May 1997
s m u g
net worth
by Todd Levin

Recently, while engaging in my favorite office pastime - entering domain names in the Internic whois interface to see if odd web domain names have been purchased and by whom - I discovered that the "" domain was not available for registering. Worse yet, the name was already registered by the Indiana Sugar Company, a clear competitive front in the "snacking urge" marketing game. What follows is a dramatization of events which may or may not have already occurred in this decisive strike on Marketing Dominance on a battleground where salty and sweet are as important as Mohammed and Krishna. Certain names have been changed to protect myself from researching the real names. Otherwise, everything, to the best of my knowledge, is completely true.

The scene is a corporate boardroom high above the Gary, Indiana sugar mines. Viewable from the window are the enormous, menacing sugar towers most Americans have only read about in history books. Men, women and a handful of obese six-year olds, with sharp suits and rotted-out teeth, are seated around a giant, oak conference table. The table has been dipped in candy apple syrup and has since hardened and been polished into an attractive and delicious cherry buff.

T. Walter Abscess, President and CEO of the Indiana Sugar company, seated at the head of the table, is sucking candy buttons off a wet strip of stock ticker paper which is being fed noisily through a ticker-tape machine at the far end of the conference room. After an uncomfortable silence, save for the occasional slurping sounds coming from T. Walter or a couple of the other shareholders munching busily on confections, T. Walter clears his throat, braces both strong hands against the end of the boardroom table and speaks in a voice louder than the Kool-Aid Man.

"Respected shareholders of the Indiana Sugar Company, today is a good day for refined sugars!"

A resounding round of enthusiastic applause booms throughout the boardroom, as each in attendance hangs on every sugary-sweet word of T. Walter. Unable to control his excitement, A VP of Marketing begins wildly stuffing his mouth with gummi worms.

"Now, now, Stevens. No need to cut off your breathing supply with gelatin and corn syrup - not just yet, anyway. Admittedly, I may at times possess a tendency to, shall we say, overindulge in the importance of events here at the Indiana Sugar Company. Now, sometimes this overindulgence is completely justified, as with the release and distribution of Wax Lips, a decidedly huge boon to the business of making confections. And sometimes it explodes in our collective face, as it did with the release and distribution of Wax Sores, an embarrassment to our business and a general period of considerable unease in the entire industry. But I am definitely getting one of those feelings. One of those feelings that we, as a world power, a commanding force over the snack yearnings of the global population, are on the cusp of - and here I go again - on the cusp of the final conflict with the ones I will refer to only as 'The Other.'"

"Ladies and Gentlemen, trusted shareholders of the Indiana Sugar Company, Billy, Amanda, little Timmy - as you all know, we have been in a bitter struggle with the manufacturers and refiners of salt for dominance of the world's tastebuds. Jobs have been lost, third world villages reduced to rubble, lives sacrificed to angry pagan fire gods, and all for very good reasons - there were good reasons for dropping that bus filled with schoolchildren into a live volcano, weren't there, Stevens? Anyhow, I will admit, though it chafes me considerably to do so, that we have been in a deadlock with the salt people since the dawn of snacking. We release pudding pops, they release Cool Ranch Doritos. We release Frankenberry; they counterattack with Ritz Bits. We can't seem to gain ground for very long without those crafty sons of bitches - forgive my language, little Timmy - following our every move with another repulsively salty success. As you all know, our only effort to combine our cumulative powers - the Chocolate Covered Salt Lick - tested well but was nonetheless never able to really get mainstream distribution. And ever since then, it's been guerilla war."

"This battle has been waged across continents, across time. And now, as the millenium approaches, we have even moved into Virtual space in our quest to forever quench the known universe's snack yearnings with tooth-freshening, glorious sugary sweets."

For effect, T. Walter pulls on a rope which is dangling from the ceiling slightly above his head, releasing a shower of Reggie Bars which the shareholders scramble and scratch to devour, often without even removing the waxy cardboard backing.

"Our New Media Research department - known to many of you as our 'Freak Media' department - has been investigating developing an online presence for the Indiana Sugar company. We are trying to make the world aware of the importance of sugar in our lives and are trying as always to reach that slippery, media-savvy Generation-X demographic, which our research has revealed apparently enjoys sugary snacks and salty snacks from time to time but has difficulty making life-long commitments to either. We have even instituted a catch phrase for the site - "Sugar is Radically Sweet to the Extreme, Dudes!!!" - and have inundated the site with brightly colored, MTV-style images of long-haired hippie types snowboarding on mountains of wet sugar and bungee jumping into large piles of confectionery sugar. Kudos to our Consumer Marketing department, Degenerate Post-Adolescent Division, for all of their hard work in nailing down this demographic's tastes and lifestyles."

