Monday, December 24, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 5 in the series)

On this Christmas Eve, I think it's really important that we all gather tonight, thank each other for simply being there, and explain that Popcorn is not a viable gift option.

Despite what years and years of indoctrination might have told you, not everyone loves popcorn with caramel on it. It's good, sure, but it's also very 1950's, and a tin of butter, cheese, and caramel makes me think I should go test out the bomb shelter in case Russia steps it up. So please, no tins of popcorn, it's gross. Even if it is only $1.49.

The kind of popcorn I'm actually worried about, however, and the topic of this conversation, is Trail's End popcorn. For those of you not in the know, Trail's End is the Boy Scouts' brand popcorn. Apparently women make cookies, and men make popcorn. That's just how life works. I can give first hand proof that people are far far more receptive to a sweet girl with cookies at their door than they are to awkward boys selling popcorn. Too many times did I ring doorbells, trying to sell popcorn nobody wants and got doors slammed in my face, oftentimes by old men who clearly had that, "When I was your age, I worked in coal mines" look to them. One time, my German neighbor, while brandishing a couple fingers of scotch, pushed his wife out of the way and took the opportunity to curse us out for trying to sell them Trail's End popcorn. That's the legacy. In later years (like...6th grade...) I learned to bring my sister with me, and to present her in the forefront of the sales pitch. Sure, you can say no to me, but what about my little sister, who had to walk all the way to your door just to look up at you and hint at tears. Yeah-- buy my freakin' popcorn.

Well, today I came home to find a package of Trail's End popcorn on the counter. From the single package purchase, it was pretty clear it was an Appeasement Purchase (not an indie band) and I nodded with empathy. I imagined the chubby little kid, wandering up to my door, seeing my bearded dad answer the door when he wasn't expecting anyone, and fearing momentarily for his life. "Want to buy some popcorn?" he probably asked. "It takes a long time to get, it's over-priced, it's unhealthy, still not very good, and you can get a tastier version at your local supermarket....but it goes to help the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts/or my all time favorite "Webelos" (actually an acronym for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts" which, in the context of pedophilia within the organization, is the creepiest of Boy Scout troops)..."

I'm sure my Dad hesitated a minute and then dutifully got out his checkbook. The six to eight weeks passed, and now we have a box of popcorn. So I understood the process. THEN I CHECKED THE PACKAGE!

A lot has changed on the Trail's End package since I sold it. Apparently there is "No Diacetyl Flavoring" which probably means, "Tastes Awful" but maybe it's a step. Then it says, "On Average 70% goes to local scouting!" First of all, it's vague. Does it go to a sports team who gets to scout players? Does it go to troop leaders who get to spend some money to recruit better children? Is there an influx of Cuban scouts in the more wealthy scouting communities? Are they automatically given swimming merit badges upon arrival? Secondly, where's the other 30% go? It implies it goes to the greater Boy Scouts organization, but it could go anywhere! Trail's End Corporation, The Romney Campaign, the purchasing of girl scout cookies. Anywhere.

Then I saw something which put the other issues to shame. In our world, it has become common place for products to lie in their marketing-- a little. They stretch the truth, skew facts, and leave out statistics. "Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper..." more than what? Cats? "Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper than Cats do!" wouldn't sell. "Our product tastes better than the competition" claim a lot of brands. Or how about, "World's Best Shake/Burger/Pizza!" Generally, not the case. But they don't just lie with no basis. Here's what Trail's End popcorn proclaims on its box: "ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE WITH POPCORN!" and there is a picture of an asian youth, wearing a helmet, holding a paddle, and kayaking on popcorn. (deep sigh)

I don't really know where to begin. I think we can all agree that anything is, in fact, NOT possible with popcorn. You can eat it. That's one. You can throw it, that's two. You can string it, that's three. And you can fund the Boy Scouts and potentially other organizations by selling it. That's four. Four things. The slogan should say, "FOUR THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH POPCORN!" and show a white kid with glasses in a comic strip style setup, first eating, then throwing, then stringing, then earning merit badgets, and then sitting bored out of his mind. Granted, not as catchy. It seems like blatant misuse of the medium by the Trail's End corporation and the Boy Scouts of America. We know exactly what's possible with popcorn-- why try and lie to us and push your agenda so translucently. It pains me to see Trail's End reduced to such betrayal and falsehoods to gain America's trust. But I still don't want it for Christmas. Oh, and guess what? Yeah, I donated a goat to a village in Africa-- who knew.

Happy holidays to everyone, thanks for reading, Merry Christmas to everyone tomorrow, and remember that love and appreciation are...not as cool as cash donations.


P.S. Remember: Christmas is not just about giving and receiving gifts. It's about receiving gifts that when added up are worth more than the aggregate of the gifts you have given. And it's about some dude...


JKow said...

Is it weird that there were scouts offering me free samples of their home-made fudge in a subway station? (true story)

Witz said...

By my count there are eight words in that sentence that could be euphamisms or metaphors-- I think that makes officially makes it weird.

JKow said...

I'm just making my way home from work and I'm a little hungry when BAM!- Chris Hanson's telling me to keep my hands where he can see them.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jon,

Why don't you lay off the Starcraft and cookie bars, and spend your time putting up another post?

Don't tell me you are too busy watching your family's VHS copy of Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit!

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