Over the past several months, I have made a concentrated effort to become a better person, but this is extraordinarily difficult when New Era wants us to consider the following as an acceptable ambassador for our fair city:

This is real, people. It’s not a leak; it’s not a troll. It is an actual hat designed by actual human beings, vetted, tested, manufactured, and now offered for sale in the hopes that you will exchange, for the right to count it among your possessions, the hours of your life expended in the effort to earn and keep 36 American dollars.

The impact of this digital vomit is so severe that it knocked the column I had under construction right into next week. It’s breaking news. It affects lives both young and old.

The new design was brought to my attention by C. Trent Rosecrans, via our own Chad Dotson, neither of whom would joke about a thing like this:

I scrupulously avoid criticizing the work of other creatives in public, because I know how it feels when precious work is under attack. I never leave one-star reviews for books even if they make me regret I ever learned how to read.

This hat, however, is the living embodiment of why everybody hates group projects. It looks like the teacher sent everyone out into the Internet to find one vaguely Cincinnati-related graphic, then included them all so that no one’s feelings got hurt. The result is the worst group project to occupy this city since the cicada emergence.

This hat has vaguely heard that city named “Cincinnati” exists, and it will let you know more just as soon as it checks out what NetscapeSearch has to say about it.

This hat is the baseball equivalent of a THIS IS MY CITY OF RESIDENCE banner.

I teach college writing (I know, right?) and for the past seven weeks I have been screaming at my students about the importance of thesis statements as a foundation for a successful paper. “You need to tell the reader what’s coming,” I tell them. “Provide a full argument. You can’t just say ‘Mangos come from trees.’ It should be a complete preview of the paper. And don’t use cliches or casual language.”

So they’ll go away for a week and return with “From the beginning of to time to society today, everybody should believe mangos come from trees.”

I’m used to deeply mysterious thesis statements, is what I’m saying. This hat’s thesis statement is difficult to grasp, other than to perhaps advertise the fact that everyone involved here had access to Wikipedia and a trial version of Microsoft Paint.

The rest of you are doubtless as mystified by how this happened as I am, but for those of you struggling to decipher these enlarged store-brand emojis, let us conduct a starting discussion of why they suck:

-The buckeye leaf, ostensibly a tribute to the state tree but doubtless meant to bring to mind Ohio State University, misses the minor point that the vast majority of Cincinnatians live quite comfortably without any updates about Ohio State other than occasional confirmation that it’s probably still up there in the middle somewhere. No one paints their house scarlet and grey.  No one rolls through downtown draped with layers of buckeye necklaces. For anyone other than the occasional alum, It’s not a thing here. It’s just not.

Now if the hat managed to cram every insignia of every area high school in the same space– well then it would be getting somewhere.

-Because the dish of chili was rendered by a ten year old using a Commodore 64, it was deemed necessary to add a helpful picture of a chili pepper, even though Cincinnati chili is made in the Greek style, and therefore low-key chocolaty and cinnamony rather than peppery. As a matter of fact, the leading quality of our chili is its lack of pepper. I am aware that our chili is a great source of controversy both within (Gold Star vs Skyline vs everything else) and without (is it, or is it not, diarrhea ladled over a hot dog?) but at least read the freaking SIDE OF THE CAN. That’s online too. I promise.

-I am not even going to start with the new diagonal-based Year of Formation religion we all apparently belong to now.

-The silhouette of the Suspension Bridge is the least offensive aspect of this entire offense, but by the time you get to it, you’re exhausted by everything ever created.

I am now reliably informed every team’s hat has since vanished from the New Era website, and that is a pity. It is a stirring monument to an assumption of understanding, and gosh darn it that’s appropriate in society today.

28 Responses

  1. Robert Lawson

    Huzzah. I live me a good rant. Small point: It may seem “chocolatey” to some but I hate perpetuating the myth that there is chocolate in Cincinnati chili.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks Robert! There is no chocolate in Cincinnati chili in the sense that someone’s throwing Hershey’s Kisses in the pot, but most “copycat” recipes do contain unsweetened cocoa powder. (But others don’t, so we can both be right 🙂 Maybe it depends on which kind the recipe is emulating…)

  2. Sliotar

    Mary Beth, excellent use of “digital vomit.”

    However, as one of RLN’s Ohio State graduates… it is somewhat concerning that any Ohioans feel they can lead a well-rounded life without updates drenched in Scarlet and Gray. (LOL).

