mr_crash_davis right in the eye with a sharp implement?

Oh, and his mother, too.
posted by yhbc at 7:52 PM on May 5, 2006


The French did conquer Mexico, but they were on their way out when they were caught near Puebla on May fifth. They were headed to Veracruz to leave and were attacked by Mexican forces including citizens with farm implements. The better trained, better equipped French still lost, thus the footnote on the Mexican calendar.

I wouldn't say the French "conquered" Mexico. They did take Mexico City and install Maximilian, but they failed to destroy the Juarista armies and had little control in the northern states (Sonora, Chihuahua, etc...). Maximilian's empire lasted three years and a month.

This battle at Puebla was the first action of the intervention after the seizure of Veracruz by the Spanish in December 1861. The British and French arrived in January, 1862 and the Spanish and British withdrew in April when it became apparent that the French intended to violate terms in the Treaty of London that prohibited interference in Mexico's internal politics. The French army at the time of the 1862 Battle of Puebla was touted as the best in the world so the loss came a surprise to many. (Giving the Mexicans good reason to remember it.) Ultimately, the French withdrew from Mexico in 1867; soon after Maximilian was executed by the republicans.

There were a number of reasons for the intervention, but colonization was not one of them. Louis Napoleon always intended the Mexican Empire to be self-sufficient and autonomous. And characterizations of Max as a "French puppet" are untenable. Max was ruler in his own right. Napoleon III knew from Max's regency in Milan that Max was nobody's "man" and the French legation held no special sway in his court. (In fact, the Prussian legation was probably more influential.)

It took the conflation of a slew factors for Louis Napoleon to get this thing off the ground-- a sort of perfect storm of international intrigue. It had it all: intervention under specious claims, regional conflict, contravening ideology and a war weary public at home calling for its end. For more info see the work of Michele Cunningham and Nancy Barker.
posted by prosthezis at 8:48 PM on May 5, 2006


Around here, we call it "Drinko De Mayo". Whatever the reason and whatever you choose to drink, ENJOY!! :-)
posted by AmyMay at 9:32 PM on May 5, 2006


Jose Cuervo's dastardly plot
posted by dhartung at 11:32 PM on May 5, 2006


They had to figure out some way to get college students to drink more beer in May.
Not that college students don't drink beer enough, but rather that early May tends to be exam time, so for at least some of us, consumption decreases.

Carry on.
posted by anjamu at 5:29 PM on May 6, 2006


As Pollomacho has pointed out, Santa Anna won at the Alamo. The Texans lost.

Wow. First really stupid mistake I ever made. (Ever.)

I meant, of course, 'after his defeat in Texas," specifically at the Battle of San Jacinto six weeks later, where the winning Texans fought shouting "Remember the Alamo!"

Ironically, considering the next FPP about No Pants Day, Santa Anna tried to hide during that battle by dropping his (official uniform) pants and dressing in the pantaloons of a common soldier. But when he was captured and put with the other prisoners, they snapped to attention and shouted "El Presidente!" Which kind of ruined his disguise.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2006


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