COVID-19 has offered us ample opportunity to both eat and drink our feelings, but rarely are we offered the chance to do both in literally the same package. So, when the liquor conglomerate Diageo announced that it had begun to sell Captain Morgan–flavored chicken and pork sausages, it caught our attention, and raised the question: Is this really a good idea?
There’s a surprising amount to unpack here. For one, the sausages, which are being produced by the New York–based company Les Trois Petits Cochons (The Three Little Pigs), are actually being made in Connecticut by the Longhini Sausage Company, which Three Little Pigs recently acquired. Flavors include Spicy Pork and Chicken Caribbean Jerk, which will appear nationwide in one-pound packs for a price of $4.99-$5.49 and will later be available as both patties and “precooked and snack formats.” If a rum-flavored sausage is something you’re into, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding them.
The thing is, for a product with relatively self-explanatory cross-promotional branding (it’s Captain Morgan!), news of the launch contains a surprising amount of corporatespeak. As written in a press release:
“The goal of our licensing program for Captain Morgan is to create infectiously fun and memorable experiences. This partnership with 3 Little Pigs allows us to recruit new members of the Captain’s crew and to bring consumers more fun with The Captain beyond spirits,” said Declan Hassett, Senior Licensing Manager at Diageo. “We’re excited to have Captain Morgan enter the meat aisle and to bring consumers a delicious new way to grill at home.”
I will freely admit that grilling sausages with spiced rum incorporated directly into the meat does indeed sound like a memorable experience. But, while Captain Morgan is marketed as a sort of rascally barrel-standing scoundrel, saying that you’re trying to “recruit new members” for his “crew” kind of forces the reader to recall that the real Captain Morgan, Sir Henry Morgan, was a privateer (a government-sponsored pirate) and wealthy slave holder who might have died from acute alcoholism.
As written about by the U.K.-based history magazine Historic U.K., the fictional Captain Morgan’s real-life namesake was Sir Henry Morgan, a colonialist who made his fortune by sinking Spanish ships, and by establishing sprawling sugar plantations on the island of Jamaica, which were manned by enslaved peoples. Morgan, who in 1669 was named “Commander-in-chief of all Jamaican forces,” was not a nice man. To those who know the story behind the mascot, seeing his face grinning from a package reading “Captain Morgan’s Caribbean Jerk Pork Sausage” feels... gratuitous, to say the least.