Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a deeply rooted tradition in Mexican culture. By now many people know what this celebration is about. Many big companies are seizing the opportunity and coming up with products for Dia de los Muertos. This is a second-year that Mattel is offering limited edition Dia de los Muertos Barbie. Kellogg’s is jumping on a bandwagon as well.
Recently, Kellogg’s launched a new cereal flavor called “Pan de Muerto”. Some stores already offer cereals like rollos de canela, churros , and now Pan de Muerto. In Pan de Muerto cereal Kellogg’s wants customers to see that they are using traditional ingredients of pan de muerto like orange blossom, butter, and vanilla by including these ingredients in the list. The boxes of this cereal are already available in some stores. While many are excited to check out this new product, others are not happy with it. Some do not understand the excitement for this type of product and others are very unhappy with big companies using other nation’s traditions to boost their sales. There are accusations of cultural appropriations, but it is too late for that. The cereals are already on the shelves in some stores.
Michael’s an Arts & Crafts national chain has shelves full of Day of the Dead decorations for sale at pretty steep prices, of course closer to the holiday these items would most likely be sold at big discounts. Even the Dollar stores want their slice of the Day of the Dead bread, pun intended (my apologies).
Consumers want a good product for a good price but what about cultural appropriation? Is it OK for big companies to profit from someone else’s cultural celebrations? How is that different from the commercialization of other “cultural” based celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo or Kwanza?
I try to balance how I support big chain products and small businesses that have sold these items for many years. I just bought a few drinking mugs with Day of the Dead decorations for gifts for only $1 each, but I know I will buy my Day of the Dead bread at our local Mexican store and my Tamales and Atole at a local Mercado.
At the end of the day customers will decide whether a product like Kellogg’s Pan de Muerto cereal is a hit or a bust kind of product.
Tell us how you feel about these products?