Oh my. Unsuspecting Swiss citizens on their morning commute looking to make their coffee more tasty were unexpectedly confronted with the face of the twentieth century’s most iconic representation of evil, Adolf Hitler, on their miniature packets of coffee creamer. A subsidiary of Migros, a Swiss retail behemoth, produced the coffee creamer packages, which had both Hitler and Mussolini on them.
According to the New York Times, Tristan Cerf, a spokesman for Migros, said that “the mishap occurred when an outside company asked ELSA, a dairy manufacturer that is one of Migros’s subsidiaries, to supply a series of 55 coffee cream containers based on vintage cigar labels, two of which featured the dictators.”
“I can’t tell you how these labels got past our controls,’’ Mr. Cerf said. “Usually the labels have pleasant images like trains, landscapes and dogs—nothing polemic that can pose a problem.” As the Times reported, “In coffee-loving Switzerland, labels from the mini-cream containers are cult collectibles, and producers often seek new and inventive ways to enhance their appeal.”
On Wednesday, the coffee creamer packages caused a minor sensation on the Internet. The Migros immediately parted ways with Karo Shipping, the company responsible for them. After the existence of the dictator portraits was broken by the Swiss commuter newspaper “20 Minutes” Migros immediately apologized and referred to it as an “unforgivable blunder.”
The designs should never have been shipped, said Migros spokesperson Luzi Weber. Chosen by Karo Shipping, they were adopted before anyone had examined them closely. “In future, we will tighten our controls for these products drastically,” Weber said. A total of 300 boxes, each containing 200 coffee cream portions, were sold. However, the two dictators would recur only four times per package.
Because the Karo Shipping managing director Peter Waelchli described the coffee creamers in various media reports as “not a problem,” Migros immediately broke off business relations with the company, which is located in Bern. “The image is one of many in the series of cigar bands, which is on the collectors’ market for two years,” said Waelchli. The picture was selected from a book about cigar bands. Waelchli can not understand how—after two years—it is suddenly such a big deal in the media. “Sure it’s bad, what happened under Hitler,” Waelchli said. “Even today people do bad things—in Syria people are being beheaded.”
“These statements are unacceptable to us,” said Weber.
Thank you Susan Stone!