Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Disappeared

You know what frustrates me?  What's frustrated me for a very long time?  Ever had this experience?

A couple years ago, I found what I consider to be the ideal sugar free gum.  The taste bursts in the mouth and lasts much longer than other gums.  And the flavors!  Raspberry Sorbet, Cool Lemon, Peppermint with the punch of a York Peppermint Patty, Spearmint that tingles, tangly Kiwi Watermelon and Wintergreen that's cool and smooth.  Each piece is a cute little cube.  You'd think the world would love this gum from Ice Breakers by Hershey's.  I looked forward to many years of gum-chewing pleasure. 

But no.  A couple months ago I noticed that all of a sudden the inventory of this gum at the store had shrunken dramatically.  When I shopped for gum a couple weeks ago, I found only the raspberry and wintergreen flavors in the economy size plastic cups.  Nooooooo!  Say it ain't so!  Once again, something that I love is disappearing.

I seized the opportunity at a conference last year to corner a sales rep for Abbott Laboratories.  I wanted him to explain to me why Abbott had stopped making the Wild Berry flavor of their popular Ensure nutrition supplement drink.  Know what he told me?  You can probably guess.  I had no clue until he told me.  I thought of course my favorite flavors were everyone else's, too; but no, Abbott Labs had stopped making Wild Berry flavor because it wasn't popular and sales were low.  I let him know that I was not pleased.  He offered coupons toward my next Ensure purchase.  Then Abbott went and changed the packaging, creating different kinds of Ensure to address different physical issues, e.g. muscle growth, immune system support.  I have no idea if the formulations truly are different for each kind.  Frankly, all I care about now is that they don't eliminate any more flavors I love.

Hamburger Helper used to offer a product called Rice Oriental.  I loved it.  Of course, they stopped making it.  Revlon used to make a perfume called Scoundrel that I loved.  To this day, I have no idea why they discontinued it.  Some other examples of "the disappeared": Simpsons postage stamps and Evergreen postage stamps, aerograms, purple ink Papermate stick pens, a totally rad sweater jacket that L. L. Bean used to sell (but no more), and the TV show Lie to Me.  

Why does this happen?  Why do things I love disappear?  I know, I know.  It's the rule of the almighty marketplace, and as the Abbott sales rep said so succinctly, "Low sales."  Gone are the days when products continue on because they are quality products even if they have less than stellar sales.  I mourn for all "the Disappeareds" in my life.  They force me to face the fickle tastes of the general population.  They force me to find another "love," even as I fear that that love will also disappear.

Physical existence on this planet involves the concepts of constant change and impermanence.  But why can't we have our favorite things always as a hedge against the inevitable?  Doomed, we are.  I say, we are doomed to re-live the loss of our favorite things, even life.....or maybe that store just decided not to carry Ice Cubes gum and it's really at other stores.  You think?

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