What's the word? June 25, 2016 5:08 PM   Subscribe

What's that word for the first time you experience something new and it reminds you of an imitation of itself? I know I learned this from here at some point, and searching the internet isn't quite doing the trick!

Like for example if you were to taste a certain kind of banana for the first time and it reminded you of tri-flow.

Or if a kid were to hear a land line telephone ring for the first time and it reminded them of their ringtone on their cell phone.

etc.
posted by aniola to MetaFilter-Related at 5:08 PM (93 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

"The Welsh have a word for this feeling. The word is "hiraeth". It means a longing for a home you can never return to, a home which may never have existed at all." More on hiraeth: "It’s an unattainable longing for a place, a person, a figure, even a national history that may never have actually existed. To feel hiraeth is to feel a deep incompleteness and recognize it as familiar."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:13 PM on June 25, 2016 [15 favorites]


That's a good word, but it's not the word.
posted by aniola at 5:47 PM on June 25, 2016


You're not thinking of deja vu, are you?
posted by phunniemee at 6:00 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


nope
posted by aniola at 6:06 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The word I keep trying to make it be is "retronym" and it's not that, either.
posted by aniola at 6:08 PM on June 25, 2016


I keep thinking about skeuomorphs, but that's probably not it.
posted by duffell at 6:08 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Simulacrum?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:34 PM on June 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


(I mean, that's not the word for the thing you're looking for, but it's the word for part of it.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:35 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Was this supposed to go in AskMeFi?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:52 PM on June 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


Synchronicity?
posted by Oyéah at 6:52 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


jamais vu
posted by poffin boffin at 8:10 PM on June 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


But the key is the instantaneous (mis)identification of the simulation of the thing as the thing itself, right? Going directly to the fauxppelganger?
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:26 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Baader Meinhof effect
posted by unknowncommand at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok so if a simulacrum is something that replaces reality with its representation, I'm looking for something that replaces a simulacrum with the original that it was imitating. So, like the opposite of simulacrum?

I thought it came from the blue, I don't know if the word simulacrum was originally involved or not, I just remember learning that there existed a word for this concept. I guess it could have been elsewhere, but for some reason I think blue?
posted by aniola at 9:06 PM on June 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


i don't see it here, but it's pretty cool and might help.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:12 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why isn't this on Ask?

Shit be goin all nutty
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:26 PM on June 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I imagine it's on MeTa because she remembers learning it here, so it's a 'can someone find this old MeFi comment for me?' question.

I feel like I read the comment you're talking about, and it might have been in the context of having seen all the movies that are derivative of Star Wars, and then seeing actual Star Wars for the first time.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:40 PM on June 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


honestly who even cares it's basically the end times right now anyway

asks on meta, metas on ask, let's all just self link fpps until we die historic on the fury road
posted by poffin boffin at 10:48 PM on June 25, 2016 [50 favorites]


This would so be chatfilter on the green.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 PM on June 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


If it was from a Star Wars thread there would be a decent chance it's from the thread where people were talking about the new strong female character, which I can't find either.
posted by aniola at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2016


Just here to say yes, I also remember learning this from Metafilter; no, I do not know what the term is, and now if I re-learn the term I will forever associate it with the feeling of learning things on Metafilter.
posted by sockermom at 11:41 PM on June 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


Just to clarify quickly: Asking something along the lines of "what was this Metafilter comment / thread I can't find?" is a question about the site, and goes in MetaTalk, while something like "what is this term I read about somewhere?" goes in Ask Metafilter.

It can definitely be a pretty fine distinction, but I'd say if you want to get the eyes of the people who pay the most attention to Mefi, and you feel pretty sure it was posted here, MetaTalk will most likely get you your answer. If you *might* have read it here, but aren't sure, probably better to get suggestions from the wider range of people on Ask Metafilter.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:31 AM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


mimesis?
posted by b33j at 2:53 AM on June 26, 2016


I remember once tasting a new-to-me variety of orange and thinking, "Ah! This is what artificial orange flavor is trying for." Unfortunately, I've forgotten the variety. Possibly blood orange.

