Title

Cannibal Margarine And Reactionary Snapple: A Comparative Examination Of Rumors About Commodities

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-1-1998

Published In

International Journal Of Cultural Studies

Abstract

This article surveys rumors and "contemporary legends" concerned with the contamination or adulteration of various commodities. The article compares common Euro-American folktales like the "Kentucky Fried Rat" or stories concerned with the explosive effects of Pop Rocks with southern African rumors about will-sapping sugar and cannibalistic tinned meat. The global prevalence of such rumors suggests that they represent a shared reaction to the advance of modern capitalism, namely, a popular critique of commodity fetishism, of the loss of social knowledge about the production of commodities. However, such a critique is mostly mischievous or at most subversive. The global prevalence of commodity rumors may suggest that capitalisms alienation is evenly balanced by its desirability, even in those societies most marginalized by its global advance.

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