In yesterday’s batch of propaganda, Daesh included a photo essay showing daily life in a small town near Syria’s Tabqa Dam. According to Google Translate the town is Medinhjamilh, whose nickname is the “Class City,” although I could find no references to anyplace in Syria with that name.
The array of propaganda photos, accompanied by text that seems to be promoting tourism to the area, shows a euphoric town abundant in goods and food, construction projects, and education. There is also a picture of a man having his hand cut off in a public display, presumably for theft, and a burning of one of many loads of contraband cigarettes.
But among the photos of commerce, one in particular stood out: a prominent display of Pringles potato chips.
The other products in this food market appear to be all off-brands, yet there are very genuine-looking Pringles chips in a number of varieties.
How did Pringles manage to gain a foothold in a seemingly impenetrable market? According to a World Economic Forum report, trucks transport food across the border from Turkey to Syria, then drive through territory not controlled by Assad in order to reach ISIS-controlled territory.
It seems somewhat ironic that ISIS would allow Pringles, considering they outlawed cigarettes due to the high one can receive, and yet people can still get a high from top quality salt-laden and high-carb chips.
And there are other Western name brands of comfort food reportedly available. Sabina Selimovic, a teenage Austrian girl now living in ISIS territory, said that there is Nutella in Raqqa. And ISIS fighters have been known to consume smuggled McDonald’s, Froot Loops, and even Nature Valley granola bars. The availability of those for civilians is unclear.
A spokesperson for Kellogg Company, which owns Pringles, refused to comment unless they were guaranteed this story would be published in a mainstream news outlet.