Sorry, can't help with the word.
posted by Bruce H. at 3:37 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hyperreality?
posted by Grangousier at 3:47 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the cultural osmosis discussion?
posted by maxsparber at 5:01 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's the Star Wars/TFA post on FanFare.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:58 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ersatz? Adaptation displacement? (That one via maxsparber's comment, to TVTropes on Weird Al, to that page.) Umberto Eco on hyperreality (.pdf).

The first time I made my own grape jelly, the first bite called to mind the purple lollipops that bank tellers used to give me when I went along to the bank with my parents. The real thing tasted just like the copy, but my immediate association was with the ersatz flavor. As Proustian moments go, it was frankly sort of a letdown.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:17 AM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh Wow!

Do you mean it's like: when you finally get to the rim of the Grand Canyon, standing exactly where the photographer stood when he took the picture on the postcard you hold in your hand, and you realize that the awe you felt when you saw the picture was boxed in by several layers of reduction: oh, Wow!--this may be the word, but it's heavily contextual.
posted by mule98J at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


If it's from a Star Wars thread, that's probably the one.
posted by aniola at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2016


It's amazing how many words and concepts there are that so many of these can all be close and yet not have exactly the same kind of precision as word I learned about. I think.
posted by aniola at 8:35 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the word is, but I look forward to hearing how it felt when you found it anew.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2016 [16 favorites]


Is this a real word, in the sense that it's in the dictionary and we might reasonably be expected to know it, or is it one of those cute oughta-be-a-word things that people keep coming up with? Not judging, the latter can be fun, but it might be helpful to know in order to narrow down the possibilities.
posted by languagehat at 9:17 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do you mean it's like: when you finally get to the rim of the Grand Canyon, standing exactly where the photographer stood when he took the picture on the postcard you hold in your hand, and you realize that the awe you felt when you saw the picture was boxed in by several layers of reduction: oh, Wow!--this may be the word, but it's heavily contextual.

I read it as the opposite. Like, when you grow up with the simulacrum/child/inspiree of some original thing, and then you finally encounter the original and can only understand it in the context of the one you knew first.

I get that sensation with a lot of music, because I never listened to the radio as a kid, only to my parents' eclectic set of CDs, so my introduction to many musicians (Michael Jackson, Nirvana, that American Pie guy) was through Weird Al. I grew up assuming most songwriters just wrote emotional songs about broadly diverse topics, and when I grew up to realize that very few lyricists tackle a broader range than "I hate society, and love fuckin'", I decided to mostly stick to my Weird Al universe. To this day, "Here's Johnny" makes me think fondly of the first girl I ever had a crush on, and is the soundtrack in my head that scores love in its purest and most puppydog form; I still don't know the song it was based on.

On an even less forgivable front: I heard the Microsoft Songsmith cover of "Roxanne" years before I heard the original, and so liked the arrangement that I listened to it frequently enough to know it by heart. Eventually I heard the original Roxanne, and, even KNOWING it was the original, couldn't help but think: "God, what a weird interpretation of that song."
posted by rorgy at 9:25 AM on June 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


simuledysphonia?
posted by sammyo at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2016


Synesthesia ? On second thought, no. Oh, well, carry on...
posted by y2karl at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2016


As a young fan of The Simpsons in the early/mid 1990s, this happened to me constantly as I got older and began to watch classic American films like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 3:59 PM on June 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


prize bull octorok: "This is the kind of thing one allows oneself to believe when one hasn't actually watched the prequels in years and mostly remembers the lightsaber fights from out-of-context gifs." No specific word there, but it may be the thing that's ringing a bell from the Star Wars/TFA post?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:05 PM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


We should invent our own word for this and then years & years from now when ours is prevelant in the world folks will rediscover the original word we were trying to think of and consider it an imitation of our concept & it will be so so so sweet also dogs will rule the earth in the scenario, people are slaves, & cats live in the earths core.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:26 PM on June 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


tronc?
posted by Kabanos at 5:49 PM on June 26, 2016 [21 favorites]


The Hitchcock Recurrence: When my then-spouse first watched a bunch of Hitchcock movies with me, their reaction was "Oh, I have seen these -- they just weren't Hitchcock movies when I saw them."
posted by Etrigan at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Mnemonic depoupage.

