A Tale of Two Christmases, or An Amazon Carol

I’ve been dealing with the annual conundrum of what to get my brothers for Christmas. I’m bad at this, so bad that they often don’t receive anything until sometime in January. My only consolation is that they’re nearly as bad at it as me.

So imagine how happy I was when, about a week ago, I noticed a local pub selling a particularly festive spirit: Ginger Sparkle Gin. The first though to cross my mind was No chance in Hell I’m trying that. But, naturally, my second thought was That’ll make a great Christmas gift for my brothers.

So, like every other well-trained and psychologically conditioned consumer with internet access, I went to Amazon. And, as I live in England, that meant the UK version of Amazon. I did a quick search for “christmas gin” and here’s a screen shot of what Amazon showed me:

christmas gin

No surprises there, then. I got a good selection of yummy options to choose from. The only problem is that it’s extremely expensive to mail alcohol to the US. Several states don’t allow it to be sent by post at all and most UK retailers won’t do it.

So, thinking I could order from an American company directly and save myself tons of hassle and import duty, I went to Amazon’s US website. Once again, I did a search for “christmas gin”, but what Amazon.com came back with left me dumbfounded. Speechless. Gobsmacked. Here it is:

christmas gun better

Ok, I know gin isn’t everyone’s favoutite tipple but, come on America, surely a little ginger sparkle gin isn’t enough to make you go all O.K. Corral on me, is it?

Thinking I had made a typing mistake, I carefully put “christmas gin” into the search bar a second time, pressed enter, then scratched my head in confusion as the same results came up. It took me a few seconds to notice, at the top of the page, what Amazon’s search algorithm had done. Note the “Showing results for” bit:

do you mean

Flabbergasted. That’s the only way to describe my reaction. In the US, Amazon’s search algorithm thinks it more likely that I would want a “christmas gun” than “christmas gin”.

The obvious thing for me to do now would be to descend into some psychobabble nonsense about cultural differences between the US and the UK. But I’m more concerned with the fact that, since conducting this accidental research, my seasonally appropriate sugar-plum dreams have been replaced with two competing Christmas nightmares. One has a Santa armed with an AR-15 assault rifle sneaking into people’s homes at night to steal their milk and cookies, while the other features a ginger-scented Santa soaked up to his glitter-dusted whiskers in gin as he rockets round the world in an over-laden sleigh.

My question to you, dear reader, is, which public health hazard do you prefer?

Merry Christmas.

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