After an adult lifetime of trying various products, I’ve settled into a pattern. There are some commodities I’ve come to love and trust after comparison with competing items.
For example, Blistex—the medicated lip balm in the little red and white tube. For me, nothing works as well. The ointment soaks into my lips quickly; soothes chapped tissues and softens dry spots. Just try to find it, though. A day or two ago I asked the front-end manager of the local branch of a big chain to help me find Blistex. He did. There were at least five different offerings: cool mint, roll-ons, and lipstick-type tubes. No plain old reliable Blistex. The manager said, “We don’t sell much of that anymore.” I guess not, if you don’t stock it. It must work too well.
Moving on to the grocery store, I looked for Cheerios. Plain, unflavored, unsugared Cheerios. I happen to love their taste. There were at least four different flavors featured. Such exotics as strawberry-banana-chocolate (I just made that up). It took me at least five minutes of examining every box on three shelves to find—hidden on the bottom shelf behind beebleberry-blast (I made that up too)—a lone box of plain Cheerios. I grabbed it and looked around to see if I was going to have to do battle to keep it. No one had observed, home free!
I’m a Southerner. I was born, reared and educated in the Deep South. Part of my frequent breakfast fare has always been hominy grits. I eat them with butter and a little black pepper. During my expedition to find Cheerios, I looked, just for the hell of it, at the grits. The same trolls of food commerce have invaded sacred territory! They’re messing with grits! I saw at least three different flavor selections.
If I wanted bacon drippings and cheese in my grits, I can do that on my own and the flavor will be customized to my palate. I don’t want some stranger with numb taste buds to decide how much cheese added makes cheese grits. Don’t tempt me to elbow the bags of ersatz flavored grits off the shelf.
A wonderful ad campaign could be built around “Customize your grits to your taste, we’ll suggest and you decide.”