The star wars thing has a remote twinge of place and longing, for example: Luke's contemplating his future will shutting down power converters at a Tunsian sunset.

And John Williams is there, with you, like an old friend.
posted by clavdivs at 7:47 PM on June 26, 2016


aniola, I wonder whether you perhaps read "The Pitch Meeting for Animaniacs" on The Toast and/or the FPP about it here. The sensation you described is a central point:
EXEC #2: You’re saying that ten years from now, a young person will watch The Godfather or read Freud for the first time and realize that the Viennese shrink archetype in their minds was actually from Animaniacs all along? And the mumbling mafia don and the plot of Les Miserables and the fall of the Tsars? That the show will act as a sort of contextual membrane through which kids absorb quintessential images that will one day render direct source material more accessible, and that the cultural déjà vu they experience when they encounter said material will recur throughout their adult lives?
posted by Songdog at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


I imagine it's on MeTa because she remembers learning it here, so it's a 'can someone find this old MeFi comment for me?' question.

it's on meta so we can get the word and it will be just right then someone will find the original post and it will be nothing like that and everyone will go

ah
posted by Sebmojo at 9:01 PM on June 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, I'm a huge fan of this idea. How obscurely recursive.

Songdog, that's the right concept but I didn't read that thread, and I don't think it was just a variation on deja vu. Though at this point if we ever find it, it might feel like some variation or other on *vu.

...

It's "The Hitchcock Recurrence." The comment is shaped right and it has that sense of familiarness to it.

Wow. That was a rusty memory! Thanks so much for all the detective work, y'all!
posted by aniola at 9:44 PM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed now that there's not actually a word in the common lexicon.
posted by aniola at 10:17 PM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


So it was not deja woo

good to know.


The first time every morning I experience my new morning face in the mirror, it reminds me of an imitation of my former self, btw. It's the Pre-coffee Recurrence as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Namlit at 11:05 PM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I imagine it's on MeTa because she remembers learning it here, so it's a 'can someone find this old MeFi comment for me?' question.

MeTa: The Dictionary of Obscure MeFi Memories.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:21 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time every morning I experience my new morning face in the mirror, it reminds me of an imitation of my former self...

Any time I experience mine, the same question comes to mind: WHAT HAPPENED !!!?
posted by y2karl at 5:28 AM on June 27, 2016


MeTa: The Dictionary of Obscure MeFi Memories.

We're all a bunch of unpaid amateur hypertext reference librarians.

Actually, quite a few people here are professionals. But none of them are paid for this. Not any more.
posted by Songdog at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Déjà entendu?
posted by I-baLL at 7:51 AM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have had the same relationship with pop music history that rorgy mentions: my introduction to classic pop and rock hits being mediated by prior exposure from Weird Al parodies and polka medleys, hearing the originals only years later as I moved from childhood into adulthood and carrying around a quiet gut insistence that e.g. Smoke On The Water is about 200 bpm and involves an accordion.

I've had the same thing again more recently with a couple of Girl Talk albums that drew material from a lot of hip hop I hadn't really listened to; in the years since I've caught up a bit more broadly on my pop listening and had a lot of "oh hey, no, that's not right, the vox are correct but this is where the Brian May riff is supposed to come in and oh riiiiiiiiiiight" moments.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


I see we've found the word/expression needed. I would like to suggest that the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows might also be worth a look for words that capture weird states. (does not contain real words, but some of them should be).
posted by nubs at 8:51 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know. But here are two examples from my life:

1. When I visited the campus of Stanford, I didn't like it. In part this was because the whole campus smelled like Raid (the bug killing spray). Turns out there's some flower that grows down there and they add the smell of the flower, to Raid, supposedly to make it smell good, but since as far as I'm concerned it's the spray of bug killer, I think it stinks. Maybe if you've lived in that part of California you think Raid smells nice, like flowers. I don't know.

