Monday, October 31, 2005

Death to the Twizzler

Good news on the licorice front. The SJ-R reported yesterday the return of the Switzer-brand to candy aisles where it will once again do battle with the King of the Red Twine, Twizzlers.

The reason this is good news, at least for those of us with a tooth for such things, is that Twizzlers is, what is known in boxing parlance, a paper champion. It may sit on the top of the heap as far as sales go and it may demand top placement from rack-jobbers stocking the candy display, but when it comes to the true taste experience, Twizzlers is living a lie.

Twizzlers is remarkable for its distinct lack of flavor. Its taste is certainly unobjectionable and it has a passable pliancy, but ultimately, it disappoints. The return of the Switzer will provide a quality and readily available licorice for those without the means or inclination to partake in boutique brands.

There are other licorice options at most grocers. I recently discovered a brand at Wal-Mart, although the name now escapes me. It comes in niblet form and has a tangy, citrus-y taste that elicits that “can’t eat just one” quality one expects from a good candy. The consistency of this confection, however, is probably too close to that of the "juju" or the "gummy" to be taken seriously by true licorice aficionados.

That Twizzlers remains the top-seller in its category despite its short-comings and the availability of superior alternatives should not be a surprise to those who observe market behavior. McDonald’s is regularly given low marks in taste tests of fast-food burgers, yet it sells billions. Dominoes delivers pies at a Wal-Street pleasing pace despite the presence in almost every town of a quality pizzeria. And while many may swear that Starbucks does have the best-tasting coffee, they didn’t becomes this country’s favorite retailer of stomach-agitating liquids because of the quality of their beans or the superiority of their brewing methods.

The reason that these aforementioned brands have hit it big, and crushed many a competitor along the way, is that they have made themselves available in a way that would have made merchants from an earlier day blush like handmaidens. I read an article recently that debunked the notion that Starbucks success is based on a strong branding campaign, but is instead a result of setting up shop on every downtown block of every major city. Anyone who has ever been to Seattle knows that one wrong turn will likely land you in line for a latte. Given the addictive properties of their caffeine-intensive discharge, this is the equivalent of a street gang setting up a dealer on every corner, pretty soon they’re bound to control the city’s entire drug trade.

This tactic to dominate the marketplace reminds me of a Woody Allen quote: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Allen may be the exception to this dictum because despite putting out some truly great films, especially in the 70s, he seems to be showing up lately with some pretty dismal movies that garner but a fraction of his early success. Despite this, there is much truth to be learned from these words.

To entrepreneurs, it says to tarry not with perfection, but to get your wares to market.

As an axiom for the common man, it can provide succor to one with little to offer in terms of skills and intelligence. If that person can be relied upon to show up to work everyday, he should never want for gainful employment.

If you want to get all existentialist about it, then you need only to look to more wisdom from the Wood-man: "I don't want to achieve mortality through my work. . . I want to achieve it through not dying." In other words, every time you draw a breath you’re on top of your Earthly-game.

Although I kneel at the altar of meritocracy, I recognize that ambition often outshines ability. How else can you explain Steven Seagal? So it is our duty to encourage the Switzers of the world to enter the free-market fray and dispose those content to sit upon a throne made only of their own pretension.


Anonymous said...

Red or black? What is your choice?

It's all good, but let me here and now warn you off of Altoids Liquorice flavor.

Jeeeezus, Gawd-awful bad, I mean dis-gusting.

And I'll never get drunk on Ouzo again, though I think that it is Anise-flavored. Hey, when I was 17, I thought it was black licorice in a bottle. Mama mia, OW! That hurt. Live and learn.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

I'm simply red. I don't like black licorice.

Actually, I haven't had black licorice since I was a kid so, as with so many things, I might have a new found appreciation of black if only I would open myself up to diversity.

Anonymous said...

I could never stand black either and still don't. Red is my choice. I am glad that the best will be coming back. Love good liquorice.

Monkey Boy said...

In the immortal words of The Allman Brothers Band....."I'm a ramblin gamblin man"

I must emphasize that rambling part.

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