Help! I’ve been Disneyfied.

Ok, it isn’t just me. Let me back up and start from the beginning.

This morning, I went out to the local Supermarket to get eggs and bacon. Now, there are places where I can probably get locally produced eggs and bacon*, but the convenience of the Supermarket seemed important at the time since I had houseguests who were hungry for breakfast. I wandered through the isles looking for eggs, and eventually found them anchoring the corner of the Dairy section. I’m not sure what type of historical contingency has led to eggs being classed with dairy products, but there you go.

At any rate, I was looking through the eggs for something that would fit into the budget of a graduate student couple with a small child while still giving at least a nod toward sustainable production when I saw them: Disney Eggs. I think I probably just stood staring for thirty seconds or so, trying to get my pre-caffeinated mind to process this juxtaposition. Of course I bought them, if only to bring them home and see if I was the only one who thought this  was odd.

These eggs are supposed to be “great tasting, fun, and nutritious,” but I had never realized that other eggs were less-than-fun. Looking in the carton at the pure white eggs, each stamped with a colorful picture of a Disney character, I still wasn’t sure. Would putting a stamp of Mickey or Wall-E on a hammer make it a “fun hammer”? Is that really all it takes? They tasted OK, though not as good to me as farm-fresh eggs from friends. I can’t speak for the nutritional value–they were produced by Eggland’s Best, and something about their all-vegetarian feed is supposed to make the eggs more nutritious.  From the looks of their web site, vegetarian fed hens and yoga may work together to keep kids healthy. These eggs have been Disneyfied–turned into a model of homogenized consumption. And I ate them–so since “you are what you eat,” then I must be Disneyfied, too.

Meanwhile, I got two emails warning me about the dangers of bills HR 875 and 759 to local food production, along with another message that the danger might be overstated. The bills in question both deal with the FDA and food safety following the recent US salmonella outbreak stemming from a single peanut butter production facility in Georgia. I found my pre-caffenated mind trying to sort this out, and drawing parallels between Big Peanuts and Big Eggs. Of course, Disney is also marketing in the peanut world through Peter Pan Peanut Butter, which was involved in the peanut/salmonella recall in 2007. I’m not trying to point at any sort of a hidden Disney conspiracy–rather to point at a very up-front marketing campaign, and the ways that ideas about fun, nutrition, and make-believe are linked together to drive the mass sales of homogenous imagined foods like Disney Eggs or Peter Pan Peanut Butter. 

…The Disney enterprise goes beyond the imaginary. Disney, the precursor, the grand initiator of the imaginary as virtual reality, is now in the process of capturing all the real world to integrate it into its synthetic universe, in the form of a vast “reality show” where reality itself becomes a spectacle [vient se donner en spectacle], where the real becomes a theme park. The transfusion of the real is like a blood transfusion, except that here it is a transfusion of real blood into the exsanguine universe of virtuality. After the prostitution of the imaginary, here is now the hallucination of the real in its ideal and simplified version. —Jean Baudrillard

*It is, though, currently illegal here to keep chickens in a residential neighborhood.