2. The first time I visited England (well actually, I've only been once), but anyway...The whole thing was like a parody of itself. I mean I swear it looked just like an episode of Mr. Bean. I think on some level I thought Mr. Bean was just playing up all the british-y stuff to make itself look all over-the-top absurdly British. I remember saying to my cousin whom I was visiting "I can't believe it actually looks like this. I thought they just did that for TV." His wife (who is British) said that's the way she felt the first time she went to North America, too.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


my introduction to classic pop and rock hits being mediated by prior exposure from Weird Al parodies and polka medleys, hearing the originals only years later as I moved from childhood into adulthood and carrying around a quiet gut insistence that e.g. Smoke On The Water is about 200 bpm and involves an accordion

That is exactly my experience as well; being (I suspect) slightly older there's also a lot of gut feelings that many hit songs of the '80s should be sung at double the pitch that I'm hearing them at.

I still sing "Yoda" whenever Rod Stewart comes on the radio. I don't even know the words to Lola. But I can pop out "I met her in a swamp down in Dag-o-bah..." at a moment's notice.
posted by Shepherd at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


1. When I visited the campus of Stanford, I didn't like it. In part this was because the whole campus smelled like Raid (the bug killing spray). Turns out there's some flower that grows down there and they add the smell of the flower, to Raid, supposedly to make it smell good, but since as far as I'm concerned it's the spray of bug killer, I think it stinks. Maybe if you've lived in that part of California you think Raid smells nice, like flowers. I don't know.

Chrysanthemums? Raid is a synthetic pyrethroid; pyrethroids are found naturally in chrysanthemums. The smell isn't added to make it smell nice; the smell is the poison itself.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Huh...interesting. So Stanford really does stink?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:33 AM on June 27, 2016


Well, they rejected my college application, so
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:57 AM on June 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


Was it the mondegreen?
posted by Oyéah at 11:44 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hyposmia.
posted by Oyéah at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2016


I still sing "Yoda" whenever Rod Stewart comes on the radio.

Unless Rod Stewart did his own version, "Lola" was by the Kinks.

I had a 70s version of this, in that my first memory of many songs was the disco parody version. Like the Star Wars theme (pew pew! pew!). I also had Hooked on Classics, which disco-fied classical music.

I do still prefer Al's version of Hey Joe. It's so perky.

Al, meanwhile, was actually riffing on a riff when he did "Polkas on 45," because Stars on 45 was a medley (that's what they used to call mashups, kids!) novelty act in the 70s.

Stars on 45 messed me up as a child in that I came to understand that there were songs, and medleys of songs, and so when I listened to "Band on the Run" I kept trying to find the whole songs that those fragments came from. Because obviously that was a medley too.
posted by emjaybee at 1:35 PM on June 27, 2016


> Here are two examples from my life:
1. When I visited the campus of Stanford, I didn't like it. In part this was because the whole campus smelled like Raid (the bug killing spray).


Ohhhh - I'd never had root beer before grad school in the US, and the first time I tried it, I spat it out in disgust because it brought back nauseating memories of cough syrup I'd been dosed with as a child. Who knew that the flavor in our cough syrup was based on root beer? Huh.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:09 PM on June 27, 2016


Now that's interesting. The Root Beer Recurrence.
Because, growing up in Germany, I, too, didn't know Root beer. Now my dad once bought some weird newfangled toothpaste which we never bought again because of its weird taste. Years later I got on an exchange to the US and was given the real thing, my first reaction was totally, OH THAT TOOTHPASTE AGAIN.
posted by Namlit at 2:26 PM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


you had root beer flavoured toothpaste?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:29 PM on June 27, 2016


Capital!
posted by clavdivs at 3:00 PM on June 27, 2016


yeah, something along those lines...
posted by Namlit at 3:20 PM on June 27, 2016


The root in root beer is sassafras (it's synthetic these days as sassafras root is a carcinogen and liver-destroyer). It just tastes...sweet? I dunno, I can't imagine anyone being disgusted by its flavour, but literally every German person I've ever met -- and it's only ever been Germans! -- has been completely grossed out by it.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2016


File gumbo comes from sassafrass leaves. Only the root is carcenogenic. I chewed a few of those as a kid. We made "Indian toothbrushes" out of sassafrass roots.
posted by Oyéah at 5:04 PM on June 27, 2016


