09 April 2015

The Day Frozen Pudding-Pops Destroyed
Boris Yeltsin's Faith in Communism

After a September 1989 tour of Houston's Johnson Space Center, 
Boris Yeltsin -freshly elected to the new Soviet Politburo- made an impromptu visit to a typical American grocery store -'Randalls'- in Clear Lake, Texas,
to have himself a look around...

And more than anything he'd seen at the advanced NASA facility, what really blew Yeltsin away was the sheer variety of goods at the supermarket. The fact that such stores where to be found in just about any town in America was said to be beyond comprehension for the Soviet politician- the pictures tell a thousand words-

A mesmerized Yeltsin wandered the aisles, marveled at price-scanning registers he had no idea even existed -while taking his free in-store samples of cheese, etc and remarking how if ordinary Russians knew about America's horn-of-plenty 'there would be a revolution'. He added that the Soviet Politburo
-with their special import shops/privileges- and not even Gorbachev have access to such variety as the average American did.

Later a biographer wrote that subsequent to the grocery store visit, Yeltsin was actually shocked -and depressed- for a while about what he saw at Randall's that day- he just couldn't get the experience off his mind, especially when contrasted with the meagre offerings his 'potentially rich' USSR
-with it's contempt for the retail sector- could manage.

Historians say that visit to Randall's shattered his belief in communism once-and-for-all... two years later, he was the reform-minded president of a non-communist Russia.

As Reagan once said, if he could just have the opportunity meet with the average Ivan (and his family) and show them how Americans truly lived, and our actual standard of living -not what the USSR told them- he felt his point would be made, and perhaps the Cold War resolved.

Idealistic, yes- but when you hear that not even Boris Yeltsin had any clue as to how far behind their decrepit system truly was, it becomes apparent that Ronald Reagan -typically- knew what he was talking about...
seems that's what happened to Yeltsin.