FIREWORK OREOS, said the package. It was red, white and blue, because it's ... May. The package also bragged that this was a "Limited Edition," which suggests they're signed and numbered. Key detail: "With Popping Candy!" You know what that means. The sensation of having a mouthful of termites.
I tried one. It was underwhelming. There was a little crackle, but I didn't want to hang bunting and wave flags and shout "God bless Benjamin Franklin." The Oreo, in other words, had failed to increase my appreciation of the Constitution.
It's a waste of a teachable moment. The ads could show a professor and a student discussing the Oreo as a metaphor.
Prof: "Think of the two circles as the disparate political ideologies in our country, and the Constitution as the cream filling that binds them into one delicious unity. And sometimes we, as a people, twist it all apart and scrape off the Constitution with our teeth. And that's our right."
Student: "But what about Hydrox? Is that like, the Articles of Confederation?"
Prof: "It's more like the Canadian Constitution. Similar in form with fewer customers. Also, Hydrox sounds like something that burns if you get it in your eyes."
Surely Oreo tested the level of crackle power in their cookies and studied the results. These were the likely results:
Batch No. 1: Very noisy. Focus group reported nosebleeds and tinnitus for several days.
Batch No. 2: Too subtle. One tester said, "The sound of the crackle additives was like waking from a dream in which fairies broke twigs down the hall, and the sensation was akin to a fragment of aluminum touching a filling for a millisecond." The other testers said, "That guy talked like that all through the session. He was just weird."
Batch No. 3, code-named "Mega-Crackle": Survivors reported that they spat teeth and barfed sparks.
Batch No. 4, code-named "Goldilocks": Comments included, "The sensation was obvious but muted, like an old lady in the car in the next lane yelling at me from behind a rolled-up window." Most participants agreed they would have bought them once just to try them and would not be soured on the general idea of Oreos if they found these cookies to be insufficiently percussive. So that's the version we got.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-food-novelty. It's what keeps the grocery store experience interesting. My mother shopped the Supervalu for decades, and Oreos never changed. Nowadays they herald the changing of the seasons. The arrival of Pastel-cream Oreos means that winter is exiting and soon we will be celebrating the arrival of the Blessed Bunny; when orange-filling Oreos arrive on a warm September day, we know it is time to gather in the sheaves and put up the beets and prepare for the long winter, which is when red-and-green Oreos will arrive.
For now, though, it's red-white-and-blue all over, and it's not just Oreos. Little Debbie Cakes, a staple of bleak break rooms with a flickering fluorescent light and a pot of coffee that's been on the burner for six hours, recently inflicted red-white-and-blue Baseball Cakes on the world. One bite reminds you of Babe Ruth saying, "Fourscore and seven years ago," and hitting a ball clean over the Berlin Wall.
And there will be more red-white-blue stuff as the weeks go on.
One small request: Please stop.
It's not that I don't appreciate patriotic messages; I do. I wish there were more. I wish Kellogg's made Eighth Amendment Mini-Wheats. ("The taste is almost too much! But excessive bail is unconstitutional, and it's one of the things that makes the rule of law important and unique. Now with niacin!")
But the more they push red-white-and-blue in June, the more our minds slide to July 4th. You know how summers go: After the 4th you blink and it's the penultimate day of the State Fair. June is the most precious of months, and it needs its own color. Deep Green would be apt, but that belongs to Erin-go-begorrah-hic! St. Patrick's Day. Yellow would be good, because of the dandelions, but spring claimed that one.
I propose deep blue. The color of the lakes. The color of the sky.
And if they don't sell? Market them in January, when it's the color of our lips and toes.