The Swiss Colony (posted 9/4/04)
Every September, I receive the Swiss Colony catalog of Christmas eatables. The Swiss Colony is a mail-order purveyor of sweet, delicious things like Genuine Dobosh Tortes. The catalog states, "Our original Dobosh Torte was the first item ever made in the Swiss Colony Bakery in 1959." These Dobosh Tortes are the ones which are always described as "feeds up to 48" - only true if you cut the torte on a meat slicer with the setting on 'Shave.'
Maybe it works for feeding starving Ethiopian children: "Don't worry, little Baatuu; there will be some cake left for you - you're only 37th in line." Around here, the torte produces only about nine normal-sized servings.
Last year, I was offered a charge account in a letter signed by Hans Kubly. Nice Swiss name. Obviously from the German section of the country rather than, say, the Italian region. Sounds very Swiss; although there are a lot of Jewish people in Switzerland as well. But Swiss Colony probably didn't get nearly as good response when they market-tested Izzy Kaplan's signature. Or M. Routleau from the French-speaking region.
Hans also enclosed a charge card printed especially for me with a credit limit of $1,100. This was surprising since we hadn't bought anything from the good Swiss folks in several years. (My wife won't let me and she hides the catalog - because I want to buy everything in it.) I wonder how they set their credit limits? Is it on some financial/credit score or do they pick a number based on market potential - one's weight? The more obese you are - the higher the limit.
I can imagine some 800-pound guy getting a card with a $48,000 limit. He's probably bedridden; therefore, he has lots of time to watch television while munching on tortes, truffles and petit-fours. I wonder if they give Gwenyth Paltrow a low limit - or no card at all? Perhaps, the catalog is directed toward skinny people like Gwenyth; she could probably get 48 servings from that little #$@* torte.
Update: Since I bought from them last year (very tasty stuff), they have now raised my limit to $1,200. Possibly because they trust me more. Or because they think I've gained a little weight.
2008 Update: I can now charge up to $1,600 and "pay only $55 a month" at a 23.99% APR.
2009 Update: My credit limit is now $1,700.
2010 Update: My credit limit is still $1,700 but I have to "pay only $60 a month". But I can "send no money until February 2011."
Someday, I'd like to visit the Swiss Colony in Wisconsin. I picture the Colony as a green, grassy farm populated by smiling, apple-cheeked, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired folks, joyously stirring up chocolate in gleaming copper vats or merrily whistling while baking cake products in large Krupp stainless steel ovens. Or mixing dough in giant Krauss-Maffei rotating industrial mixers.
Meanwhile, happy cows graze in a large, verdant pasture seeded with white Alpine flowers tended by Hummel-like shepherds in colorful lederhosen.
Or ... maybe everything is made by a bunch of sullen workers housed in a dilapidated building in a South Milwaukee ghetto.
On second thought, perhaps I better not visit. Just place an order and, when it arrives, enjoy the rich, delicious goodies.
Goodbye: In mid-November 2012, I tried to order some Christmas sweets from Swiss Colony. The website gave erroneous information. So, I telephoned on my own dime - SC offers no toll-free number - and placed the order.
Given choices of various shipping dates, I selected one. When the order was read back, the order-taker gave the wrong date. I told her so. "Too late, the orders already been placed," she said glibly. "Then cancel the order," said I. "I don't have the authority to do that, you'll have to speak to customer service," replied Kenja. She then transferred me to a voice mail that said customer service was closed.
The following day, I contacted customer service and canceled the order. And, after 20 years or so of patronage, I'll never order from Swiss Colony again. We're getting our holiday delicacies elsewhere. (posted 12/6/12, permalink)
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