The Stew

Lovers of root beer* surely will recognize this logo:


The Stewart’s Restaurant and root beer franchise is the perfect American symbol—it stands for good, fast American food, family picnics, ice cream sundaes. And its restaurants look like throwbacks to an earlier decade, when for the sake of argument and nostalgia, things were simpler.

Then there’s “Stewert’s root beer Restaurant” in New Brunswick, NJ. Notice the slight change in spelling, and the horrifically obvious attempt to bring in diners who see the classic “Stewart’s Root Beer” name and logo and just want to enjoy a little slice of their childhood, of their America.

Best yet, “Stewert’s” of New Brunswick, recently amended their storefront logo from an exact replica to this, ostensibly to avoid what has to be an imminent and easy lawsuit:

“Stew root beer—the next best thing.”

The advertising tactic of disguising an inferior or new brand as a much better, more established brand is done constantly (that I’ve noticed)—particularly with grocery products. Do I want “Cap’n Crunch” for $3.50 a box or “Berry Colossal Crunch” for $2 a bag? And do I want “Tide” laundry detergent for $10 a bottle or “Generic Grocery Store Brand” in the same color and bottle as “Tide” for $7?

You can look at it two ways. In one regard, we pay for and demand brands—Stewart’s, Cap’n Crunch, Tide—because we trust them so it doesn’t matter if an inferior brand is trying to trick us into buying their product. However, when it comes to mass-produced products and brands, is there much of a difference in quality between the established brand and the “knock-off?” Does it matter?

I know I’d have been upset if I paid for a Stewart’s experience and got the Stew.


*As a lover of root beer, Stewart’s is my every day brew. The best though is Barq’s, and there’s no debating that.


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