Baby bottle craze sweeps Gulf Arab states, sparks backlash

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Mohamed Nass - Cairo - , United Arab Emirates (AP) — Cafes across several Gulf Arab states started selling coffee and other cold drinks in baby bottles this month, kicking off a new trend that has elicited excitement, confusion — and backlash.

The fad began at Einstein Cafe, a slick dessert chain with branches across the region, from Dubai to Kuwait to Bahrain. Instead of ordinary paper cups, the cafe, inspired by pictures of trendy-looking bottles shared on social media, decided to serve its thick milky drinks in plastic baby bottles.

Although the franchise was no newcomer to baby-themed products — a milkshake with cerelac, the rice cereal for infants, is a long-standing bestseller — the unprecedented fervor over the feeding bottles came as a bit of a shock. All the stress and anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic appears to have spurred some to find an outlet in the strange new craze.

“Everyone wanted to buy it, people called all day, telling us they’re coming with their friends, they’re coming with their father and mother,” Younes Molla, CEO of the Einstein franchise in the United Arab Emirates, told The Associated Press this week. “After so many months with the pandemic, with all the difficulties, people took photos, they had fun, they remembered their childhood.”

Lines clogged Einstein stores across the Gulf. People of all ages streamed onto sidewalks, waiting for their chance to suck coffee and juice from a plastic bottle. Some patrons even brought their own baby bottles to other cafes, pleading with bewildered baristas to fill them up.

Pictures of baby bottles filled with colorful kaleidoscopes of drinks drew thousands of likes on Instagram and ricocheted across the popular social media app TikTok. A cure for the world’s uncertainty? A response to some primal instinct? Either way, a trend was born.

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