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AbstractIndigo
topic
02:10:11 AM Feb 1st 2012
Regarding the Idiot Plot point I made which was later removed...

A single throwaway line (which later contradicts itself) doesn't justify a host of bad business decisions, and it's especially egregious when the episode itself shows how doubling the workforce can dramatically increase production in a single hour of work, albeit with them going full out to try and win the competition.

The Apples have a huge proven market (for years!) where demand massively outstrips supply, and they have no competition. Most businesses would kill for such a market. There's very little logistics, storage, and transportation to worry about, the raw materials appear relatively cheap (there's no real indication that the Apples will be particularly worse off for allowing the brothers to use their apples) and the product is quite simple to make with minimal lead time and costs.

It's also mentioned that cider sales are an essential part of their business to allow them to stay afloat during the winter. So not only does it appear a much more popular product than their regular apples, but much more profitable too (and sales are very important), so it would therefore make much more sense to spend more effort producing it.

Then there's the negative PR generated by constantly disappointing their customers...

Some of the many ways they could increase how much cider they produce:

  • Hire more help during the busy season. Something that many farms do in the real world, especially when harvesting labour-intensive crops.
  • Come up with a more efficient process. The episode shows how they can double the workforce and increase production by a factor of 5.
  • Devote more time to producing cider during the cider season. Even if they didn't make the process more efficient or hire more help, they should still be able to dramatically increase production. Just looking at their daily production and how much they can produce in an hour implies they don't spend much time producing it.

Outside of this, they also have a large range of options to increase business such as producing more and storing it to sell at other time of the year, selling on it to local restaurants, and so on.

All these points cannot be disregarded due to a single line which contradicts itself as they show in the episode how production can be increased without compromising quality, and which require only a basic grasp of business sense and economics.

There are many businesses in the real world that are far more successful despite complicated production, logistical issues, high lead times, risky and expensive sunk costs and investments, competition, and unproven/irregular markets and demand spikes. So again, a single line of dialogue where all these do not apply does not work.
Geostomp
04:28:29 AM Feb 1st 2012
edited by Geostomp
The episode takes place over three days.

Prior to that, there was no pressing reason to take drastic measures in increasing production beyond what the family was capable of since it was a seasonal side-business and there were no competitors. The Apples have made it clear that they're straightforward ponies that don't really care about becoming rich. They just want enough money to support themselves and their orchard when winter comes. All the "negative PR" you mentioned equated to a handful of ponies grumbling, then immediately coming back and lining up for miles to get a taste the next day, so they clearly didn't drive their consumers off.

After that, they had, at most, one afternoon to produce more before the bros. established their intentions to run them out of business after offering a frankly insulting deal. During that that time, the Flim and Flam made it clear that the only source of apples they actually had was from Sweet Apple Acres which, given that no deal was made, they weren't actually able to sell. As such, they only became valid competition after the contest when, in their haste, they ruined their own batch of cider.

With all of that, you can only call it an Idiot Plot if you assume that similar competitors were lurking around the corner. At worst, the Apples were just a bit too traditionalist. The only truly stupid thing they did was respond to the bros. goading them into a competition that played against their strengths. The fact that their process has flaws does not equate to this trope. The trope's definition isn't "I could do this better", it's reserved for a plot that depends purely on stupidity from everyone involved which this episode simply doesn't have.
AbstractIndigo
06:12:06 AM Feb 1st 2012
You're strawmanning here as most of my points are not dealt with. Obviously wealth is not a huge motivating factor as they could easily abuse the supply and demand and their complete monopoly if that were the case. However it is clearly established in The Ticket Master & The Best Night Ever that the extra money/business would be useful for fixing up the farm, buying new equipment, and so on. It would also give them a larger safety net in case of a failed crop or something. The episode heavily implies that this margin is not that large. Labelling it a side-business simply doesn't hold water because it's an essential part of their business model

I purposefully didn't mention the competition for a reason, short of showing how they can increase the quantity without reducing quality. If I was being picky, I might have argued that they could have tried harder to negotiate a better deal, but it does tie into their characters to not want to deal with someone trying to take advantage like that. The competition itself is largely irrelevant, because the plot and the competition's fallout wouldn't have occurred if the Apples had shown more business sense.

