I first tried Max Brenner when it was just a shop in Paddington in Sydney. After that visit, I was surprised to discover that the chocolates I had bought were made in Israel. The presence of Israeli companies in Australia isn’t strong, and often obscured (the Australian Max Brenner website makes almost no mention of the Israeli connection)
In the following years, the company has expanded into a hot chocolate empire (although a chocolatier, in Australia the brand is known mainly as a place to have hot chocolate, and is extraordinarily popular for its overpriced chocolate foods, often with underripe strawberries). Extraooooordinarily popular, seemingly with a broad cross-section of consumers here.
Until, that is, you walk down the street past a Chocolateria San Churros (another overrated hot chocolate place, this time with disappointing sweet churros) and notice a different mix of consumers – many Indonesians and faces from across the Middle East, for instance, alongside the range of consumers you also see over at Max Brenner. At first I was just puzzled at the different faces, then the light went on. No surprise that the Muslim population (amongst others) might choose to avoid Max Brenner for political/social reasons.
Examples of this sort of consumer behaviour lie well below the radar for most Australians, quite simply because there a few examples of that sort of home-grown or home-sustained political/social polarisation. Sure, Melbourne’s Lebanese population is, I’m led to believe, quite clearly divided between north and east in their choice of shops, and perhaps the Croatians and Serbians refuse to enter each other’s shops too, but those are deep-rooted historical divisions.
I can only think of two locally nurtured discriminations, now quite old: (1) When I was a kid, I’m sure that my parents would have strongly discouraged me from frequenting, say, a South African shop (if such a thing had existed in Melbourne) because of their views on apartheid. (2) Severe antipathy between Catholics and Protestants in Australia lasting until the mid-20th Century presumably affected where people shopped/ate (as it did their employment, leisure and marriage options – here’s an interesting radio documentary).
This article was prompted by some news of anti-Israel political action in front of Max Brenner stores, and the contrary action of a former prime minister to deliberately have a hot chocolate there. I wonder what other examples readers know of where political or social beliefs (not basic broad racism, or a real religious requirement – kosher/halal/etc) specifically affect the shopping or dining habits of sections of the Australian population?
What about in other diverse communities?
Please AVOID political, religious or prejudiced OPINION here. I’m seeking objective commentary about how such opinions in communities shape people’s shopping/dining behaviour.