File doesn't taste anything like rootbeer, it should be noted.
posted by Sara C. at 5:15 PM on June 27, 2016


My god, horehound beer!
posted by clavdivs at 5:42 PM on June 27, 2016


The leaves of sassafrass are very different in flavor from the root.
posted by Oyéah at 8:11 PM on June 27, 2016


A thing this has happened to me a lot with is Bugs Bunny cartoons. Bugs Bunny was a deeply referential cartoon, yet I watched it, as a kid, as pure slapstick, with absolutely no idea what was being lampooned or why. My entire life has been a retroactive discovery of 20th century history, media production, and pop culture that suddenly makes Bugs Bunny jokes make utter and complete sense on an entirely separate level that depends upon knowing the context to which they were initially reacting. This kind of thing is what makes cultural history the most fun.
posted by Miko at 8:45 PM on June 27, 2016 [10 favorites]




I dunno, I can't imagine anyone being disgusted by its flavour, but literally every German person I've ever met -- and it's only ever been Germans! -- has been completely grossed out by it.

The flavor does not appear to travel: I have gotten the impression it is not popular in Japan either.

Here in Seattle, we can get a pint of Root Beer ice cream made by Whidbey Island Ice Cream. Which is utterly fabulous.
posted by y2karl at 9:10 AM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you used Root Beer ice cream to make a Root Beer float, would some sort of Inception-like event occur?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:12 AM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


...just for the statistics: I am German and I like Root Beer fine...
posted by Namlit at 9:21 AM on June 28, 2016


Oh, it's good to know others have the "Weird Al first" thing going on. I know "Eat It" and "Fat" off the top of my head, couldn't tell you the original MJ lyrics if my life depended on it. Same with "Jurassic Park" and "Like a Surgeon" and "Think I'm a Clone Now" and a dozen others.

Seem to remember a lot of 5th grade recesses were spent inside listening to Weird Al and rockin' out.
posted by curious nu at 10:16 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just remembered the word.

The bird.

The bird is the word.
posted by Kabanos at 9:23 PM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Uncanny. In the more strict sense of the German unheimlich.
posted by cosmologinaut at 10:48 PM on June 29, 2016


I spat it out in disgust because it brought back nauseating memories of cough syrup I'd been dosed with as a child.

Yep. Having grown up in the UK, I hadn't had opportunity to try root beer until a trip to Boston (US) fairly recently. I found it really disgusting -- a strong medicinal taste with a slightly weird underlying sweetness. I wouldn't have said cough syrup, but definitely some kind of medicine. My French friend on whom I managed to foist some of the bottle agreed. Just awful.

Mind you, many years ago I knew a 70ish year old woman who couldn't abide the smell of whisky because, as a child, she'd always had it prescribed to her to treat coughs and colds. Whereas all Right Thinking People know that good whisky is actually the best of all possible smells. So maybe I'm missing out on the root beer?
posted by metaBugs at 1:35 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


it all depends on the
frosty mug.

'Something new/imitation of itself.'
Archery.
posted by clavdivs at 6:35 AM on June 30, 2016


Wow everything I know about pop culture from the 40s & 50s comes from Loony Tunes. I've never seen a Humphrey bogart or Peter Lorre movie , but I "know" how to imitate them from Buggs Bunny
posted by wester at 5:40 PM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


This made me think of Capgras syndrome, which is basically the same but with people, which took me to delusional misidentification syndrome which kind of fits the bill but is too general... Is it reduplicative paramnesia?

Or maybe you were you looking for something that doesn't require extensive brain damage :P
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 11:12 AM on July 1, 2016


MetaFilter: the smell is the poison itself.
posted by Splunge at 12:16 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know how "fruit"-flavored candies don't taste anything like the fruits they supposedly represent? Jolly Ranchers don't taste like watermelons. Banana-flavored candies don't taste anything like bananas. And so on. I had always assumed that a bunch of chemists got together and assigned fruit names to purely chemical concoctions for marketing purposes.