There's also no reason why they would have to hoard their extra wealth if they had no use for it, and couldn't use it for say, fixing up town halls...

It's still an Idiot Plot. Even without caring especially about wealth, they want and arguably need the extra business which is right there on a silver platter for the taking. If they had no real need for the extra business then I'd agree with you that it's not an Idiot Plot, but this isn't the case. Wanting something that is very useful to you and there for the taking and not doing anything about it, causing a plot to develop that only occurs because you acted so irrationally is the definition of an Idiot Plot.

Not to mention that the brothers could also have made themselves a fortune legitimately by catering to the excess demand if they weren't so greedy. So, bad business sense all around.
Godzillawolf
09:59:45 AM Feb 1st 2012
Except like you said, they didn't have a large margin of extra money. How can they hire more workers if they don't have more money to use? Applejack not asking her friends for help is just her being stubborn old Applejack, just because she'll accept help doesn't mean she's going to ask for it if she can't afford to pay them.
AbstractIndigo
10:55:03 AM Feb 1st 2012
Piece work, or even simply paying them at the end of the day/week rather than in advance (most farms hiring temporary workers will do this). Other options may well exist depending on how complicated the financial system of Equestria is.

There's no real barrier to hiring more help when you have a good product in a proven market, with a minimal lead time. Cash flow shouldn't be an issue either.

But even if for the sake of argument that was completely impossible to hire anyone for financial reasons, and they refused to make their process more efficient to keep it 'traditional', simply spending more time making cider would quickly allow them to earn more.
Geiger
topic
10:58:47 PM Jan 28th 2012
Not entirely sure what trope it would be, but it seems significant that after all the talk about beating Pinkie to the cider in the cold open, Rainbow Dash still lets Fluttershy get in line before her (which ultimately costs her a mug of cider).

(I also thought Fluttershy might be offering to share her mug with Rainbow Dash, but it really isn't clear what she was about to say.)
RHJunior
topic
10:22:06 AM Jan 28th 2012
Yet another "progress is bad" cartoon aesop. I would give anything to see one episode where the INVENTOR is the protagonist, bringing a new, beneficial technology to the populace and having to overcome the stump-brained, mule-headed traditionalists.
SomeNewGuy
10:32:15 AM Jan 28th 2012
edited by SomeNewGuy
...Really? Really? You people will look for any excuse to complain. And that wasn't even the aesop at all.
Godzillawolf
11:19:45 AM Jan 28th 2012
Agreed. The Cider machine wasn't treated as bad in and of itself, the Flim Flam Brothers made it abundently clear they had every intention to drive the Apples out of business or trick them into a very crooked deal they couldn't survive on. That's what was bad about it. Plus, if the Apples just had more workers, they can outpace the darn thing anyway, and make BETTER Cider than it.
RHJunior
topic
10:19:34 AM Jan 28th 2012
Tradition supposedly made better apple cider... except the Cider Squeezy 6000 was producing quality cider too—- more of it, faster, and with a fraction of the labor—- until the Apples fudged the contest by tripling the number of workers. Any impartial judge would have seen that the Flim Flam brothers' method was better, and by all rights the Apples should have lost, or at least had their heads thumped for trying such a foolish wager.

Peteman
10:31:29 AM Jan 28th 2012
Technically it was more a doubling (4 original Apple Family +5 friends), but yeah. The Idiot Ball was in everyone's court that time.

Not only that, but it shows the Apple Family should HIRE MORE WORKERS during cider season.
theodrixx
10:53:31 AM Jan 28th 2012
edited by theodrixx
I'm no economist, but I also assume that the Flim Flam brothers could have cut a better deal with the Apples.

If the brothers gave the Apple family a more substantial cut of the cider profits and bought their raw materials (i.e. apples) from them, the Apples could conceivably make as much money as they used to, if not more. In exchange, the brothers would get their monopoly on cider sales. Then they could raise their prices to compensate. I assume that the citizens of Ponyville would only be too happy to pay more for quality cider knowing that there would always be enough to go around.

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