Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mini America

I've mentioned before how easy and accessible American products are in Israel.

Crisco, from your local Shoprite or the name brand, is available at most stores.
So is Heinz Ketchup, Huggies diapers, La Choy brand soy products, Rice Dream, Nature Valley granola bars, Mishpacha graham cracker crusts, Gefen canned fruit, and the list continues on and on. Sour Sticks are my neighbor's kids choice of snack, when they go on sale for 4 for 10 shekel.

It's a bit funny- after all- how did Israel manage before the invention of Karo syrup in the local supermarket? There must have been something, or Israelis did without.

It doesn't just apply to food. Maclaren and Graco buggies do not come from Israel, that's for sure. Neither does American Sealy mattresses, Gap and Old-Navy clothing lines, or Children's Place sales. Berkshire and Brookline do not get manufactured here, and neither does Anne Klein, Nine West, Aldo, and the many shoe stores out there. Zara's, I can understand- they have a global market. And, there is even a Mac in Israel.

What is the world coming to?

And it has brought the American idea of consumerism to Israel. That 'American'- made is always better, that anything that says American must taste better, be of higher quality, and look nicer than the average Israeli product.

I went to buy shelled peanuts, and I found two types. Regular 'Botnim' (peanuts) and 'Botnim Americai'- American peanuts. When I asked the difference, I was told that American peanuts have a special shehakol coating on them. Go figure.

All one has to do to sell a product in Israel is stick an American flag on it, or say, imported from America- the land of dreams.

What did people do before the influx of people selling Baby Gap in their apartments?
I imagine they must have had substitutes, that were just as nice, or lived without- something to think about.

People have told me that it's changing- that American is not the end-all and be-all of products here anymore. I could hear that- as other countries have joined the international market here in Israel as well- Italian leather, Belgian carpets, English tea....

It's a global world out there- and Israel is smart to take advantage of it. But what did Israel do before the shipping industry took off? Did we make our own products? Did Israel have it's own special niche in many markets besides Intel and the computer industry?

If anyone knows, please let me know. I'd love to hear the history of how Fruit Roll Ups ended up in my neighborhood market.


The Babysitter said...

Interesting, I remember always hearing how Isarel thought American products were so great, but yet if they saw an American in a Gap sweatshirt they didn't like them.

I hear they don't have tylonel in Israel, so many times people ask Americans to bring stuff up for them when they come to Israel, so in a way I think it's still lacking. But yet I think it's great that their becoming international. Not sure if it would have been such a great thing for Israel to be self sufficient. It probably would have been hard and expensive for them.

nmf #7 said...

Babysitter- Actually, Israeli kids request Gap sweatshirts (at least the ones I know), along with heading to the Old Navy and Gap sales held in someone's apartment, buying Aeropostale, and all the rest. And the reason why Israelis ask for stuff from the US is mostly because it's cheaper there.

Tylenol is actually called Acamol (sp?) here in Israel- or Neurofin (I think that's the one for children..) but there is no brand name Tylenol here.

The drug you may be thinking of is Benadryl- it's not available here for 2 reasons- people used to use it as a real drug, and there were studies done on the fact that it can kill children if taken in too large a dose (it puts them to sleep and they forget to breathe.)

The Babysitter said...

o, I didn't know that, I thought they had something against Americans, and the gap sweatshirt was the symbol of an American, unless things have changed since I last heard that, a while ago.

I didn't think of the price difference, I thought Israel's products would be cheaper.

what's (sp?) spelling?

ahh could be it was the other one. So at least they have good protective reasons for not having it.

nmf #7 said...

Since there are tons more Americans here than there used to be- there are GAP and Old Navy sales all over the place, and the Israelis buy it, thinking it's better. They don't have something against Americans- again, you probably wouldn't see someone from Meah Shearim with a GAP sweatshirt, but plenty of the Israeli kids walk around in Oshkosh, Gymboree, and GAP.
Sp- yes that would be spelling.