Same with grape candy. Then one day I had a certain kind of grape (not sure what kind—tiny and purple) and it tasted exactly like grape candy, and my world was turned upside down.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I propose "Urgänger," by contrast with Doppelgänger, with the caveat that I do not speak German and therefore am probably butchering the language horribly.
posted by biogeo at 4:10 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


jacquilynne: Use root beer ice cream and cream soda. It's the equivalent of dividing by zero and being Benjamin Button
posted by meemzi at 5:07 PM on July 3, 2016


I had the "Weird Al effect" but with Sesame Street, i.e. I heard their rendition of "Letter B" before I heard the Beatles' rendition of "Let it Be." It took a long time for the Beatles version to sound normal.

Also, I saw "Casablanca" at age 30, 15 years ago, and laughed through the whole thing because I had seen so many homages and parodies ("Play it again, Sam! We'll always have Paris!") that it was completely impossible to take the original seriously.
posted by mmoncur at 1:49 AM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Proust's Madeleine feeling?
posted by nims at 6:13 AM on July 6, 2016


..."Urgänger," by contrast with Doppelgänger, with the caveat that...


Yeah that's, ummm...
posted by Namlit at 11:03 PM on July 6, 2016


Namlit thank you for instigating the root beer subtext! it's uncanny.

every. single. one. of my German friends were basically like "ugh schmeckt wie Zahnpasta!" QFT!!!
(maybe it's the wintergreen component?)
posted by dorian at 12:37 AM on July 11, 2016


Yeah, well, not sure about wintergreen specifically, but it sure is some (vague hand wave) Chemical-Flavors-Factory component, not likely actual Sassafras root (although the taste is unknown in German foodstuff). Giving your German friends some small-batch-brewn cane-sugar froufrou root beer may help to get that straightened out.

Then again, some tastes-we-grew-up-with will never catch on for other people, artificial or real. Take peanut butter...they tell me it was quite common in German American zones directly after the war, but then forgotten. My classmates, upon hitting 'Murican shores in '76, were all like 'heck what is this sticky stuff' (not me: my parents always bought peanut butter, although it was pretty hard to get when I grew up).
Those were the 70s, when a nutella-like chocolate paste with peanuts instead of hazelnuts was introduced to the West-German market and didn't make it through it's first year. I mean, wut, right?
Take, on the other hand, Concord grapes. To me, even the real thing tastes artificial.

So anyway, it's definitely "the German root beer effect." Question answered.
posted by Namlit at 4:36 AM on July 11, 2016


I thought Sassafras was more of a fennel type flavor? much as I love root beer, I've still never really found a satisfying one (A&W may be the closest lol, but that could, in the original spirit of this thread, almost entirely be chalked up to childhood nostalgia - Frank 'n' Stein!!!) - so many of the "artisanal" ones *do* also use wintergreen (or the equivalent) and I find it really unpleasant. so I don't try with root beer anymore, but I do try to force this ginger beer upon people. (heck with Reed's, even their "extra ginger" flavor is still basically a flavorless soda for children. but AJ Stephans has some truly vicious delicious bite and aroma. sadly none of their other flavors seem to be available locally, I'd love to try all of them esp. the root beer.)

the Germans/Swiss/Austrians I know, all seem to be radically divided on the subject of peanut butter. I guess it may depend on if they were first exposed to one of the sugar-laden ones. I suppose a reverse-analogue might be things like Lebkuchen or Marzipan?

Concord grapes - hmm, we had actual vines when I was a kid. but somehow, having store-bought jam, always made me feel like the fresh fruit from the vines tasted synthetic. so, yes, I totally get that.

I had a very strange association come to me a couple years ago - I'd come across a recipe for roti/parantha that only involved: atta (flour), methi (fenugreek leaves) and... mashed banana. no oil or anything else necessary (it's really quite surprisingly delicious and easy and you don't quite taste the banana, just some sweetness) - so the odd association was that it somehow immediately brought to mind a bizarre side-dish that was quite popular in HH suburbs in the 90s: bananas wrapped in ham and shallow-fried. you crazy Germans!!! (but it actually kinda grew on me...)
posted by dorian at 6:06 AM on July 11, 2016


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