Monday, August 10, 2009

When Renaming It Masquerades As Building A Better Mousetrap

I do the weekly grocery shopping in our home. Given that everything else of consequence has Margaret's stamp on it, it seems to be the least I can do. I enjoy it. The store where I do our grocery thing is an A&P Supermarket about seven minutes or so from home, which opens at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. While there may very well be a queen of my A&P, Her Majesty is still getting her royal beauty sleep at 7:00 o'clock and the store - well stocked as it is - is a retail ghost town with only a handful of hardy souls patrolling its aisles.

Among the phenomenon that I find most intriguing is the never-ending number and variety of items that are "new and improved" - as if it was hard to make corn flakes or glue or bottled water ("Try New & Improved Perrier - We've Stopped Spitting In It!") the very best it could be on the first try. Just between you and me, I suppose it is the nature of the beast to do what one can to stay hip and on the cutting edge - irrespective of the product that one produces and sells.

Yesterday morning during my early-morning ambling through the aisles, I wandered down the one in which all of the nutritious foods (microwave popcorn, chips, candy and gum) are located. I love the fact that everything worth snacking on is grouped together in the "vice" aisle. Product placement in the store - including the proximity of related products to one another - is no small source of interest and amusement to me. Admittedly, putting all of the "none of us is really very good for you, Fat Ass" foods together is not as humorous to me as the side-by-side placement of condoms and home pregnancy tests in the "health and beauty aids" aisle, but it is not half bad.

As I perused the snack food aisle yesterday, I came upon the little section reserved for the multi-pack packages of chewing gum. Presumably, all of us know the good folks from Wrigley's, who have been in the gum business for almost ninety years. Most - if not all - of us has chewed at least one stick of Juicyfruit or Winterfresh gum. One of the things I have always liked about Wrigley's gums is that the labelling is idiot-proof. I do not need a Master's Degree in Mixology to figure out what flavor is what since they have always taken it upon themselves to plaster it right there on the label. Well, perhaps I should say they had always done so. As Mr. Zimmerman pointed out so eloquently, the times they are a changing......even in the world of chewing gum.

Wrigley's apparently now markets a brand called "5". The company's web site describes it as, "a groundbreaking sugar-free stick gum." Not surprisingly the site is a tad light on the specifics. I care not about its groundbreaking propensities. It is chewing gum after all - not Rosa Parks. What struck me as extraordinary about it instead are the names of its various flavors, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Actually that is probably not fair. There is no "ranging" whatsoever for they take up residency in the realm of the ridiculous right from flavor one (Rain - "a tingling spearmint") and remain comfortably ensconced there all the way through to flavor seven (Zing - "a sweet to sour bubble"). The names in between are no less idiotic - not to mention irrelevant to gum - than those two.

I know not what drives my gum-purchasing brethren world wide but me - I buy gum according to the flavor I want to chew - not by its mood or its inner chi. I get it - those of us in the world of industry all wish we were cranking out new, hipster doofus products like the cats from Apple on a weekly basis. But life on the edge of the razor is not for all of us, including the Doublemint Twins.

-AK

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