We Are Family
We Are Family
Ethnic Food Marketing and the Consumption of Authenticity in Italian-Themed Chain Restaurants
By deconstructing advertisements and décor from Italian-themed chain restaurants, such as Maggiano’s Little Italy, Bertucci’s, and Olive Garden, the chapter proposes that “eating the Italian other” today in these Italian-themed environments accounts for the consumption of a hyperreal simulacrum of Italian American life. In the chain restaurants the chapter analyzes authenticity is a “product”—a company strategy carefully crafted with the methodology of postmodern pastiche. These establishments refer to traditions from Italy, its past, and the nostalgia it often elicits to promote a recognizable brand to large audiences and market a specific aspect of contemporary American popular culture: casual dining chain restaurants. The Italian American culinary heritage is invented—or at least recreated—and charged with relevant emotional and symbolic connotations as a marketable experience to respond to contemporary preferences and imaginations.
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