I bought a package of Hostess' Lucky Puffs on Thursday and hit an all-time low. Eleven out of twelve months in a given year, I can walk past the Hostess aisle, with nary a thought or glance at the coconut-covered marshmallow treats--when they're called Snowballs, they have no appeal. However, dye the coconut green, adorn the package with a leprechaun, call it Lucky, and Hostess has found itself a consumer.
Hostess is not the only company that has made a fool of me. I buy every permutation of Reese's Peanut Butter cups. If M&M's put nougat, caramel, or egg nog in their center, I would try them. Twix could market a new individual stick, change nothing but the name (Diet Twix), and my candy addiction would take over.
But I assure you, it is not the sugar that lures me, it is the packaging.
Junk food makers have mastered the art of changing colors, swapping ingredients, and celebrating holidays (e.g. Hershey's Mr. Good 'Friday' Bar) to dupe eager buyers. In actuality, distributors are fooling no one; the consumer fools himself. If he can come up with an excuse, any excuse ("Oh, what's this? The Authentic Snickers? I haven't heard of that one. Hmm. Wrapper says, 'Tastes more like a Snickers than ever before.' I guess I'll have to try it."), then his conscience is appeased.
What confuses me, though, with this phenomenon--given our Postmodern culture in which we deplore labels--is why we embrace wrappers. Isn't this hypocritical? "Don't call me evangelical, emergent, conservative, grace brethren, mosaic, polyphonic... but would you please hand me that bowl of Resurrection Skittles."
Some might argue this is different: "Wrappers delineate, they don't discriminate." But aren't these functional equivalents? In either case, the Bubble Yum is separated from the Tic Tac, and the Twinkie segregated from the Oatmeal Cream Pie.
So why do we allow it?
Simple. In an economy built for convenience, some discrimination is necessary. And I can accept this, especially if it means my Lucky Puffs will stay fresh.
Author's Note: I threw the second Lucky Puff away, after leaving it unclothed on the desk Thursday night. This blog represents the fifth stage of grief, thus I almost entitled it "Acceptance."