Is Peet's Really Selling Out? Is the Salad Bar Really a Scam?
1. The big piece of gossip today, which originated on a blog called dealReporter, is that Peet's is in talks to sell itself to Starbucks. Since I've just received press releases marking Starbucks' 40th anniversary and Peet's 45th, the timing is interesting. Rumors of a contentious relationship between the two companies are based on the fact that, for many years, they had a no-compete agreement in the Bay Area. See, the original founders of Starbucks first modeled their coffee-roasting business on Alfred Peet's shop in Berkeley. One of those founders, Jerry Baldwin, left Starbucks as Howard Schultz was beginning his reign. He bought into Peet's after Peet had retired and sold his business. (If you're interested in learning more about the two companies' histories, check out Taylor Clark's great Starbucked.)
The distinctions between the two companies seems to have faded over the years, especially since their dark-roast style is very different from the coffees roasted by Ritual, Four Barrel, and Ecco. Will Peet's become Starbucks' premium retail brand, as DealReporter suggests? We'll see.
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3. The food-media trend this year is pointing out that the Irish don't eat corned beef and cabbage to commemorate St. Patrick's Day. Since the holiday has been a celebration of Irish American pride since 1762, does that really matter? I like the way that Joy the Baker is marking St. Patrick's: making potato candy. Or just buy an Idaho spud.