Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All-American Addendum

My latest attempt at making art was inspired by my love for our great country, the United States of America.  I grew up always hearing the term "All-American" being said in reference to high school jocks, hot dogs and a good ol' barbeque.  But what exactly makes something "All-American"?  I wanted to explore some items that are definitely American in essence and creation, but not perceived to be American.  I wanted to add to the definition of "All-American".

I present to you four digital images in a series titled: "All-American Addendum"

"All-American Take-Out"

The Chinese take-out box is instantly recognizable by millions in America.  We've all seen it on TV and most of us default to ordering Chinese food in these unique containers on a rainy or lazy day.  But the Chinese take-out box is not Chinese at all.  It's an American invention that was originally known as the oyster pail.  It was an inexpensive and sanitary way to take home fresh oysters that were shucked by the seller.  After World War II, there was a large increase in the number of people who began purchasing foods from restaurants that could be finished or heated up at home.  Chinese food became a popular choice since it was tasty, inexpensive and traveled well.  The oyster pail was quickly adopted for Chinese take-out, and the rest is history.  Chinese take-out boxes are only found in America and are manufactured by Fold-Pak, a company based out of Georgia.

"All-American Cookie"

Ah... the Chinese fortune cookie.  The crunchy, semi-sweet, message toting cookie that is served at the end of every Chinese meal... in America!  Fortune cookies are nowhere to be found in Asia (much to my surprise on my first visit to Taiwan) because they are an American creation.  There are competing claims as to who created the fortune cookie, but all the claims come from California.  If fortune cookies are found in China, they are sold as "genuine American fortune cookies".  Fortune cookies used to be made by hand, but once a fortune cookie making machine was invented in Oakland, California, it dropped the price of the cookies dramatically, giving birth to the novelty and courtesy dessert that we are all familiar with today.

"All-American Goods"

Made in China, consumed in America.  Having products inexpensively produced in China to maximize profit margins has become an American way of life.  Almost everything is made in China these days.  It's often a treat to pick up a product, flip it over and find "Made in USA" stamped on the bottom.  Most of our household items, from your beloved iPhone to the shoes that you wear, are all made/assembled in China.  That "Made in China" stamp allows all of us to afford our "All-American", consumer driven lifestyle.

"All-American Me"

What do I see when I look in the mirror?  An "All-American" boy who grew up on McDonald's when they still had dark meat in their Chicken McNuggets and when you could "Humongo-size" your value meal; a red-blooded American who appreciates a nicely chromed Harley-Davidson and a perfectly cooked steak; a car enthusiast who would choose a 1969 Camaro SS over a Toyota Supra.

What do other people (some, not all) see when they look at me?  A foreigner.  I once had a lady tell me that she expected an accent from me, upon our first meeting.

An all too common piece of dialogue:
Man: "Where are you from?"
Me: "Texas."
Man: "No, I mean, where are you REALLY from?"
Me: "I'm REALLY from Texas.  I was born and raised there."
Man: "Oh."

One of my personal goals in life is to update the definition of "All-American" to include everything that makes this country so great.  Help me pass on this "All-American Addendum".

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