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We had a story yesterday about how Anheuser Busch, now that it has acquired Rolling Rock beer, plans to move the production facility from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to Newark, NJ, and will use water from a Jersey reservoir rather than from Pennsylvania mountain springs. However, according to Anheuser, only the label will change. The taste, the company says, will remain the same.

MNB user Terry Pyles observed:

Anheuser Busch moves Rolling Rock production to New Jersey. Their water source changes from mountain springs in Pennsylvania to a reservoir in Newark. They confidently proclaim the taste and quality of the beer will remain unchanged. Yet instead of proudly trumpeting the New Jersey reservoir, they purposely mislead the consumer into believing the source is mountain spring water. Hmmm . . . Duplicity or unintended irony? You be the judge.

MNB user Steve Sullivan chimed in:

Having spent many an idyllic college summer afternoon with a little green Rolling Rock pony bottle in my hand, I decry A-B’s decision to move production from Latrobe to Newark (and that comes from a Jersey expatriate). Although (believe it or not) the New Jersey deep aquifer provides some of the finest, purest drinking water available anywhere, I can't understand why they would mess with success - and (OH NOOOOOO) tradition.

Next think you know they'll be changing the bottle to amber. And changing the '33' to '66' (or worse yet, taking it off of the bottle).

Oh, well. I guess I'll just throw a case of the Jersey RR in my Chinese made MG and head to the lake.

MNB user Sue DeRemer wrote:

I think we need a "water of origin" law for beer.

However, an MNB user who works for Anheuser-Busch who asked to remain anonymous wrote:

I do not think that it is our goal to obfuscate the fact that we are not brewing Rolling Rock in Latrobe, PA. According to a story from the Associated Press, most of the label will remain the same:

QUOTE FROM AP: The label will retain the enigmatic number "33" at the end of its quality pledge. But the words "St. Louis, Missouri" will be added to the pledge, which will now be preceded by the phrase: "To honor the tradition of this great brand, we quote from the original pledge."

And while the beer will now be made in New Jersey, the labels will still say: "From the glass-lined tanks of old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment, as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you." END QUOTE

To me, that seems like we are trying to keep some tradition of the brand (we aren't sticking it into brown bottles, thank goodness!) while being up-front with our ownership. As you well know, we are in a paradox in a "long tail" environment where we are occasionally punished for being the large domestic macro-brewer (all things to all people), especially by an increasing number of drinkers who are interested in obscure craft or import brews.

The original story we read made it sound like there was a little more obfuscation going on than perhaps there is. That said, the reactions of Rolling Rock drinkers – a notoriously loyal and sentimental bunch – must be taken in to account, and A-B needs to tread carefully.

Fair enough?

MNB had a story yesterday about how Ben & Jerry’s, the Unilever-owned all-natural ice cream manufacturer, has publicly stated that it will not use a synthetic anti-freeze protein in its ice cream products – even though its parent company has been actively trying to get the protein approved for use in ice cream products in the UK.

A spokesperson for Ben & Jerry's said: "We would not dream of including anything like that in our products. One of the biggest problems is that we are affected by Unilever's actions even though they are nothing to do with the way that we behave. The fact that we are not using this GM ingredient shows that we are not following all of their decisions."

We commented that it makes sense for Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s to go different ways on this issue, since it allow Ben & Jerry’s to be true to its tradition and Unilever to own brands at both sides of the spectrum. “The only thing Unilever has to be careful of is to make sure it is consistent to its various brands’ values…because to do otherwise would be to undermine their integrity. In other words, it probably doesn’t make sense for Ben & Jerry’s to start selling a new flavor called Ann Coulter Crunch.”

MNB user Joe Fraioli responded:

I was one of the earlier (users) of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. My family used to vacation every summer near Burlington, Vermont, and one such summer we had the craving for ice cream so we went to the local market (I am being generous calling it a market, more like a deli) and the only ice cream they had was this stuff with two hippies on it. These guys were Ben and Jerry and the product came in weird flavors. Thankfully we gave it a shot and of course, like most, loved it. Over the years I have watched in awe of the growth and popularity of the brand and the causes the two founders have contributed to while running the company and when they were done doing so. I agree that a company like Unilever can own multiple companies with different philosophies and goals but they need to be very careful not to upset any one customer base or they may learn a major lesson about company image and customer loyalty.

And MNB user Tom Drummond wrote:

I too am in the Ice Cream business, and even though I am conservative in nature and lean towards the middle now due to W ... I commend Ben & Jerry on their decision making. This is why they are the success that they are and rise to top as the cream would. As far as Ann Coulter Crunch ... it probably is just as bad tasting as Carville Crunch. They're both repulsive .....!

We also had a story yesterday about how the city of Chicago is entertaining legislation that would make illegal the sale of foods containing trans fats by the city’s restaurants.

MNB user Kurt Burmeister responded:

If they put that much energy behind fixing the Dan Ryan (major highway) everyone could get home faster and possibly get a workout in before dinner. Trans-fat free, of course.

MNB user Rick Heineman wrote:

It is unfair to target restaurants. If it needs to be banned than the ban should cover all retail, grocery and Internet sales. This proposed law is stupid. If you want to greatly reduce your trans-fat consumption stop eating fried foods. This is a choice that a consumer can make.

And MNB user Dustin Stinett chimed in:

I cannot wait to see what Chicago's politicians ban next. I'm having mental images of a speakeasy that serves "illegal" cookies and crackers with, of course, foie gras (all while the paid-off "coppers" turn a blind eye). It would be fitting that the "front" for the joint would be a funeral home, but that's another story.

We continue to get email about the value of working the night shift, which is what Tesco is trying to get a number of its Irish managers to do. One MNB user wrote:

I used to work for a great retailer, Albertsons, yes, way back when... before egotistical mergers etc. And, during my time at the District office, we all were scheduled to do night checks and weekend checks at certain times throughout the quarter (note: our corporate executives were out on selected weekends and evenings - try that, Larry Johnson). Not only were we to inspect areas of our specialty but we also were responsible for seeing the entire store and operating area especially including those parts the customers see first, the parking lots, front doors and especially lighting. The point being is that night/evening and weekend conditions are not something that you can give lip service to and only "tell" the store employees to take care of. It can only be an effort where the culture of the company begins at the very top and "leads" the rest of the company to follow because, "that is just the way 'we' do business." So, I agree, have some night and weekend shifts for the managers, but do Tesco supervisors/executives show them the way?? Kudos if they do.

Another MNB user wrote:

I can honestly attest to the fact that there is value in working the night shift periodically. As a young and later a seasoned manager and director, you would be surprised about all the stories that could be written about what happens when the night crew arrives to unload trucks and stock the shelves. Looking back, it was an experience and every store manager should take the opportunity to schedule time to work nights. The one thing that is important is that the manager needs to roll up his/her sleeves and work. Another: don't tell when you are going to pop in a work alongside the in-store associates. Just do it! Unannounced!

Finally, we wrote yesterday of the passing of novelist Mickey Spillane, 88, who was known for being exceptionally nice to his fans. "I have no fans," Spillane told the Washington Post in 1984. "You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friend."

MNB user Charlie Fowler wrote:

I was a big "fan" (and oh yes...a "customer") of Mickey Spillane.

I was fortunate enough to meet him in 1954 at the hotel Adams in Phoenix when I was in spring training with the (then) New York Giants.

He was at the poolside having a brew. To my surprise, he was very cordial to all the ballplayers and their spouses.

One good memory on the highway of life.

KC's View: