Subtitles sometimes come out on top


March 10, 2020

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  • Diners crave a Korean dish that doesn’t exist
  • A spring water feud has Nestlé pissed
  • A rookie baseball bat biz swung and… there’s a twist
They Paid How Much?

The noodles from ‘Parasite’ are stirring up a craze

The noodle dish from Parasite is going high-end. A slew of restaurants across New York and DC are spooning out bowls of ram-don, hoping to cash in on the meal requested by the wealthy Park family toward the climax of the Oscar-winning film.

But the restaurants are attaching hefty price tags to what is typically a very cheap dish. In New York, menu prices range from $13.95 to $25, and according to NBC News, almost every person ordering fancy ram-don has one thing in common: They’re white. 

So what exactly is ram-don?

If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry. The film’s subtitle translator, Darcy Paquet, invented the term — meant as a mashup of “ramen” and “udon” — for the subtitles of Parasite

In Korea, the noodle dish is called jjapaguri, and it blends 2 widely available instant-noodle brands, Chapagetti and Neoguri.

Meaning: It’s extremely cheap to buy and make. In the film, the Park family requests jjapaguri with steak on top, unaware of the contradiction between instant noodles and premium meat.

But ram-don enthusiasts might have missed the punchline 

With some white Americans ponying up $25 for an instant-noodle dish, Parasite director Bong Joon Ho — who has already pointed out that the US isn’t the best at reading at the movies — once again gets the last laugh. 

In fairness, the chefs whipping up fancy ram-don note that the steak and homemade broth are driving up the price. But still, you can buy the instant noodles in jjapaguri for less than 50¢ per ounce.

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So Thirsty

In Florida, a fight over bottled water makes a big splash

Water might be our planet’s most precious commodity. So it’s no wonder that when communities fight corporations over control of the aqua supply, someone’s bound to get wet.

In Florida, 1 of these water fights is getting heated: A local family’s company is seeking a permit to increase by 4x the amount of water that’s pumped from a recreational spring to a nearby bottling plant.

The request unleashed a gusher of controversy

Seven Springs Water Company, created by Florida’s Wray family, has been selling sweet, sweet H2O to bottlers like Nestlé since the ’90s. 

It’s big business for both parties: From 2003 to 2008, the family received monthly payments for the water that added up to almost $5m. Nestlé’s water brands did $4.5B in sales last year.

But some people are thirsty for Nestlé to take a hike

Namely: Environmentalists, local business owners, and other activists. 

They say the bottled-water biz is bad for the environment and depletes a treasured tourist attraction of its most important natural resource.

Nestlé’s opponents in the Sunshine State aren’t the only ones who have tried to drain the bottled-water biz. Its operations caused controversy in California and Michigan, and state lawmakers have floated bills to turn off the spigot on bottling companies.

Nestlé says its business provides jobs that support local economies, and says it manages water resources responsibly without sucking them dry.

This fight might see a few more waves

In Florida, the scientific staff of the local water supply initially recommended that the new water permit be denied, since it hadn’t been shown that bottling the water was “consistent with the public interest.” The authority is expected to weigh in on the case again today.

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Battle of the Bats

Here’s how the Marucci baseball bat biz went from the backyard to the big league

Yesterday, the baseball bat company Marucci sold to the investment firm Compass for $200m. 

Marucci started out as a backyard hobby project. But by partnering with players instead of paying them for promotion, it became the biggest bat-maker in the big leagues.

It started with a case of accidental entrepreneurship

Gino Marucci fell in love with wooden bats when he was a kid. Back in 2002, when Gino was 8 years old, his dad Jack tried to find one for him.

But bat companies didn’t make any that were short enough, so Jack decided to make one himself. With an $80 lathe, Marucci began carving bats in a shed in his backyard for fun.

Bat-making remained a hobby until 2 injured MLB players training with Marucci — Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence — swung Marucci’s bats and realized they could become a big business.

So Ainsworth began recommending Marucci’s bats to other major leaguers by word of mouth, and in 2009 he co-founded Marucci Sports.

Then, Marucci’s success was powered by player partnerships

Other businesses treat players like bat-swinging billboards, paying them to promote their bats. 

But Marucci instead partnered with players in the design process (before the 2009 World Series, Marucci and Chase Utley co-designed a bat for use against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera).

This led Albert Pujols, Utley, and other all-stars to voluntarily promote Marucci bats. Eventually, 25+ players invested in Marucci as co-owners.

So without paying for any sponsorships, Marucci soon toppled Louisville Slugger’s 100+-year reign as heavy hitter: Marucci is now the No. 1 bat brand in the MLB, used by more than 40% of players.

Under the new ownership, Marucci’s leadership team will remain in charge, but the company will expand to international markets like Japan and South Korea and roll out new products.

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Kirkland Luxury

Why in the name of Kirkland Signature does Costco sell $600k wedding rings?

Last week, Costco announced that one of its shoppers had shelled out $600k for a “high-value large-carat diamond.”

For those of us who buy bulk bags of almonds at Costco it may seem strange, but such pricey purchases aren’t uncommon at Costco — and it’s all part of their strategy.

It’s luxury-as-a-strategy

There are 2 main reasons that Costco makes sure to keep discounted luxury items in its inventory:

  1. Costco wants to position itself as the discount destination for everything, from bargain items to luxury goods — an effort to differentiate from budget-focused stores like Walmart.
  2. Costco wants to keep its customers on their toes with a constant rotation of interesting items — like diamond rings or swimming pools — that keep people coming back to see what’ll be featured next.

And there are plenty of other bizarre buys at the ’Co

Some other (figurative and not-so-figurative) gems include:

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Snippets

📉 The popular free-trading app Robinhood buckled again on Monday, as stocks cratered over coronavirus fears and the plunging price of oil.

🐣 Don’t hit the road, Jack: Twitter reached a deal with an activist investment firm, and Jack Dorsey will stay on as CEO.

💸 Many D2C flameouts have something in common: skyrocketing costs to actually acquire customers.

📺 The newest stunt from mischief-makers MSCHF: a 1-stop destination for pirated streaming video.

🥗 Make way for space salads. A new study finds that red lettuce grown in space is safe to eat.

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Nick “the Ram-Don” DeSantis

STAFF WRITER/EDITOR

Fred Knott

VP of Polite Rejection

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