Spectator writer Alec Marsh has provoked controversy after he described people who eat in Greggs as “neanderthals”.
Taking a swipe at “broke Britain”, he said the high street bakery has become a “dining exemplar” for cash-strapped diners through its “sheer, demotic cheapness in pecuniary, culinary and aesthetic terms”.
“In a sad reversal of the more aspirational years, back in the 2000s and the pre-pandemic 2010s, when the likes of Pret a Manger occupied this position; now Greggs is it”, Marsh said, describing it as the “fast-food choice of a country where living standards have been in the doldrums for decades”.
Stats in the magazine show Greegs upped its revenues by 23 per cent in 2022 to reach £1.51 billion.
They fail to note that it has also increased pay of all shop employees by 10 per cent to mitigate the “material cost inflation”.
But in comments that have incensed people on social media, Marsh described Greggs as the modern equivalent of the Lyons Corner House, with waitresses in pinafores replaced with “greasy, crumb-strewn tables and people eating from paper bags”.
“Where once our recent predecessors used knives and forks and ceramic tableware, in Greggs Britain we use our fingers and bite at our food like Neanderthals”, Marsh said.
“In that respect, we’re culturally de-evolving, becoming less sophisticated – or perhaps we’ve been Americanised so much we don’t even notice it.”
The article has been described as “classist” by Mic Wright, while others said it shouldn’t be a “dirty secret” – as he puts it – to support a thriving successful UK business.
Read the article in full here.
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