Subscribe to The Horn Book

Feeling mighty lonesome, haven’t slept a wink

On my desk this morning.

Spurred by Globe columnist Devra First’s thoughts, Boston is a-bubble with discussion about whether it is ethically okay to buy Peet’s coffee, given the company’s Nazi history. The column specifically references, as the columnist’s favorite, Major Dickason’s Blend, which to my ears has always sounded ineffably colonial to begin with. If I were in a culturally appropriative mood I might call this karma.

I drink Peet’s every workday (because their outpost at Mass Art has the best muffins in the neighborhood) and plan to continue so, but I respect the question. It’s a variant of those we’ve been asking a lot about children’s books and history, identity, and oppression: who has author A harmed in the past? Does book B harm children in the present? Etc. I do like this comment First solicited from philosophy professor Nir Eisikovits: “You stop drinking the coffee, you stop listening to Wagner, you stop reading Dostoevsky, Kant, and everything he contributed to the canon because he was a crazy racist. On the force of the moral argument, you can move from coffee to Dostoevsky pretty quickly.” And people do!

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Share

Comments

  1. Roger, I agree with you about books and their allegedly direct cause of harm to children. Thanks for reminding readers about that! As for Peet’s, they also own Krispy Kreme, ironically one of the most popular kosher doughnut brands. The original owners were early and enthusiastic Nazis and they escaped any consequences after the War. However, the current company has apologized, undertaken their own investigation, and donated money to an appropriate cause in partial compensation. So their origins as purveyors of antisemitism, as well as coffee, are more direct than Wagner’s, but they have acknowledged the past and taken responsibility. I think you can continue to enjoy their coffee.

  2. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    When I was at Peet’s this morning I asked the two young baristas if they had an opinion about the controversy. They had not heard about it, and when I briefly summarized the argument (Nazi money) they looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*