Willy Wonka and the Anthropomorphic Candy

You know what are great? Nerds candy. They always have been and always will be quite awesome. In fact, I had some recently and they were tasty and good. End of story. End of blog post. Have a nice day.

But seriously, as I was eating these delicious little nuggets of crystallized sucrose, I noticed something rather startling. You see, like many products designed for kids, the esteemed Willy Wonka has seen fit to provide the eponymous Nerds with various anthropomorphic qualities, turning the candy itself into adorable little creatures with no arms and big noses:

Clearly these Nerds are XTREME!

Clearly these Nerds are XTREME!

Note the happy nature of the little guys. They’re skateboarding, rollerblading, playing Frisbee, tossing around a beach ball … all without a care in the world.

Until you pluck them from their joyful existence and devour the entire colony whole.

You are Gargamel and they are the Smurfs. Only this time, Gargamel wins.

Sure, the anthropomorphic nature of food and candy and whatnot is nothing new or earth-shattering. There are undoubtedly hundreds of examples of companies slapping googly eyes on something and calling it a day, such as the creatively-bankrupt Nugget Buddies at McDonald’s.

But to fully understand the true nature of Nerds, we have to look at something a little more similar than hunks of deep-fried chicken. Thus, I present to you Exhibit B — fellow Wonka product, Runts:

Not quite as XTREME as the Nerds.

Not quite as XTREME as the Nerds.

Look familiar? I would hope so, as the designers of this box did the same thing as the geniuses behind the Nerds box — they slapped some eyes, sunglasses, and various sporting goods onto their candy. Yet the effect is entirely different (for starters, I don’t feel that I’m committing genocide when I eat a box of Runts).

The reason? Well, with Nerds, you’re eating blobs of hardened sugar that come in a variety of random shapes and hundreds of crazy flavours. As such, there is no preconceived notion as to what a “Nerd” truly is. Therefore, you can attribute whatever characteristics you want to them before shoving them down your throat.

In comparison, when you eat Runts, you know that even though they may be wearing sunglasses and riding rollerblades, you’re still eating bananas and strawberries — and nothing more. A Nugget Buddy is just a tasty Chicken McNugget that happens to have the gift of sight. But really, what the hell is a Nerd, and why I am I eating them? It’s enough to stop filling your face for a second and ponder the mysteries of life.

Just for the record, I’m not some hippy vegetarian that refuses eat anything that has a face. I have absolutely no qualms about murdering an entire family of soccer-playing Nerds. But the fact that the anthropomorphizing of these two types of candies leads to two entirely different states of mind is an interesting observation, if I do say so myself.

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One Response

  1. Great post. Those Nerds are pretty addictive!

    I like product mascots like these and collect food packages. I was actually looking for a Runts box like this. If you have some for sale, please drop me an e-mail. Thanks!

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