03
Mar
07

Packaging Majors of the World, Unite!

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These red-headed stepchildren of the Hershey family are not festooned in playful holiday colors.

Rite Aid is trying very hard to be a toy store or a carnival side show. It’s Eastertime apparently. I might not have known but for the enormous duckies and bunnies hanging in the doorway, threatening to take my head off the moment I pass through the automatic doors. For the entirety of January and February, we had oversized frogs holding fluffy hearts that read: I LOVE YOU! In December, we got “Plush Bear Figurines” dressed as toy soldiers, and statues of bears leaning on snowshovels or something.

When I walk in with freshly sharpened darts looking for a wall of balloons to pop, hoping I can win one of those anthropomorphic monstrosities, all I get is a dirty, yet slightly worried, look from the manager.

I get the Camel Lights and leave quietly.

These days, Rite Aid is selling the hell out of its Easter candy. Which is to say it’s selling the hell out of the same candy it was selling the hell out of for Valentine’s Day. But in different wrappers. The chocolate’s been done over in pastels, distasteful even at the best of times, instead of the reds and whites and purples of the festival of love. I think it’s hilarious that the same stuff on super-discount-clearance, everything-must-go sale last week is now in another package and going for the regular price.

What is the difference, I ask, between a miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a red foil and one in a robin’s egg blue foil? Packaging is an exact science — to be sure. And what a bizarre science it is. My alma mater, Michigan State University — to which I still give money as a sappy, gullible alumnus — had one of the premier packaging major programs in the country. Apparently. Someone would introduce himself to me in front of a keg as a packaging major, and after I sized him up as someone I would or would not like to sleep with (usually not), I would sort of admire him as one of those people who figured out how to fit an IKEA kitchen table into a box the size of an index card. But now I know he’s really just spending his days flipping through a palette of colored swatches and dressing confections. He and his peers could be a Bravo reality show.

Or maybe he’s making a mint as an investment banker, like everyone else (but me), regardless of his major.

Whatever. Personally, I’m holding out for the yellow and orange and brown ones that come out in October. Far superior.

(You know, I saw a Fear Factor-themed Easter basket today. What… does it contain raw bull testicles that we are Triple Dog Dared to eat? Instead of Easter grass, is the basket filled with mealworms or maggots or nightcrawlers? Bravo. What better way is there to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior?)

Better than the Reese’s are the Hershey’s Miniatures. Well, except for Krackel. Krackel sucks. Everyone knows it. (So watch out for the pink ones.) When you were selling candy bars to pay for your seventh grade trip to Chicago or Washington, D.C., or … oh, I don’t know … Stratford, Ontario, no one ever bought the chocolate with crisped rice. It was all about the Caramello knock-offs or the Hershey’s with Almond.

Krackel. Feh! Fie upon it! I just eat the Special Darks and the Mr. Goodbars. Nothing else even matters. Not even the ridiculous, waxy, stomach-turning regular Hershey bars.

Only in America could we make something out of chocolate that no one likes.

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