I’ve been in Naples, aka Napoli – I swear I’ve heard it both ways, even here in Italy – for just over a week. I fell in love with their fried pizza (still too chicken to try the Italian style pizza), I’ve devoured many a cornetta, and even tried a mystery dish…it wasn’t a mystery to them, just to the American who didn’t understand the italian response to, “And what’s that?” and bought it anyway.
But it was high time I made some food myself. So I biked to the store a block away to get the goods for a simple tuna salad on crackers. After discovering that asking for pickles will get you either olives or bell peppers, both pickled of course, and that this store didn’t know what a dill pickle was, I moved on to the crackers.
Would you believe I found Ritz? Seriously, good old Ritz crackers! At least, the box said Ritz. And inside the box were crisp, buttery round crackers with the traditional scalloped edges. They even had the seven perforations you find on every Ritz cracker. But my mouth told me these weren’t Ritz.
Also, I was suspicious to find they were loosely collected in the bag like Lays chips (Ritz are normally stacked like Pringles), so that might have clued me in.
But, no, it was something about the mouth feel: they were dense, rather than light and flaky. Imagine biting into a slice of buttered bread when you were expecting a croissant. Like that.
On the back of the box, instead of Nabisco, it listed the manufacturer as Mondelez International.
I thought: Copyright infringement?! Oooh, was I going to rat them out!
Or was I just going to embarrass myself?
A quick internet search cleared things up for me. It turns out, to generate sales outside of the US, Ritz uses a subsidiary. Instead of Nabisco manufacturing the crackers, they have Moldelez do the job. So all on the up and up. But, still, if you see the brand name, you expect the brand taste! Funnily enough, another internet search led me to find that Mondelez (once Kraft foods) is also based in the US…so why are they the better choice for international sales? *shrugs shoulders*
I also read some very unsavory things on the Mondelez “Controversies”section of Wikipedia, but that’s someone else’s blog to write.
Oh, wait, we still need to wrap up this blog. The lesson I am quickly learning: even American food is made differently for overseas sales.
In case your curious what other American foods might taste a little off when traveling internationally, the same Wikipedia page tells us Mondelez also makes Belvita, Chips Ahoy!, Oreo, Ritz, TUC, Triscuit, LU, Club Social, Sour Patch Kids, Barny, and Peek Freans; chocolate brands Milka, Côte d’Or, Toblerone, Cadbury, Green & Black’s, Freia, Marabou, Fry’s, and Lacta; gum and cough drop brands Trident, Dentyne, Chiclets, Halls, and Stride; as well as Jell-O, Tate’s Bake Shop and powdered beverage brand Tang.
So, you’re welcome. Enjoy your travels, enjoy your eating, and then enjoy not having to question why your American favorites might not taste exactly the same.