September 17, 2007
Beaners Tries to
Clean Its Name to be Spic ’n’ Span
Do you know what a
beaner is? Someone from Boston? Someone who cans baked beans? Someone
who grinds coffee?
I have always tended
to associate the term with the latter definition because, in my town,
there is a chain known as Beaners Coffee, where more than a few of these
columns have been written.
But Beaners Coffee
is no more.
Apparently, the word
“beaner,” unbeknownst to Beaners Coffee owner Bob Fish, is a racial slur
considered offensive to Hispanics, especially Mexicans. The Grand
Rapids Press explains, if this is what you call an explanation:
The term "beaner"
refers to the variety and amount (sic) of beans used in Mexican dishes
and is regarded as a slur to describe people of Hispanic descent.
So let me see if I
have this straight: The word “beaner” as a term to describe Mexican
dishes is akin to, say, the word “rich” in describing an Italian’s
signature alfredo sauce, which might be another way of saying, “All
dagos are in the Mafia!”
I see. No I don’t.
because obviously no one could figure this out, that the name Beaners is
intended to refer to – I . . . will . . . type . . . slowly . . . so . .
. you . . . can . . . understand – coffee beans. Apparently,
coffee is made from beans of some sort.
So who complained?
Fish says he did not receive any particular boycott threat or anything
of that nature, but has heard a stream of people over the years mention
to him that the word “beaner” is considered a slur.
Now this is not good
news for MicDonald’s. I’d better not catch you cleaning your
house with Spic ‘n’ Span. Did you know you can finish your log home with
And what will become
of Black & Decker?
Beaners Coffee will
henceforth be known as Biggby’s Coffee. I do not know why. I can
understand why Mr. Fish is not going to call his chain Fish Coffee,
although to do so brings back fond memories of a fabulous “Twin Peaks”
episode. (“You’d never guess!” says Pete Martell. “There was a fish
in the percolator!”)
I wonder if it has
occurred to Bob Fish that the apparent slur that is the word “beaner”
has gotten tremendous publicity among those who were not even aware of
it as a result of his decision.
Did you know about
this slur? I didn’t. I have Mexican friends. OK. Two Mexican friends.
One is six-foot-72 and is about 900 pounds of pure muscle. I think I may
call him up and tell him he’s a beaner, and just see what happens.
Don’t blame me! I
saw it in the Grand Rapids Press! How bad can it be?
We Krauses are sour
krauts, and I suppose if anyone walked up to me and called me that, I
would have to stop and think what it even means, since the whole idea of
the ethnic slur in common language seems to have faded into oblivion
around the time Archie Bunker let loose with all of them on prime time
television – and they sort of lost their sting.
These days, anyone
who shudders at the utterance of a word, particularly one from the mouth
of a big enough buffoon to actually mean it, really needs to get a grip.
Until today, a beaner was someone who charged me too much for a cup of
coffee. Now it means something it never would have even occurred to me
You’d never guess.
There was a slur in the percolator!
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