At the convenience store yesterday, I saw another "limited edition" chocolate bar. You know the sort: Cinnamon KitKats, Vanilla Reese Cups, Orange Crunchies, etc. I always think of a bunch of executives in Pennsylvania, slowly coming to the sad realisation that whether it's chocolate with crispy rice, or chocolate with crispy wafers, it's still pretty close to the same stuff they sold last year. They desperately need something new (although I'm not sure why, since kids + chocolate is the gold standard for demographic appeal), and this is the result.
Does anyone think that they'll somehow discover that the only thing missing from a Twix these last fifty years was a dash of Pumpkin Pie artificial flavouring? Or does it make more sense to think that they're terrified of how much money it would cost to create a new snack bar?
Or, more specifically, how much it would cost to market a new snack bar. Look a few years into the past: A new bar was invented, called "Wunderbar". Its ad campaign consisted of a bunch of vikings opening a pirate chest (huh?) and shouting, "Wunderbar!" And it worked. And now, Wunderbar has enough recognition that it sells itself (and its minty-fresh counterpart). A brand new bar, on the other hand, will require millions, just to get people to notice it, and it'll cost millions putting it into mass production. Wunderbar, on the other hand, didn't require as much startup, so it didn't have to be a miracle of confection to turn a profit. Trying something new just isn't worth it, no matter how badly they crave a new audience.
The end result? Short of a new company trying to enter the market and stay cost-competitive against Willy Wonka, the candy racks aren't going to change any time soon.
And as soon as you realise that, it becomes somewhat insulting that they're still trying to peddle Charleston Chews and Baby Ruths. Even Oh!Henrys... when was the last time "Henry" was a modern name?
Despite that all, I was still curious to see the following chocolate bar for sale:
After all, it's not like maple is a bad flavour... and it does kind of tug at the ol' patriotism... but wait, what's that in the top left? "Red and White in Every Bite"? Okay, this I've got to see.
Hm. What do you know... it's slim, it's brown, it's crunchy, it's about the size of a banana, it's full of peanuts, and it's filled with gooey, chewy, blood-red nougat.
Am I really the only person who thinks it's like biting a squirrel's head off?
Like I said earlier, this is what passes for innovation nowadays. Welcome to the dark side of the long tail: the companies which already enjoy blockbuster success have optimised their production to the extent that now they can't manufacture anything except for their blockbuster items. At best, they can only manage baby steps away from their established brand, which results in curiousities like this.
The real problem, though, is that I like squirrels. Ah, well... I guess it's high time that I ditched the sweet tooth.