Friday, May 25, 2007

The Conversion of Edwin

I'm mad at the Hershey company. I have been for several years.

The Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar was once packaged in a foil wrapper with a paper slip cover over it. The design was simple, but classic. And when I say classic, I mean that it was the same basic packaging they'd been using since 1912.

As a fan of the product, I was impressed. Hershey stuck to it's guns even when all the other candy bars were coming out with gaudy, glossy wrappers. Twix, for instance, used to come in a dull, tan wrapper that had this weird "soft" way of tearing open. But then Mars changed it to the shiny, gold wrapper that's used today.

That was in 1997.

I know that because I remember the first shiny one I bought.

I got it from a vending machine in my building. I didn't notice the change until after I picked it up from behind the magic trap door, ever valiant defender of the vending machine industry. I was let down, somehow so hurt at this unnecessary alteration. On the way back to my room, a girl held the elevator for me.

"Is that some special kind of Twix?!"

"No . . . no it's a regular Twix. They . . . they just changed the wrapper."

" . . . oh"

She was let down too! I felt so bad for her. One moment excited about a limited-time variation on her favorite cookie bars. The next deflated, defeated. And I had to be the one to tell her.

But it wasn't like that with Hershey's. Oh no. Foil. Paper slip cover. Done.

I like to imagine that there was once a big board meeting in Hershey, PA, at a 50 foot table in front of a chocolate waterfall, where some young snot suggested they change the Milk Chocolate Bar wrapper.

"It's so boring! And why is it brown! Let's talk to the ad guys, see if they can come up with something that will appeal more to kids! Like a bright, glossy red, and 'Hershey's' written so it looks like it's breaking through a sheet of glass!"

Then there was a long silence. And the president, an older gentleman who I'm choosing to believe was named Edwin Hershey, looked down past the whole table of executives to the security guard by the door. The security guard was the same age as President Hershey, in fact they started work on the same day and still played golf together, and he quietly put his newspaper under his chair. All the execs looked down at the table and fiddled with their pens while the guard's footsteps echoed past the first 25 feet of table.

"Sir, I'm going to need you to come with me."

And no one at the company ever saw that guy again. He probably works for Hydrox now.

But it didn't last. In 2003, Hershey's finally changed to a plastic wrapper. I was very disappointed in them. Still am.

Isn't that strange, though? How much we resist even the smallest changes? Or, at least, the changes we have no control over. That's the catch. No one buys a new car and starts yelling "I can't believe I'm driving this new car! The old one was a classic! What was wrong with the old one?!"

We don't fear change. We fear not being relevant. Realizing that difference gives you a new perspective on every old person, some of whom are as young as 18, who rant about how things are changing for the worse.

- "That song remake just isn't right" (Even though the original is still available.)

- "Movies aren't as good as they used to be" (Conveniently, they only remember the good old movies and forget about 'Monster A Go-Go')

- "Robots are everywhere, and someday they're going to take over" (This one is actually true, I humbly welcome our positronic masters.)

I think about these things whenever I catch myself maligning some trivial passage. If I can rid myself of "the way things ought to be", maybe I won't get old. Not really.*

*This does not excuse the Hershey company.

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