I had to pause when I passed a vending machine and noticed a picture of a juicy hot dog on one of the snack packages. "How odd," I thought, as I stopped to take a look.
"Coney Island Hot Dog With Mustard Potato Chips," it shouted in bright purple, yellow, and green.
Now, I've seen my share of odd foods, but this one was just so unnatural, so jarring, and my will so weak in the face of cheesy gimmicks and packaging that I had to be the good little consumer and drop two quarters in the slot and picked up my snack. The back of the bag read like a tourist brochure:
"Welcome to Coney Island. Take a stroll and enjoy the mouth-watering taste of hot dogs with mustard flavor in this premium potato chip. It's a taste so authentic, you'll almost be able to feel the ocean breeze and hear the sounds of the boardwalk."
It reminded me of an old Trader Vic's menu, promising a quick escape, a slice of paradise on the cheap, an "authentic" sensual experience. Now, I know that consuming a few Trader Vic's Mai Tais will mentally deliver me to another world. Would Synder's hot dog flavored potato chips do the same?
Opening the bag, I was hit with the unmistakable scent of hot dogs and the chips' taste was as advertised. The flavor might best be described as the aftertaste you have about a minute after eating a hot dog. Lightly meaty and oniony, with a trace of mustard. I sat in my office, closed my eyes, and ate chip after chip. Junk food, take me away! Whistling seagulls, fresh ocean breezes, the sound of breaking surf mixing with children's laughter... none of these things popped up in my head. Alas, with salty fingers and a greasy feeling in my mouth, I opened my eyes. No escapism here, but overall, not a bad meat-flavored chip experience. Savory and satisfactory, actually, though not good enough that I will ever buy them again.
I would like to have been in the board room when somebody suggested starting a line of hot-dog flavored chips. It's really bizarre. I suspect that the idea behind offering hot dog chips as a product is based on idiots like me purchasing something out of a sheer WTF? factor. WTF marketing, it seems, is a great new marketing technique for targeting mental weaklings like me. How else can I explain the furry Domo-Kun tchotchke and the stoic Moai kleenex dispenser sitting on my bookcase?