# # Artificial Mystery Flavor

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Artificial Mystery Flavor

So I’m at the bank depositing a check when, at the end of the transaction, the teller asks, in the depths of her professional rut: “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

Now people learn, after just a few transactions with me, not to ask such questions but this woman has never served me before and, thus, has no idea just what kind of ass is on the other side of the glass.

That being said, it’s right after lunch and I am now, officially, an old man, so my brain is sluggish. Instead of something unsavory, impossible, or even witty, I reply “Well, if you have any candy lying around … ”

Well, of *course* she does, you boob.

What I really should have asked for was a live coelacanth, a portrait of the queen on rollerskates, or huge bags of cash but I ask for something rather obvious, rather typical and, instead of a laugh or even some nice awkward confusion, I end up with two Dum Dums (watch it bub – I saw your lips starting to move) and a “you’re embarrassing” from my otherwise, hard-to-ruffle girlfriend.


So here I am with hard candy on a paper stick. Oh, joy. I can feel my teeth dissolving just looking at them, so I toss them into the center console and my passenger’s demeanor goes from scandalized to excited 3-year-old as she bounces up and down in the seat, hands fairly clapping: “What flavors’d we get?!?” And she grabs them.

“Ew,” she exclaims, “this one’s ‘Mystery.’ I’ll take the other: it’s ‘Cotton-Candy’,” and she rips off the wrapper: “Mmm – it does! It tastes just like cotton-candy!”

“Ew,” I echo, out of step but in time, if you follow.

I examine my own candy: “Artificial Mystery Flavorâ„¢”

Wait … what? *Artificial* Mystery Flavor?

This means someone knows what the flavor is, right? That the company’s just being coy? Or does it mean that the flavor of the candy *is* that of mystery … but flavored artificially; no actual scrapings from Poirot’s shoes or Sherlock Holmes’ pipe were taken?

And it’s a trademarked flavor. How do you trademark the flavor of mystery (artificial or not)? If I eat something and can’t figure out what it tastes like, is the manufacturer going to get sued or does my inability to pinpoint the flavor make the mystery (and thus the trademark transgression) mine? How will it be enforced?

A bit of this ceaseless blather slops out of my head to my girlfriend and I hear, from around a mouthful of faux cotton-candy, of Hidden Valley Ranch’s ill-conceived “New Improved Original Recipe” campaign, which further deepens the real (not artificial) mystery of market-speak: ever to be pondered, never to be plumbed.

We head back to work with only the wet clack of hard candy on my compatriot’s molars to disturb my troubled mental wanderings.

Later that afternoon, I discover that “artificial mystery” tastes an awful lot like root beer.

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3 Responses to “Artificial Mystery Flavor”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Any one of the regular flavors might be in the wrapper. It’s more “surprise” than “mystery”. But you knew that.

  2. cae says:

    I know that and you know that but the wording on the label is a mess. But you knew that. =)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mine was grapelike, Artificial, no doubt. I wonder what genuine mystery flavor tastes like.

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