Please note: The photo above appears here courtesy of Cybele (candyblog.net). Thanks, Cybele!
Among the many emergency supplies I carry around with me in my pocketbook is a pack of LifeSavers. I keep it in a ziplock bag along with no fewer than three flavors of sugarless gum (two mint varieties and one fruit flavor) and a Triple Threat Power Bar. Yes, it’s a little sad and spinster old lady-ish, but halitosis is a very real issue, and you never know when the next bout of hypoglycemia will kick in. I like to be prepared, and LifeSavers are a portable way to avoid passing out on the subway. You may scoff, but I’ll never forget the episode of “Happy Days” in which Joanie and Howard Cunningham were locked inside the hardware store and Joanie saved Howard from resorting to cannibalism by feeding him the melted candy bar she had in her pocket.
As it happens, this afternoon I was returning to the Upper West Side after a jaunt to Bloomingdale’s when a particularly virulent bout of low blood sugar overcame me. I reached in to my Mary Poppins-sized faux patent bag — procured in Dallas with Dave — and dug out my trusty (unopened) roll of “5 Flavors.” Traditionally, I opt for the all-cherry pack, but I’d been unable to find it and gone with this one in its stead. It had thus been some time since I’d had any flavor other than cherry, and was happy to see that the first ring in this pack was of the green variety. Mmm … lime … dee-licious! [INSERT COOKIE MONSTER VOICE]
A more fitting thought would have been, “FRICK ON A PLASTIC-TASTING, LIME-IMPERSONATING STICK!”
Green, it seemed, was no longer the color of lime but rather, of WATERMELON. And I like watermelon as much as the next guy, but not in LifeSaver form and certainly not in place of LIME. I winced and bit down on the offending piece, eager to be rid of it and move on to the next.
But there would be no comfort in the next, yellow LifeSaver. That one, which I’d always known to be lemon, was now PINEAPPLE. And after that, it was a bruise-colored RASPBERRY. In the immortal words of my friend Loren’s husband, “Da fuck, man?!” How could any confection company take away a classic flavor like LEMON and replace it with PINEAPPLE?!
I reviewed the fine print on the striped wrapper, thinking perhaps someone at the LifeSaver factory had put a “5 Flavors” wrapper on an “Exotic Fruits” roll by accident. But the mistake was mine. I read the list of enclosed flavors: Watermelon [tiny LifeSaver-shaped bullet] Pineapple [tiny LifeSaver-shaped bullet] Cherry [tiny LifeSaver-shaped bullet] Raspberry [tiny LifeSaver-shaped bullet] Orange. The simple, elegant candy I had known and loved since the very early 70s — the candy I often chose (over Fruit Stripes gum) at the Parsonage Diner in Edison — was gone forever.
I fully understand why new products come along, but I do not understand why they have to piggyback off the good name of long-standing favorites. Go ahead and sell pineapple and raspberry LifeSavers. But for the love of god, put ’em in a TROPICAL or MIXED BERRY pack. Leave lemon alone! What did lemon every do to you?!
Another example of this is the Three Musketeers bar, now available in MINT. Ew! A Three Musketeers bar is, by definition, taupe nougat surrounded by chocolate. It is not supposed to contain pale GREEN nougat. Invent a new candy bar — call it the Three Stooges or the Three Minty Wisemen! But why add a whole new connotation — and a rather unappealing one, at that — to a staple of Halloween buckets everywhere?
Hershey’s? CHEAP, GOOD MILK CHOCOLATE FROM THE MIDDLE OF PENNSYLVANIA. Don’t put it in a fancy label, don’t use the word “caςao” to describe it and don’t try to sell it as a fine Brazilian import. It was PERFECT the way it was.
Snickers Almond? It’s called a Mars bar. Junior Caramels? They’re called ROLOS. What’s next? PEANUT JOY? REESE’S JELLY CUPS?
Recall, if you will, the M&M jingle of yore — “…the milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” MILK chocolate, people. MILK. Not dark. MILK.
Dr. Pepper is a flavor unto itself. Don’t add vanilla. Don’t add cherry. If you want cherry-vanilla soda, INVENT A NEW ONE.
Dunkin’ Donuts, as the name implies, should sell DONUTS, not PIZZA. PIZZA Hut, similarly, should sell PIZZA, not pasta. It’s not Dunkin’ Pizza and it’s not Pasta Hut. I shudder to think about the consequences of a mix-up at either venue. Boston Kreme Pizza? Deep-dish rigatoni?
And THEN, I come to Word Press, seeking refuge, and the entire dashboard is different. I see burnt siena bars where none were before. The buttons are in different places. This is just mean! Is nothing sacred? It’s a sad, sad world. What would Willy Wonka say?