Moses went out one day into the burning desert to look for what…a sign. Something to reassure himself that he did indeed have a purpose on the planet and that his guide to salvation wasn’t just the product of folklore. He got a burning bush, some clay tablets and a true insight into the benefits of high-SPF sunscreen. Me, I don’t have a desert handy when I go looking for answers. I look more toward the commonplace altars for guidance…and no, I don’t mean the Internet. The World Wide Web, as its very name implies, snags just about everything in its snare—you can find anything (or everything) if you go looking for it. I opt for a somewhat lazier route toward illumination…I check the shelves of the marketplace. I hit the candy aisles.
Oh sure, you can go online for any kind of candy imaginable from every corner of the world and if you can’t find what you need, chances are you can find someone willing to manufacture something to suit your particuliar tastes. And that will be just fine…for you. The individual does not necessarily reflect the tastes of a larger group…we leave that to the marketing groups. Manufacturers look to the marketing groups for insight into the minds of consumers. I’m a consumer, so naturally I’m inherently dependent on those very same marketers—if a product makes it all the way to the store shelves, I can safely assume that it’s been through the rigamarole of test markets, product panels, consumer surveys and whatever else constitutes the “GO” stamp of approval.
At this point, Moses is probably scratching his sunbaked scalp or tugging on his beard trying to figure out just what the Easter Bunny or egg-shaped candies have to do with the resurrection of Christ (demonstrating, for an Old Testament figure, quite astonishing precognition) …and sadly, I really can’t offer him anything that comes close to being plausible. I grew up believing in the Easter Bunny, but couldn’t quite resolve the mystery surrounding a rodent hopping around the world distributing candy and colored eggs. If it had been the Spring Bunny, my mind would have been easily placated and the marketing world would have a much easier time with religious organizations. As it is, the annual sweetening of a religious holiday always makes its presence known on store shelves around the world—some of it caters to the bunny-and-basket ritual and some of it just arrives without explanation, and it’s the inexplicable that fuels my enlightenment.
I confess that I don’t quite see the appeal of sugar-coated marshmallow chicks and bunnies, but their symbolism of Springtime gives me no pause. Mass-produced chocolate bunnies spring from the same well, so that’s a no-brainer, too. The egg, for all its simplicity, rings truer toward the concept of birth than to resurrection, but that’s a point of ambiguity for me because a caramel, creme or peanut butter filling makes it a perfectly acceptable offering.
However, the marketing group over at Russell Stover Chocolates surprised me this year with a fish. Yes, a chocolate fish…and not the gold-foil-wrapped one that keeps turning up to mimic the plaque-mounted bass that sings ‘Take Me To the River’. This one is the much more traditional, Christian line-drawn fish that is plastered on bumper stickers on cars and sports the ‘IXOYE’ or ‘DARWIN’ lettering. The thing that piques my curiosity is that this fish has a name and that name is Jesus—it says so right there in the middle!
I’m guessing that the chocolate fish coincides somehow with the beginning of Lent (at least I hope that’s its justification). Again I’m assuming that this product’s availability to consumers in a branch of Bible Belt territory has gone through all the marketing procedures that allow goods to arrive in mainstream America. So, I’m left wondering if this newest offering is acceptable to the larger group or if I’m just trapped in the perpetual microcosm that is test marketing. I’m either looking at potential sacrilege or a truly weird attempt at getting Jesus out of the church and into the Easter basket!! You’re consumers, too…you decide.
Love & Hershey’s Kisses to you!