Living in Estonia and studying International Relations has helped me notice how much the United States influences the rest of the world by exporting its culture and ideology. Some might call it globalization others might call it cultural imperialism or an ideological hegemony. Whatever you want to call it, Estonia is more than happy to import everything the US has to offer (with religion being one of the few exceptions). Estonia loves free market capitalism, loves the US military, loves US cars. In fact some have commented that Estonia even acts like the 51st state of America.
Despite all of this there have been a few things that I have missed, mainly the peanut butter culture. Europeans just don't like peanut butter. The situation is much better than it was in 2002, when I first came to Estonia, which makes me cautiously optimistic. About a year ago or so we discovered that Marks and Spencer's sells great peanut butter for a good price. But things got a lot better when we discovered last week that the grocery store in the Solari mall was selling tons of US goodies! A member of our branch told me about it on the trip down to Riga for the priesthood meeting with Elder Bednar. We normally don't go to this grocery store at all, finding this out was a small tender mercy. I tried to be frugal but still ended up spending 20 euros.
To many of our US blog readers this picture might not seem super amazing, but let me tell you eating these foods was just incredible. The Nerds were tart but sweet, crunchy but not hard. The laffy taffy was super chewy and not old or brittle. And of course how could we not mention the great jokes "why did the tomato blush? He saw the salad dressing!". The best was the Reese's minis. My strategy is to eat them like pop corn. Just throw as many in your mouth as fast as possible. No unwrapping just eating.
It seems that the peanut butter culture is continuing to seep into Estonia. For those Estonians worried about losing their own tradition and culture I invite you to think if the Estonian traditional sweets are really better than Reese's. Remember, there is no wrong way to eat a Reese's. Maybe some day there will even an Estonian way to eat a Reese's. I look forward to that day and until then I'll be doing my part by eating as many Reese's as possible.