Coach Handbags and Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Will Never be the Same
What does it say about our country that so many products, while becoming more costly, are becoming less and less well made? It especially galls me that two of my favorite items have taken this hit, as I remember them back in the day when these products were truly premium. Those companies' products today are a poor substitute for their forebears. Especially sad is the fact that younger generations aren’t even aware that this has happened.
“How good something is should never be determined by its cost, designer, origin, or its perceived value by others.” ― Ashly Lorenzana
I’ll always remember my mother’s mantra that a single quality product may cost more up front but in the end it was worth more than many cheap and poorly made ones. Hence my introduction to the early years of the Coach handbag.
I bought my first Coach in the late 70s, early 80s – a Crescent Saddle Bag. They were being sold in a clothes store near the plaza in Santa Fe, NM and cost between $60.00 and $70.00, expensive in those days. The purse was constructed of a soft, heavy, beautifully finished, golden colored leather. The hardware fittings were heavy brass. I loved its simplicity!
Fast forward 30 years and today’s Coach handbags, compared with their originals, are unrecognizable. Coach's once simple and classic purses now have patterned canvas (aaaagh!), textured and shiny leathers, unnecessary “bells and whistles” and silver plated hardware (aaaagh again!) and could now pass for any other nameless brand. Did I mention the horrible, cheap new logo of a stagecoach (à la Hermès?!) the company is now using? Their website is filled with row upon row of cheap looking, Gucci-like wannabes. Tragic. And they actually expect customers to cough up $250.00 plus for these atrocities! A recent headline bemoaned the fact that Coach's sales have been down recently. The company's planned response? Raise their prices!
Thankfully, though, there were apparently enough people who remembered the original Coach styles and created a demand for them that the company does still maintain its Coach Classics line. Hopefully, that doesn’t change. It also appears that there is a thriving market for the true vintage purses out there. I found some well maintained Crescent Saddle Bags going for $150.00 and more!
“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.” ― John Ruskin
Of course, my mother’s maxim of “quality over cheap” also applied to ice cream. Häagen-Dazs, back in the late 70s, 80s and 90s was a rich, creamy, thoroughly fattening ice cream which came so close to homemade that it made it pointless to go through the exertion of making your own. The coffee flavor, one of the company's three original flavors, was always our family favorite.
When I moved out on my own and was finally free to eat as much ice cream as I pleased, I became a Häagen-Dazs addict. I would go through a pint at a time, several pints in a week. I loved their ice cream!
PROBLEM: having trouble finding a really good ice cream?
SOLUTION: make your own just the way you like it!
Then, several years ago now, I suddenly noticed that it didn’t taste the same. Unperturbed, I thought that maybe I had been unlucky and bought a bad batch, so I tried a different flavor. But that didn’t taste right either! Instead of being rich and creamy, it tasted "fluffy" and watered down. The Macadamia Brittle didn’t have “chunks” of macadamias any longer - it had “chips”. The German Chocolate Cake didn’t have a big, gooey ribbon of coconut frosting swirled through its middle – you were lucky if you found a thread. About the same time, Häagen-Dazs changed their label, replacing their once classy and immediately recognizable packaging with a mere shadow of the former.
That should have been a sign . . .
After an “aha” moment, I went online and found to my horror that Häagen-Dazs had, in fact, been taken over by Nestlé subsidiary, Dreyer's! Not quite believing my misfortune, I went directly to a grocery store and, sure enough, Häagen-Dazs was no longer Häagen-Dazs! The real deal had been replaced by an ursurper of ill repute (in my books anyway!).
Furious, I fired off an email to Dreyers complaining bitterly of the cheapening of one of my favorite products. I received a form letter back saying that they had not changed their product (apparently unaware that it was completely useless to LIE to an original Häagen-Dazs aficionado) and “valued me as customer”, blah, blah, blah.
I am still furious to this day! I take spiteful joy in seeing that, for some reason, Dreyers felt it necessary to come out with a line called “Five”, as in only five, unadulterated ingredients. Might it be due to other customers’ feedback and complaints? Hopefully so, although even this new addition doesn’t taste like the original!
Have you ever had one of your favorite products changed and ruined?
Why, oh why, does this happen? It seems that today companies have lost taking pride in the quality of their products, it's all about profit. Oh, their advertising touts how well made their goods are but unfortunately for them there are still some of us around who remember what real quality is all about. Of course, it’s in the companies’ favor that the typical consumers of today have very short memories and are obsessed with a label versus how the product is actually made.
It doesn’t help that the newer generations don’t even know what they’ve missed. Their grandparents are fast becoming part of a generation that has also forgotten that washing machines used to last for decades, that clothes were once made of quality cloth (even “cheap” ones) and that Campbell’s Soup used to taste like homemade soup, not the oversalted, tasteless concoctions the company claims to be wholesome today.
"Popularity is not an indication of quality." — Vanna Bonta
When it comes to product quality, the reality is that it is up to us, the consumer, to put the brakes on this race to the bottom. We buy these products. We are the ones accepting and still consuming the trash that corporations use to fill their shelves. We keep demanding cheap prices without thinking about the corners a company will cut to reach that price. Our nation has been brainwashed into believing that we are better people for having the newest, hottest widgets and that we, unlike older generations, should disregard the fact that they are poorly made. It is assumed they won't last, that we'll throw them away and run out and buy another. We need to turn this race to the bottom around and begin a slow and steady climb back to quality that lasts. It doesn't appear that will be an easy task.
 Gemini Fox
 Gemini Fox, via Google Images (Usage Rights: “Labeled for reuse with modification” / Modifications: border and label added)
© 2014 Gemini Fox