Wegmans is Wishy-Washy

You know, there are few things in the world I dislike more than Alec Baldwin. But one of them is wishy-washy-ness. Today’s Daily Intel brought us this story about a commercial Alec Baldwin filmed for upstate New York grocery chain Wegmans. A million other news outlets covered this story, as well, but I like Daily Intel’s version the best, because it contains this astute description of something that I hadn’t realized till now was such a common phenomenon:

Anyone you know from upstate or western New York —  say, Buffalo, Rochester, or Syracuse —  has inevitably, at some point, mentioned to you how much they love something called “Wegmans.” After they explain to you the majesty and wonder of Wegmans, you say to them, “Oh, so it’s like a nice supermarket.” To which they respond indignantly, as if you just belittled one of their children’s crayon drawings, “It is not just supermarket. It is so much more.” You recognize a crazy, unnerving look in their eyes, and you slowly back away. You never speak of Wegmans again.

My college roommate was from sleepy Geneva, New York. We went to school in hideous northern Indiana. And I’m fairly certain that no vehicle bound for South Bend from Geneva was permitted outside the town lines without a 24-pack of Wegmans brand diet cola in it for Mary. If Mary was returning to college from break. If her parents were visiting her for any of the multitude of reasons our parents visited us in college. If her aunt and uncle were coming out for a football game. There was a 24-pack of Wegmans brand diet cola in the trunk for Mary. Because, you see, Wegmans brand diet cola is better than Diet Coke. It tastes better. It looks better in your hand. You look better with it in your hand. It makes you live longer.

At least that’s what I was led to believe about Wegmans brand diet cola.

And the mystique, apparently, can be infectious. My father grew up in West New York. He and my mother lived in an apartment in Weehawken after they were married. After my brother was born and shortly before I came along, they moved to what they believed at the time was the country: Rockland County. (On a clear day, you can see the city from parts of the area.) In other words, they are not Wegmans People. They do the can-can at Shop-Rite.

You wouldn’t know this if you met my father, though. The man ate a hotdog from Wegmans at a football tailgate back in 1995. (Because of course my roommate’s parents had brought tailgating supplies from Wegmans. Indiana hotdogs just aren’t the same.) Sixteen years later, he’s morphed into some kind of brand ambassador, a Wegmans acolyte wandering the hot dog section of the Stop-n-Shop, willing our Hebrew Nationals and Nathan’s Famous to aspire to something greater. You’d think the guy was from Buffalo, or something.

All of this notwithstanding, I’m here to tell you today that Wegmans is not so great. Even though this video makes them look pretty darn swell. But no! I must resist the allure! The delicious diet cola! The life-altering hotdogs! The dead-eyed, cult-like workers smiling at me through the slightly blurry and heaven-like Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds commercial-style camera work in the video I just linked! I will resist it all!

Because Wegmans is wishy-washy.

You see, apparently sometime in 2010, Alec Baldwin went on Late Night with David Letterman and told the world that his mother could never move to California because she couldn’t leave Wegmans. I’m not sure precisely what went on during the 12+ months that followed that pronouncement, but regardless, this Christmas, Alec Baldwin and his mother appeared in a commercial for the grocery store. And that was all well and good until the actor went H.A.M. on an American Airlines flight, bound and determined to play Words With Friends no matter what the flight attendants or the F.A.A. had to say about it. Upon hearing this news, Wegmans customers took to the phones in the, well …

We didn’t get hundreds of complaints, but we did get a few dozen.

The actor simply wasn’t of the caliber required to represent our esteemed shopping establishment, the callers protested. (This is where I bring up that Alec Baldwin was hardly the greatest guy on the planet even before the American Airlines incident, but I know it’s futile: Our populace is determined to believe the man is a damn national treasure, and there’s not a thing I can say to change it.) And so, the grocery store pulled the commercial off the air.

Which is kind of ridiculous, but whatever. I appreciate that Wegmans has its standards, and it’s willing to make the occasional unpopular decision to uphold those … wait. What? Oh. Never mind.

We regret ending the Alec Baldwin holiday commercials one week earlier than planned in response to a couple of dozen complaints. We have decided to run the commercials again, effective immediately. Clearly, many more people support Alec, as evidenced by the hundreds and hundreds of tweets, emails, and phone calls we have received. We enjoyed working with Alec Baldwin and his mom, Carol, and would do it again. We appreciate all the kind things they have said about Wegmans and respect the good work they do for communities.

Yup. You just roll over and take it, Wegmans. Buncha people get worked up on Twitter. Better listen.


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