Sunday, 24 March 2013


One of the most prized directives in the corporate witch-doctor’s bag of tricks is the need to identify your mighty enterprise with a small town or rural location. Plant the idea in the public mind that yours is a business just like the reader’s – you struggle along against all the obstacles that government puts in your path making just enough profit to keep going. At the end of the day you are just plain folks, nothing fancy or pretentious to unsettle the customer. The makers of Beech-Nut Gum made the most of their small town origin in the Mohawk Valley town of Canajoharie employing the service of a bucolic Adonis complete with pitchfork to bring the news to the visitor from the city. Just a bunch of local boys who got together to process wholesome smoked country hams and invented the vacuum jar – everything from ketchup to jam, from peanut butter to marmalade went into those jars until chewing gum was added to the product lines. To overcome the problem of pronouncing Canajoharie it was renamed Flavor-Town. 

Now for a Declaration of Bias – I have the undiluted petit-bourgeois aversion to the habit of chewing slabs of synthetically flavoured latex. The mechanical rhythms of the rotating jaw and associated vacuous facial distortions are self-inflicted and everyone has a right to look stupid, but the practice of transferring discarded gum to the clothing and footwear of strangers via the agency of table undersides and public seating is genuinely objectionable. So shed no tears for the demise of Beech-Nut. The company was swallowed up and spat out by a succession of competitors including Life Savers, Squibb, Nabisco, Nestlé, Ralston Purina, Madison Dearborn and the Hero Group. Somewhere in this marathon the gum expired and all that remains today is baby food. In 2011 the very last production facility in Flavor-Town moved elsewhere. 

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