Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cherries Aplenty

I restrained myself this week from going overboard in buying fruit at the RTM. All I purchased was a quart of pie cherries, a pint each of sweet red and sweet Rainier cherries, a pint of blueberries, bananas and limes. That should hold me 'til Tuesday afternoon's farmers market at South & Passyunk. (BTW, last week's cherries went into a delicious sorbet; this week they're bound for a cobbler.)

Fair Food featured sweet red Summit cherries and yellow/red Rainiers for $4.50 and $4.75 a pint, respectively. Over at Benuel Kaufman's the reds and Queen Annes were $3.95, pie cherries $2.95 per pint, strawberries $5.95/quart. (Ben's black raspberries were gone by 10:30 a.m.) Earl Livengood's pints were priced at $2.95 for sours and $3.75 for sweet reds. Blueberries were $4.50/pint, red raspberries $3.95, strawberries $3.75. L. Halteman's sweet cherries sold for $3.19 while strawberries were $4.39/quart.

Benuel Kaufman also had the elongated red beets I love. I find them even sweeter than the most round beets. And Earl Livengood featured Lancaster County corn; seems early by a couple of weeks to me, but I couldn't resist.

Time for lime sorbet, margaritas or limeade. Iovine has nice, heavy juicy limes for a dime apiece; lemons are still a relatively pricey 25 cents. Hass avocados $1.49 each. Deals can be had on eggplant (two pounds for a buck) and kirby cucumbers ($1 a pound).

Copper River sockeye still available at John Yi at $12.95; Alaskan king for $17.99.

Here's my abbreviated shopping list for today:

Juice oranges


Sour cherries
Sweet red cherries

Queen Anne cherries

Hanger steak

* * * * *

Coke Backs Off

I spoke with two Coke reps this week (neither of whom wanted to be identified in any way shape or form) who confirmed that while Coke did plan to make the push I outlined, when they learned of RTM management's objections, they canned their plans. They still hope to do sandwich-and-drink type promotions with individual merchants, and will continue to supply refrigerated cases and beverage dispensers with their logo, but you won't find the Coke logo or representations of the classic bottle plastered all over the RTM. (One idea they proposed, and was shot down by the RTM, was to put new seat cushions on the the stools at Golden Bowl, Carmen's and perhaps other eateries in which a silhouette of a coke bottle would appear. Nothing like shoving a bottle up your . . . )

I made my calls to Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Monday and Wednesday. Funny, but later RTM Manager Paul Steinke got a call from the bottler's president assuring him that Coke will abide by his wishes and refrain from the more visible push. I'm guessing my inquiry drew their attention to Paul's publicly posting his newsletter to merchants.

Let it not be said that Coke isn't sensitive to the preferences of their various markets. They wouldn't have become as successful a company as they are otherwise.

BTW, don't write, call or e-mail Coca-Cola Enterprises on this issue. It turns out that while CCE does own a number of bottling companies, the Philadelphia company (formerly a minority-owned business in which Julius Erving was initially involved and was led by J. Bruce Llewellyn) is not one of them. The local bottler was sold to the parent Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta (the syrup maker). They apparently have shifted strategic direction and seek to have greater control over their products so are now acquiring bottlers. For the parent company's Bottlers Investment Group, formed in 2006 to bring company-owned bottling units under a single coordinated management, Philadelphia Coke is its first major bottling acquisition in the US (most of their bottlers are overseas) and they are using it as a test, with strenuous multiple marketing efforts.

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