post-modern coffe substitute

This weekend I was in Bergen and it was the first time for a very long time that I have spend an extensive amount of time with “normal” non-political Norwegian youngsters. Well, not really, they were not all that unpolitical, but they were not on the extreme far left. Or at least not all of them were. I was attending the fall camp of the Pedagogy Students (PS) – the student chapter of the main teachers labor union.

CARO - coffe substitute
CARO – coffe substitute


And then yesterday, I started reflecting a bit upon the the meaning of coffe-substitutes…

Att the camp, all but one of the others were attending various teachers schools around the country, and it made me feel like this elitist brainiac radical urbanist. They were all very much into singin songs like “Postman Pat” spontaneously in the middle of the day and sendign small notes across the “class room”. And they were all sure that they had to attend everything, no matter how little sense that made. Like on the last day, there was a vote on a few positions, and only those in the national leadership had the right to vote. “We have to be there at 12 o’clock precisely!,” a brown-haired rather tiny girl from somewhere up north tried to convince me, “They said that we have to be there precisely!” “Ah, that’s ok, we can’t vote anyways, so we’re realy not needed,” I tried to assure her unsuccesfully, as she replied: “but they said we have to be there!” And that happened all the time, with all of them. A very interesting culture that is, these teacher students.

But then yesterday, I used the Nescafe package that I found in this year’s start package (a commercial goody bag that is handed out to all students at the start of every semester to get us to try out all those shiny products they need to sell). I usually don’t drink Coffe, but that made me think back in tiem, abotu 10-15 years, when I used to drink coffe at my grandma’s. Now my grandmother didn’t have real coffe, but rather “coffe substitute” (brand: CARO Kaffe)- as that is what they had during the war when they lacked coffe beans. Now don’t get me wrong, my grandmother switched to normal coffe after the war, but she still uses the substitute coffe at special occasions. And then it is coffeine free, so it’s a great thing to be serving kids.

I asked one of my Norwegian friends wehther he knew about places were you could buy coffe substitute in oslo. He didn’t think that you could get that outside of war zones, so I started searching the net. And – CARO still exists in Germany! And not only that – sicne 2002 they even have CARO Latte. What a mix! Now you can feel like you are a post-modern urbanite inttelectuel – during WWII! My Norwegian friend immediately asked whether it would also contain milk substitute, and as my German is a bit rusty, I contatced one of my DDR-friends (DDR=former East Germany). Of course it was milk substitute, I was told. “But CARO is from Néstle,” she argued, “why don’t you go for the DDR-product ImNu – they don’t use gene-manipulated ingredients.”

Of course, how could I be so stupid as to think that there was any West-German product that didn’t have an East-German counterpart that was way superior? “I will have to send you guys an East-package for Christmas!,” the girl from the former DDR continued. For anyone not getting the point immeditely, I have to spoil it: “West-packages” were those goody packages of West-German consumer goods that Wets-German families would send their East-German relatives for Christmas before West-Germany swallowed the DDR.

This is just one of those situations where i feel all of history from the last 70 years comes togetehr – the war, the two Germanies and the socalled “postmodern” period. All in one package of coffe.

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