"Now I know many of you are thinking, 'Well, the salt manufacturers can't be far behind. Surely they must be launching their own strike, perhaps a web site featuring young, groovy adults bungee jumping into huge piles of salt or something.' Well, hee hee hee, forgive me for giggling like a schoolgirl sitting on a garden sprinkler, but I am having one of those moments where I feel as though I am holding the Sword of Damocles and all of you will be caught by surprise and dismembered. And now I would like to turn the table over to Tom Simonds, our new New Media Research Manager. Tom?"

Low mumblings, murmurings, and the faint sound of an infant weeping for its mother's teat can be heard as all heads turn this way and that, trying to pick Mr. Simonds out in the room. Slowly, a man rises from a chair at the rear of the room. He is slight, nearly swimming in his suit, with a small mustache covering an almost nonexistent upper lip. He composes himself, removes the colorful, oversized all-day sucker from his mouth, and approaches the front of the room.

"Hi, everyone. Thanks T. Walter, and thank you for those wonderful bonuses this year. Right everyone?? I will never tire of having that familiar semi-truck pull up to my slightly depreciated split-level ranch home to drop off my cubic ton of Choc-O-Diles. And that's not sucking up, although it probably sounds like that's exactly what it is. Anyway, in researching a possible web strategy by our competition, I decided to begin at the beginning and check through the Internic to determine whether 'The Other' had registered '' as their corporate domain name. Oh, I see some of you are a bit confused. Can someone explain what the Internic does? Little Timmy?"

"The Internic is a governing body through which all upper level domain names are determined and the privately held channel through which all corporate and public domain name registering services are performed."

"Thanks, Timmy. I'm sure there will be an extra Scooter Pie in your In Box this afternoon. Anyway, a funny thing happened. I performed a whois search to see who had registered '' as their corporate site name and I discovered that NO ONE had."

An awe-inspiring hush falls over the room, as the marketing wheels begin to silently turn.

"Naturally, I seized on the moment and registered the name to our company. Which means that should 'The Other' desire to develop a web presence, they will have to forgo using '' unless they wish to purchase or barter the name from us. This means that, essentially, they are blocked from developing a web presence and it also means that Cyberspace is ours for the taking. And the rest, shall we say, will be history."

An enormous ovation follows, wherein Tom Simonds is carried around on the shoulders of his superiors and Little Timmy's head, inexplicably, ends up on a sharp pike which one of the VPs of Distribution and Dental Hygiene Anti-Propaganda marches around with proudly like it is some sort of Mardi Gras float.

After the room is composed, T. Walter rises and approaches a chart stand concealed by a sheet. He addresses the room once again.

"Please, I appreciate your applause. Mr. Simonds, thank you very much. And will someone from maintenance please remove Little Timmy's decapitated carcass? I would like to show you all something which might better illustrate how the taking of '' will affect the taste bud industry. But first, are there any questions?"

"Yes, T. Walter. Isn't it possible that 'The Other' could simply register '' and continue to compete with us across the Internet?"

"Ah, well, let me think. Security, please remove this man at once and rend his flesh slowly and painfully."

Two hulking security guards burst into the room and remove the ne'er-do-well to rend his flesh slowly and painfully.

"As I was saying, I would like to show you all this chart. As you can see, it is a diagram of the human tongue with all of the taste buds pointed out. We have sweet [applause], hot, sour, and salty [boos and hisses and a loud "motherfucking cocksuckers!!" fill the room]. Now, as you all know we have a very strong alliance with sour, and we have had some success in the past in cooperatives with hot, particularly in Southeast Asia. Now let me show you what this chart might look like in five years after we have successfully dominated Virtual space: As you can see, the area which salty previously occupied is now replaced by a new taste bud sensation called really sweet. I am confident that five years is all it will take to cause an evolutionary adjustment in all human taste buds to eliminate the salty sensation and replace it with the new really sweet sensation for which our researchers are currently working like huskies to develop supporting products.

"To that end, as we speak here, I have already funded an international task force to travel the globe and replace all popcorn salt shakers at movie theaters with sugar shakers. This is just for test-marketing purposes. But if this goes as planned, as I stand here today, I can confidently say: Today popcorn. Tomorrow, the entire tongue!!! Sieg Heil!!"

The room explodes, literally, as all of the shareholders and T. Walter Abscess himself burst from excitement. From their bodies rains a shower of colorfully wrapped candies and small plastic toys and baubles. The doors to the boardroom fly open and a herd of eight-year-olds run in, scrambling to scoop up every last shiny, sweet object in the room. And even god would agree with T. Walter Abscess: today was a good day for sugar.

back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·three dollar bill· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·junk drawer·

copyright © 1996, 1997 fearless media