So sayeth the press release, announcing that “Fabio Viviani will act as American spokesperson for Italy’s number one selling frozen pizza,” Dr. Oetker’s “Ristorante” brand. Now, possums, we have no shame in admitting that we had never before heard of that undoubtedly storied Italian, Dr. Oetker, so we turned to the Internet.
According to Wikipedia, Dr. Oetker is a German company founded in 1891 by the eponymous Herrdoktor, who chose Nazi Party member Richard Kaselowsky as company leader in 1920. “In 1937, the company received the title of Nationalsozialistischer Musterbetrieb, or national-socialist model company, by the German Labour Front…. The company participates in the Forced/Slave Labor Compensation Fund, an organization of German industries taking responsibility for slave labour during the Second World War.”
It cannot be said strongly enough, however, that none of this is unique to Dr. Oetker as a company. After all, other highly reputable modern brands have Nazi associations in their corporate pasts. For example, historian Neil Gregor wrote a book on Daimler-Benz that found “a close association between the car manufacturer and the Nazi system” and established that “the company acquiesced in the exploitation of forced labor.” And yet no one has a problem buying a Merc, and in 1998 Daimler-Benz merged with the All-American Chrysler Corporation.
Nowadays, Dr. Oetker is apparently a multinational corporation with a good reputation in corporate responsibility and environmental matters. And somehow frozen pizza is now part of the empire, however odd it seems. Indeed, the German television ad below reflects that cognitive dissonance.
The Fabio “will participate in a five-city media tour this summer to introduce the favorite brand of thin-crust pizza lovers throughout Europe and Canada to consumers in the northeastern United States.” So if you live in the Northeast, you know what to look for, possums.