If you’ve not tried Mackies excellent dairy ice cream I’d urge you to. I especially recommend their white chocolate and coconut variety.
Mackies are a Scottish family-owned company based in rural Aberdeenshire that must provide or support hundreds of jobs. Their products are sold UK-wide including in upmarket supermarkets like Waitrose. They also manufacture crisps and a range of chocolate bars. But they had the temerity to include a union flag on some bars of dark chocolate with Scottish mint:
Almost inevitably, this sparked instant nationalist outrage including this:
The anger culminated in a recommendation by an online enthusiast to boycott Mackies’ ice cream and buy a better and cheaper Scottish alternative, ‘Strachan’s Traditional Dairy Ice Cream’:
Here is Strachan’s traditional dairy ice cream. You’ll note its packaging does indeed include the saltire which so excites and enthuses nationalists:
And here is Mackies’ traditional dairy ice cream:
If the two products appear similar it may be because ‘Strachan’s’, an Aldi own-brand, is manufactured for them by, you’ve probably guessed, Mackies (my thanks to @dhothersall for pointing this out on Twitter).
Ironies abound in what is only one case study amongst many.
The whole upset was based on a misunderstanding. Mackies pointed out that the union flag was only included on an export version of their chocolate bar at
the request of our overseas retailer customers … [It] made the bars instantly recognisable as an imported product to the USA’ (cited in the link above).
Far from hiding under the union flag, Mackies badge all their output, including both ice cream and errant chocolate bar, as the product of ‘Mackies of Scotland’.
Despite the intent to damage the company through a boycott of their products, the ignorant action of recommending an alternative brand would only have resulted in Mackies ice cream being bought under another label, and incidentally benefiting a German-owned supermarket.
There are at least three uncomfortable truths for Scottish nationalists in this nonsense.
First, not only is the union flag more recognised internationally than the saltire, it is regarded abroad as a positive marketing attribute.
Second, they are mere amateurs in what makes a successful economy. They do not know better than the companies concerned what is best for their business.
Third, through their irrational devotion to symbols they are willing to actually damage Scottish companies that provide jobs and help drive our economy.
None of this will be news to followers of Scottish politics for the last few years. The same sort of belligerency was evident in the 2014 referendum campaign: Tunnocks (confectionary) and Walkers (shortbread) come to mind as two successful Scottish companies that have been targeted in the same way.
For the record, this is my list of nationalist food-related grievances, although not all apparent in the Mackies case:
- where there is a choice, Scots should eat food produced in Scotland rather than in the rest of the UK regardless of the fact that if everyone did the same our farmers, fishers and distillers would have no market for their products in England or Wales, let alone elsewhere
- Scottish food is better than the equivalent produced in the rest of the UK, for example raspberries, for which we are renowned (at least in our own eyes, but see ‘Some rasps to go with Mackies delicious ice cream’ after this article)
- food and drink produced in Scotland should be explicitly labelled as such. For example it is not enough to say ‘Grown by Joe Bloggs in Perthshire’, let alone ‘Grown by Joe Bloggs in Perthshire, UK’. Any label on Scottish goods saying ‘Produced in the UK’ is entirely unacceptable
- the saltire is acceptable as a badge of origin on Scottish food, even desirable, but the union flag is not. This is true whether the food is marketed in Glasgow, London, Paris or an airport duty free shop somewhere in Asia. For some this is a matter of general sentiment, for others it is because the union flag is ‘the butcher’s apron’, a pejorative term originating with Irish Republicanism
- not labelling Scottish food explicitly as Scottish dilutes ‘Scotland the brand’ and our national identity
- this is all part of a concerted attempt to undermine that identity and do down our economy. It may well involve a plot by the UK government or its agencies
- inappropriate labelling (as defined by objectors) is a valid reason to boycott the producer or retailer concerned.
(I have been careful to specify ‘the rest of the UK’ in this list as I have never seen objections to food from anywhere else being sold or badged with its nationality in Scotland)
Like many people, other things being equal I’d prefer to eat food produced as locally as possible. This means it’s fresher and uses fewer ‘food miles’ to get to me. And if it’s genuinely better than produce from elsewhere, I’d prefer to buy it over an alternative product. If I were an aficionado of single malts, I wouldn’t look further than Scotland to stock my drinks cupboard, however the bottles were labelled. As for the rest, it’s hokum.
Anyhow, I think I’ve got my pudding tonight sorted – Mackies white chocolate and coconut ice cream with a side of Scottish rasps, Driscoll’s Maravilla as it happens, ‘Grown in Kincardineshire’.