And she was right: Switzerland is not just divided by the so-called RÃ¶stigraben, the RÃ¶sti divide, that invisible separation between the German and the French-speaking parts of the country. No! There is also a huge dichotomy between those who champion either one or the other of the big supermarket chains: Migros or coop. Proponents on each side maintain that their storeâ€™s products are the best, now and forever!
Iâ€™m a Migros champ, too. Always have been. I believe my parents were Migros champs from an early age on, as well, and passed it down to me and my brother. Migros and me â€“ itâ€™s kind of a genetic thing, so to speak.
In the little village I grew up in, before we got our own supermarket, a Migros bus would pass through every week. It drove onto the square in front of the community hall; a refitted truck in which â€“ only God knows how â€“ about half of the â€œorange giantâ€™sâ€ (as Migros likes to style itself) product range fit in. Toilet paper, pasta, cooking oil, chicken wings, even a small selection of fruit and vegetables. More important, however, was the opportunity it gave the villagers for a good gossip. Speculations about â€œwho with whomâ€ along with tales of who had yet again not stacked their newspapers neatly for the recycling collection and other village misdemeanors were avidly exchanged.
Then one day the Migros truck stopped coming, possibly when the Volg supermarket opened in the village â€“ or maybe that only opened after the Migros truck stopped making its appearance. One of the two. But the trucks continued their tours in the more remote areas of Switzerland â€“ for example, the canton of Valais â€“ until quite recently. In fact, the last trucks were only decommissioned in 2007.
Happily, this development didnâ€™t mean that Migros disappeared out of my life entirely. Not at all. Migros continued to play an active role in my familyâ€™s routine. Despite having to undertake a five-kilometer drive to the cantonal capital for our weekly shopping, we remained loyal to Migros. Once a week, I sat proudly in the shopping cart and was treated to a slice of cold lunchmeat from the shopâ€™s own butchery. A highlight! If we went shopping on a Saturday, we treated ourselves to a roast chicken, fresh from the roasting spit.
Then one day Budget* and Cumulus* made their advent. Shopping lost its attraction as a family excursion and became the necessary evil that it is for most adults.
Yet, until today, certain Migros products remain essential to my daily routine â€“ household items that can only be bought there. Once a Migros champ, always a Migros champ.
Like Handy dish soap. No idea why â€“ I donâ€™t even really like the way it smells. And its orange packaging with its white lettering reminds me of a sixties design (which, to be honest, is probably when it was created). Still I would never contemplate buying another dish soap. Handy belongs in every kitchen.
The same goes for the ice cream. Which hasnâ€™t changed in over 30 years. And Iâ€™m not talking about just any Migros popsicle with chocolate ice cream. It has to be the one with the brown wrapper and the bear on it. That bear is irreversibly linked with countless summer memories: running through the sprinkler, playing Chinese jump rope, hula hoops, and sunburn. For others, itâ€™s the vanilla sea lion or the strawberry monkey. To me, it was the chocolate bear.
And the ice tea, of course. You know the one I mean? Migros makes the best ice tea in the world. The blue one. Itâ€™s unfiltered and a little bitter due to the black tea. This beverage has gotten me through countless classes, has hung out at the schoolyard, and has gone on school trips, to sports day, and, finally, to my student pad. Today, I no longer drink it so often, but when I get back from a long stay abroad, I have to go to the nearest Migros store and buy myself a blue mini-carton of genuine ice tea. Together with a cervelat, good olâ€™ Swiss pork sausage, and a crunchy bread roll. And, if it just happens to be summer: that must-have chocolate bear popsicle.
I guess you could say that Migros products feel like a piece of home to me. Home and family. I like their straightforwardness, their unpretentiousness. The design isnâ€™t all slick and polished like that of a premium brand product â€“ and the content is reassuringly dependable. To me, the Migros products somehow represent â€œSwitzerlandâ€: not flashy, but tried and trusted.
Made for all of us in a way. For you and me.
OOPS NO, WAIT, WRONG...THATâ€™S COOPâ€™S CURRENT SLOGAN.
*an economy brand and a loyalty card, respectively
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Yonni Meyer (*1982) is a cognitive psychologist with research focuses in humor and forensic psychiatry. In 2013 she created a Facebook page called â€œPony M.â€ in which she regularly publishes humoristic texts on such topics as love, death and society.
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