Love, Peace and Frogs - that is the slogan, reproduced countless times on T-Shirts, Mugs, bracelets and bags. All available in the gift store of the Rainforest Cafe. In Chicago there is one gigantic Rainforest Cafe which seems to be basically a theme-parked food chain in front of the hotel. I wandered around the block, as I am kind of sick, and for the sake of my room-mate, i wanted to give the cleaning lady time and space to put the room in order. Travel, Airports, and hotel rooms as well as being more and more comfortable with each other have taken their toll - in terms of behaving in the freshly claimed hotelroom. So, I thought, the least I can do for Leda, is to let the cleaning lady do her job.
The giant plastic frog, sitting on top of the building had already caught my eyes the day before. I have no idea, why I somehow naively believed, that the Rainforest Cafe had something to do with the Rainforest, or, more specifically, the preservation of said area, or education about said area.
As I learned in Wiki, they even have Rainforest Cafes outside the US, for instance in the French Disneyland in Paris and in a place called The Dubai Mall, in Dubai, U.A.E.
What bugged me about the Rainforest Cafe was
- the slogans, pretending to have a hippiesk vibe (and hippiesk colors) as in: in tune with the earth and preserving the environment although this was clearly not the case. In fact, the whole area was stuffed with cheap plastic or furry products, all made in China, all foreseeably with a very short life-span and none indicating a history of fair labour, clean cotton, rainforest friendly, ecological whatever. none. zero. nada. nul. why? because non of this million items have been produced under somewhat ecological or humane conditions
- the food on the menu looks like any other food in any other given chain restaurant. Chicken, Beef, Tuna. We all had our lectures about food sustainability on the WPI program. The people who are running the Rainforest Cafe obviously not. But wait, what does the little leaf next to a meal indicate? A 100 percent dolphin friendly? A 50 percent free range? Somehow organic? No, just a lame "speciality of the Rainforest Cafe".
- All the animals you could marvel at - either as a costume for a human being (a frog-man was running around as an usher), or in a plastic or furry version, they were just a random selection of every exotic animal that would draw little kids into the Rainforest Cafe. Monkeys. Okay. Frogs. Yes, well, a lot of them. Zebras? No, not in the Rainforest. Elephants? Even if you had gotten the continent right, every aspiring evolutionary biologist could explain that elephants don't fit under Rainforest trees which is why the habitat of elephants usually is the steppe. Polar Bears? Are you kidding?
Sorry for the sweaty lecturing entry. I lost it because it is unfair that the Rainforest brand gets hijacked to promote cheap and unsustainable goods and services and that it is done without shame but with shiny happy Love Peace and Frog T-Shirts. It just seemed like a petting zoo where they kill the animals once they are outgrown. Which they probably do anyway.
Miscellanous facts: A Texan entrepreneur opened the first Rainforest Cafe, coincidentally in the Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota, in 1994.