Monday, June 30, 2008

ChocoTour 2008 Begins!

Thumbing my nose at the Middle East and the price of gas, today I drove from Raleigh, NC to the mountain metropolis of Frostburg, Maryland. I started listening to a great book - Predictably Irrational. I'm just getting into it and I'm sure I'll have more to share on that soon. So far my thoughts are: traffic within a hundred mile radius of DC is a nightmare and the mountains of Maryland are breathtakingly gorgeous.

The action really starts tomorrow when I visit Falling Water.

But, since my heart belongs to this blog, I had to find something of interest in my last convenience store stop to write about. This is intriguing and disturbing all at the same time (one of my favorite combinations). Hershey's has partnered with Bubble Yum (geez, Hershey's probably owns Bubble Yum - yep, I googled it - they do) to create more dreaded chocolate gum! The package is cool - chocolate brown with the pink Bubble Yum logo and a smaller Hershey's logo with the scary words "genuine chocolate flavor." If you ever see this combination of words, drop the product you are holding and run away - fast. And far. And don't look back. And for God's sake - don't eat it!!!!

I actually bought and chewed this gum so you, dear reader, would not have to. First of all, let me tell you that chocolate gum is a tease. When I have chocolate in my mouth, I want to eat it, not chew it. The closest I ever want to get to chocolate gum is the Tootsie Roll (and I really like the Tootsie Roll). You chew the Tootsie Roll but that's just on the way to eating it. Chewing it is not an end in itself. So I am now opposed to all chocolate chewing gum no matter how good. Chocolate is made to be eaten, not chewed.

The first thing that hit me was the yucky weird taste. After a while, it tastes a little better, maybe because you are over the initial shock and horror? By the time it lost its flavor, I was reminded of hot cocoa mix and plastic. Not good. And each piece has 25 calories! More than a Tootsie Roll Midgee! No good, no good at all.

Ah - I AM going to get to talk about Predictably Irrational after all! In fact, it's the only thing that can explain how the tasters at Hershey allowed this nastiness to bear the Hershey name. Let's begin with the premise that the folks at Hershey decided they wanted to make chocolate gum (the train went off the tracks right here - no one stopped to consider if this was a good idea or not. Or maybe they asked some kids - kids will agree to anything that involves chocolate). But chocolate flavor adds nothing to bubble gum and gum adds nothing to chocolate. But I bet they decided to make a chocolate gum regardless.

Once you've decided to make a chocolate gum, you produce some samples. Some are probably horrible, but you keep trying. The investment of money and energy, etc. increases. Because you have worked so hard and spent so much time, when you get a chocolate gum that tastes much better than the initial chocolate gum - you throw a party and (irrationally) convince yourself you've got a mighty fine product! You only compared the final chocolate gum to the earlier crappy chocolate gum. You didn't compare it to regular bubble gum or a Snickers bar.

We like to compare things. We ask ourselves, "Would I rather marry Joe or Bob?" not "Do I really want to get married at all?" And we compare similar things - if you are trying to choose one of three vacation sites and two are in the beach and one is in the mountains, you are going to the beach (the odds are higher than 2 out of 3). So says the book. Fascinating!

Let's just pray no one decides to make peanut butter gum.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Thank the good Lord that you are out there, braving the taste testing for the rest of us!
I think that when people make those horrible products, they are definitely testing it on crazy maniac 5-year-old boys like mine. That would be the only conceivable reason it would ever make it to a store shelf. I am fascinated, however, by the concept of comparison and how it affects our decision making. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this!