    Good last paragraph .. the hats are tone deaf … would we expect anything less from MLB in 2021?

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        (I do know that much, and only because I lived with the band for a year. Otherwise I would absolutely be scratching my head despite a life of Ohioism.)

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I was amazed when I embedded with TBDBITL for a year. It was this completely different culture just 90 minutes away, one that extended all the way up to Put In Bay. I couldn’t believe that it was all in the same state.

  3. Rut

    Well shoot, you sold me, gotta go get one of those hats now!

    I think that hat plus my best awful Christmas sweater might win the prize next year at the office Holiday gathering (no longer a party once they took away the booze).

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      What needs to happen now is ironic fandom of the hat. Kind of like how Vanilla Ice gathered quite the crowd last weekend in Cocoa Beach… people *paid* to see him.

  4. Rex

    That is a nice hat, do you have anything for us REDS fans of Fort Lauderdale?

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      See, they didn’t consider the fans in exile. At all.

    • TR

      Fort L. does have a Skyline Chili and there’s also one on the other coast in Naples.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Oh when I found frozen Skyline in a grocery store in Florida I cried. A little bit of “always home” in my new home!

      • Florence Bartels

        I had been living in rural Iowa about 9 years before I discovered that our local Walmart sold Skyline Chili. Before I could buy one can (I was stocked up from our last trip to Cincinnati), they put “clearance” stickers on them – the death knell for a product. I bought all of them. A bittersweet moment.

  5. Mark Moore

    “This hat, however, is the living embodiment of why everybody hates group projects. It looks like the teacher sent everyone out into the Internet to find one vaguely Cincinnati-related graphic, then included them all so that no one’s feelings got hurt. The result is the worst group project to occupy this city since the cicada emergence.”

    Truer words may never have been written. Reminiscent of a NASCAR vehicle with every square inch covered in somebody’s logo.

    Rant on, Ms. MBE! If you accept this, you might as well being lining up sponsors for the Assault Kilt.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      This would just encourage further Assault Kilts. He got the basic kind but there’s a deluxe version.

  6. Gonzo Reds

    We almost have a winner for worst ever Reds hat here but… I have to say the Puig gold 66 promo hat gets that distinction. The Reds shop was practically giving those away last time I attended a game. Maybe we can sign Puig to a minor league deal as long as he agrees to collect and burn the whole lot of them.

    We always have a real winner when you publish your latest columns Mary Beth! 🙂

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      aw thanks 🙂
      I don’t remember the Puig hat but I do recall some Wendy’s Jazz cap-style monstrosities at some point.

  7. Rednat

    yea, this is definitely a slap in the face to our city. it deserved your powerful rant Mary Beth.

    friend- so ,where are you living these days?
    me- in Cincinnati
    friend- that is in Ohio right?
    me- its complicated!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      lol exactly! Our Ohio is not necessarily the remainder of Ohio.

  8. Scott C

    I am glad you told me the picture with the pepper was suppose to be Chili, I would never had got it. The rest of them I understood but why oh why does anyone think they can improve on perfection. I keep basically two hats to where in public, one is a light blue hat with the interlocking NC (go Heels) and the other is a Red hat with the simple wishbone C. You can have different color of hats, even camouflage if you have to) but a hat is not a NASCR car) let’s keep the message simple. Good rant Mary Beth we all need those once in a while.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      A hat is not a NASCAR entry– an excellent observation. Imma steal it 🙂

  9. Nick in NKY

    The clip art chili bowl is definitely the best-worst thing I have seen this week. I just wanted to say that this piece is an excellent articulation of my feelings. Thank you for this.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks Nick! I had lots of people on my Facebook profile with their shoulders in the air on it too. You’re not alone, my friend.

  10. Wallyum

    From what I’ve seen, no fan of any team likes the hats. The buckeyes that were added to the Reds cap really rubs me wrong. If I was of the age group to want to look like a gangsta, I sure wouldn’t want to be lumped in with the O-holes. Hard pass.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The Cardinals fans got what looks like Cheez-Its on theirs. Apparently it’s toasted ravioli. Apparently toasted ravioli is a thing. Apparently toasted ravioli is a thing in St. Louis.

    • Doug Gray

      There’s an age group that wants to look like a “gangsta”? What does a “gangsta” look like? I look forward to reading your reply.