I Went To A Bar And Ordered A Hat

old man eat ice cream

Contributed by Taylor Burkhalter

Perhaps, good afternoon,

I can’t be sure.

Regardless, let’s talk about brands. What are some of your favorite brands? Why are they your favorite? No need to answer aloud. I can’t hear you.

Some of my favorite brands to follow include big names like Nike and Apple, as well as some smaller, local brands like Markham & Fitz Chocolate Makers and Onyx Coffee Lab in Northwest Arkansas. Why do I like these brands? I think one of the reasons I favor them is because they have physical products I can connect with – I can feel them. I can actually smell and taste these brands.

Have you ever tasted an iPhone? They’re the worst! Luckily, they have other attributes going for them that make up for their lack in flavor. For example, they are light in weight but dense – so they’re easy to throw, making them an excellent, short to medium-distance weapon. Oh, and because iPhones also function as computers, they make me feel smart, which is probably their best feature.

Markham & Fitz makes delicious craft chocolate, so, obviously, they have a huge leg up on Apple. They are a young brand, but they are already changing the culinary culture in Northwest Arkansas. They began producing artisanal chocolate a few years back and they been going steady ever since. Soon, with the opening of their dessert bar in Bentonville, M&F will have the power to bring people together to celebrate chocolate and share a unique culinary experience.

Onyx Coffee Lab makes some of the best, you guessed it….breakfast sandwiches! But, surprisingly, their flagship product is coffee, and it’s incredible. Not only does it taste better than every other coffee, but it also supplies me with energy and temporary bursts of happiness.

All of these brands evoke a certain emotion. Nike makes me feel athletic. As soon as I slip into a dry-fit Nike shirt and pair of Nike running shoes, I imagine myself slam dunking a nuke into a tornado. BOOM SHAKALAKA!  The truth is, I will never be Tracy McGrady, but if a brand can make me feel like I am Tracy McGrady, then I’ll be a customer for life.

Great brands make us do strange things. For instance, Shreveport, LA based Great Raft Brewing Co, a company that produces and sells beer, convinced me to spend $30 on a hat. I went to a bar and ordered a hat. I don’t even wear hats. THAT is good branding.

It took me a while to process my decision to buy this hat. I mean, I like to eat potatoes from Jason’s Deli, but I have yet to purchase a hat that expresses that. Why haven’t I bought a J. Del hat?!  I later realized the reason I bought the GRB hat is because their brand is bigger than just beer. They have created a culture of bringing people together – they build community. And I wanted people to know I was part of that community. Jason’s Deli doesn’t bring people together. Jason’s Deli brings people to the salad bar. Then hooks them up with some complimentary soft serve ice cream that they awkwardly lick at while sitting alone in a booth.

Good brands can make great products. But great brands make products that make us feel part of something larger.

Find a brand that makes you feel like Tracy McGrady.

And for no particular reason, I wrote a poem.

An Ode to NWA Food


There’s distilleries and breweries

And wineries and cideries

And creameries and cheeseries and eateries and meateries!

And roasters and toasters and mimosters

And bakeries and shakeries with pasteries

And chocolatiers with chocolate beers

And pizzerias with san-ger-ias

And kombucha brewers and macarooners

And biscuit trucks and cakes in a cup

And WalMart.