20 brands I’m thankful for in 2020

It’s Thanksgiving, but how do we know it? We’ve been home alone all year, not just for the holidays. What will I wear to the living room tomorrow — the the dark tan or the light tan corduroy trousers? Yes, I have pandemic fatigue, but I want to be here next Thanksgiving.

2020 was most notable for the lack of human interaction in our lives, the loss of communality. This brings a lack of joy and excitement. In a year with little to shout about, it’s the little things that count. As a result, our relationships shifted to inanimate brands. More than ever, our brand preferences defined us. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for these brands — they made 2020 easier to bear.

Santa Maria Novella — Rule #1 when you are alone in a pandemic for months on end: be comfortable in your own skin. That’s impossible to do if your own skin is actually uncomfortable. SMN has been creating skin preparations in the world’s oldest pharmacy just outside of Florence for centuries. Recommended products: Almond oil, Body milk, Before & After shave cream

Adidas — 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Adidas Superstar. From Hip-Hop to Hollywood to the Hardwood, the world would be far less stylish without this shell-toed classic. To commemorate the anniversary, Adidas released several dozen limited-edition models. I’ve picked up a few pairs and they are appropriate footwear for any Zoom meeting. Recommended products: The slip-on Superstar (summers), Superstar in Collegiate navy

Bill’s Khakis — I’ve struggled to find trousers with a long enough rise to be as comfortable while I’m seated as I am standing up. In 2003, I discovered Bill’s Khakis and my life changed forever. BTW, there is an actual Bill that founded the company: Bill Thomas, former copywriter at Leo Burnett. Recommended products: M1P Original twills & shorts

Lacoste — Is there anything more comfortable against your trunk than the original Rene Lacoste tennis polo? It just feels right, looks right and fits right. Key tip: never put one in a dryer…never. Recommended products: Slim fit version when tucking in and classic fit with the shirttail out

Champion — There’s a lot of fleece out there in the world today. But it takes a champ to really wear a Champion. It’s getting chilly and nothing looks and feels better over a polo than a grey sweatshirt. Recommended products: Original reverse-weave crew neck in grey, sweatpants in cherry pie

Barilla — Man does not live on bread alone; he also needs pasta. Ah, pasta — what would life be without pasta? You think the pandemic sucks? Try imagining it without penne bolognese or spaghetti alio y olio. I like Barilla because it’s imported from Italy and cheap at Costco. Recommended products: bow-ties, penne rigate

Feltman’s of Coney Island — The original hot dog. The first in the world. These are not your everyday dogs due to the price and the intense old-world spice flavor. But for special occasions like Father’s Day? Feltman’s does daddy right. I read an article this summer about how the pandemic saved the hot dog. If so, long live the pandemic! Recommended: apple cidar vinegar mustard, natural casing frankfurters

Boar’s Head — Have you noticed your increased condiment usage in 2020? That’s because we ate more lunches at home than any time in history (well, at least since the Stone Age). More condiments equals more cold cuts. Without Boar’s Head, I would be forced to eat Oscar Meyer. As if the pandemic isn’t bad enough. Recommended products: Deluxe ham, Ovengold turkey

Ken’s Salad Dressing — Salads are key to…well, you know…uh, keep things moving along. Here in The South, there’s a scarcity of old school dressings like Russian and French. Whenever I used to order a salad in a restaurant (remember restaurants?) and ask for French dressing, I would invariably be served Ranch dressing (sounds like “french”). Thanks Ken’s. Recommended products: The French and Russian are great but all the Italian variations work just fine too.

Lay’s — Simple, classic thin potato chips sitting there on the plate next to a ham & swiss on rye. Welcome to my world at noon. Recommended products: salt & vinegar, barbecue and sour cream & onion (tip: get the variety pack of 30 small bags at Costco)

Slow-Kettle Campbell’s Soup — I’m a soup guy. This soup comes in individual portion-sized cans and is microwavable in the package. These are the best canned soups ever made. And they’re ready to go in 65 seconds. They taste better than homemade. Recommended products: Tomato & Sweet Basil, Clam Chowder

Casamigos Tequila — What would the pandemic be without skinny margaritas? This stuff is the best and the healthiest booze. Fear of Covid definitely drove me to drink. Recommended products: Blanco, Reposado

Produttori del Barbaresco — The Nebbiolo grape is a natural wonder of the world. This communally-produced wine is as versatile and interesting as mass production will allow. I never get tired of it. Each bottle reveals a new nuance.

Instacart — Not really a brand but it certainly made things easier and safer for our family. Grateful not to be Dead.

The Atlantic — Of all the magazines not named Golf Digest or Adweek on my desk, The Atlantic inspires intellectual curiosity. My mother-in-law bought me the subscription which validates my marriage.

Volvo — True, I’m getting about two weeks to the gallon these days; but when I do venture out, I’ve noticed just how crazy everyone seems to be driving since the pandemic (is it just me imagining this?). It’s comforting to feel safe on the road. As an adult, I’ve never driven anything but. Recommended: S90, XC40

Haverty’s — Have you noticed how much you sat on your ass this year? I hope your sofa is soft. Ours is. My butt thanks you Haverty’s.

Zoom — Ok, I know we’re all tired of this shit. But without Zoom we’d all have arthritic elbows from holding our phones up to our ears. I like Zoom. I may never leave the house again.

Facebook — My mother loves Facebook. It allows me to show her I’m alive and well and eating well and my family is healthy. She can see photos and videos of her grandchildren. I know all the political muck around Facebook, I don’t care. I love my mother.

Titleist/FootJoy — I’ve left the building for very few things this year. Golf was the constant, almost every Wednesday morning. Vitamin D, exercise and healthy competition keep us alive. Titleist manufactures my equipment and FootJoy, my shoes. Without golf, I think I’d hang myself. Recommended: Titleist AVX, FJ Flex

2 thoughts on “20 brands I’m thankful for in 2020

  1. Brett Howser

    Who says our materialistic culture died in the pandemic?!?!? Long live that fiesta of consumption known as The American Way. Happy Thanksgiving.


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