Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"How Do You Take Your Chewing Gun?"

My son had, of late, developed a taste for Orbit gum. He's buy a pack here, a pack there, and I became intrigued as to how many flavors there were of this sugar-free Wrigley's brand. Most gums traffic in one, two or three flavors, tops. Orbit, as far as I can tell, has 200.

Seriously, it's more like two dozen. But that's a lot! Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintermint, Bubblemint, Cinnamint, Sweet Mint, Citrus Mint, Crystal Mint, Raspberry Mine, Maui Melon Mint—and that's just some of the mint flavors.

But what really makes my mind whir are the liquor flavors. Yes, liquor flavors. Sangria Fresca; Mint Mojito; Fabulous Frutini. There's no liquor in them, of course, but the taste is designed to resemble these refreshing drinks. (The Frutini is a little vague, I admit.)

What is the intention here? Gum, to my mind, is a product primarily devoured by children. Though the Wrigley company may have been aiming at the adult market by coming up with these flavors, the colorful packages are no less attractive to my son. He love Sangria and Mojito flavors. But he doesn't recognize the names as being flavors in the Kiddie canon. This poses some tricky situations for me when he asked me what a Mojito is. Why should a kid be chewing a mock Mojito?

It's interesting that the three flavors I mentioned are only available in the U.S. India gets Clove. Israel is given Lemonade. Bulgaria has something called Fruit for Kids. But America gets booze! We want candy and liquor together. That says a lot about our country. And a lot about the cynical motivations of the Wrigley corporation.

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