Friday, May 05, 2006

Happy Cinco De Drink Some Beer

American holidays can be divided into three categories: Gift Giving Holidays, Greeting Card Holidays, and Beer Drinking Holidays. Cinco de Mayo is definitely a beer drinking holiday. Based on an obscure Mexican-French battle, Americans have in a spirit of multi-culturalism taken the holiday as their own to tide them over through the long drought between St. Patrick's Day and Memorial Day.

Being of nominal Irish heritage (1/4 Irish on the patriarchal side), I've always wondered what they do to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day on the Old Sod, and I doubt it involves getting drunk on watery green beer. The real beer drinking holiday in Ireland is better known as Tuesday, or Thursday, and frequently Wednesday, Monday, and Saturday as well.

In some ways, I have a greater claim on Mexican heritage. I was born in the former Mexican territory of Texas. As a child, my mother used to call me Yellow Manuel Ortega Garcia Cortez McJacket. Also, I have been to Mexico way more times (well at least once) than I have ever been to Ireland. Perhaps, on Cinco De Mayo we are all a little Mexican.

I have never understood why vicious ethnic sterotypes of the Irish are allowed to persist, but those of other cultures are banned by the politically correct thought police. My favorite jingle as a kid was the Frito Bandito, a marketing mascot that was the brainchild of Tex Avery of Warner Brothers cartoon fame.

I would hum:
Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am the Frito Bandito.
I like Frito's Corn Chips,
I love them I do.
I want Frito's Corn Chips,
I'll get them from you.

The Frito Bandito, voiced by Mel Blanc, was a clever desperado that always managed to get his favorite snack. I collected all the pencil toppers that had the characters. And I don't even like Fritos. The power of marketing. He was discontinued out of fear he was unfair to the image of Mexican-Americans.

How is the Frito Bandito any more offensive than Lucky the Leprechaun? Lucky has a bad sterotypical accent, a pathological greed for an over-sugared consumer product, and series of badly animated cartoons that have ingrained the catch phrase "Magically Delicious" into the collective sub-concious of generations of cartoon-adled youth.

My knowledge of 19th century Mexican culture is based mostly on a recent viewing of The Magnifcent Seven, but I am sure there were Mexican bandits, freedom fighters, and folk heroes that really did wear the bandolier of bullets across their chest. Whether they lusted for excessively salty corn chips is lost to history. I am fairly certain that are no real leprechauns, and if there were, they would be a little more savvy at keeping their breakfast cereal away from the grubby punkass kids always trying to steal it. At least the Frito Bandito, unlike the mentally challenged Trix Rabbit, got what he craved.

Forgive my rant. There is never a bad reason to pop open a Tecate and squeeze some lime into it. So help me sing along:

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
Oh, I am the Frito Bandito.
Give me Frito Corn chips
And I'll be your friend.
The Frito Bandito
You must not offend.

And a have a happy and not too sober Cinco De Mayo.


Impetua said...

My brother (age 42) still sings the Frito Bandito song to me sometimes. We are also known to break into the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme occasionally. His becoming a card-carrying Mormon has thankfully had no effect on this tendency, although he will be celebrating Drinko de Mayo with a delicious frosty mug of caffeine-free root beer this year. :)

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Who didn't love the Frito Bandito? He was as much a part of my Saturday morning cartoon lineup as were the cartoons themselves. Aye!

Mooselet said...

I have to admit to drawing a complete blank at the Frito Bandito, and I feel ashamed. I do have total recall of the Trix Rabbit and that dumbass leprechaun Lucky, and that shames me as well.

Damn you yello, I can't win either way! :-)

Anonymous said...

I remember the Frito Bandito. For some odd reason, I also remember a promotion that Fritos had that involved getting a free pack of flower seeds with your bag of Fritos. I must have been in about first grade when they did that. The Bandito was part of the whole thing somehow

The flowers I got were Bachelor's Buttons. We were living in an apartment when this happened, so I don't really remember if we planted them.

That's all I've got. Hey, they can't all be great stories.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, my mother would buy Fritos, but never potato chips. The big potato chip commercial back in the day was "Lays--betcha can't eat just one!" and maybe that was too diabolical, or maybe Mom just didn't like potato chips. I never learned to like them, and these days I don't like Fritos either, although tortilla chips, well I can't eat just one of those.

And speaking of offensive, what about the Taco Bell chihuahua? Is he gone yet? (I'm not up to date on contemporary advertising)

Your Mother said...

We call it Cinco de Drinko. Yea, we're bad. And does anyone besides me wonder why it is a holiday here and not in Mexico?

2fs said...

Taking you too seriously for a few minutes here: "I have never understood why vicious ethnic sterotypes of the Irish are allowed to persist, but those of other cultures are banned by the politically correct thought police." Because Irish-Americans, with extremely rare exceptions, no longer suffer actual discrimination. Mexican-Americans, of course, still do. In other words, it's unlike that jokes that make fun of "Irish" characteristics would be taken as signifying actual or potential discrimination against actual people of Irish descent. The same is not true of jokes stereotyping groups that are discriminated against. It's also why only a few weirdo grumps get up in arms against negative portrayals of men in comedy, but far more do when it's women stereotypically and negatively portrayed.

But don't listen to me: I'm part Irish, it's Saturday night, so I'm obviously drunk.

(Tonight's secret code: xmfznp - "Ex-Mother Franz Zappa's nourishing potatoes.")

yellojkt said...

2fs has a point, but you don't have to go very far back to find "Irish Need Not Apply" signs. Italians suffer no real discrimination either, but every gangster movie or TV show draws some publicity seeking protest group.

Can you imagine someone marketing Sambo Ceral with little watermelon shaped/flavored marshmallows?

Don't get me started on the Notre Dame Drunken Micks, I mean Fighting Irish.