Schrödinger's Cookie


Pop quiz. When I say these flavors, what do you think of? Biscuits and Gravy, Greek Gyro, BLT, Cappucino and NY Reuben. Well, I’ll tell you what I don’t think of. Lay’s Potato Chips. But that’s what they are. The result of Lay’s “Do Us Flavor” campaign of limited-edition chips.

OK, let’s try again. Jelly Donut, Mississippi Mud Pie, Raspberry Danish, English Breakfast Tea and, wait for it…Swedish Fish. Give up? Oreos.

Marketing folks know that any time you create a line extension, one consideration is whether or not it will cannibalize your mainline product. However, the greatest worry is always: “Will it degrade the brand?”.

New flavors can breathe life and excitement into somewhat boring consumer staples. Happily, they give their social media teams something to tweet about. But they beg the existential question: When does an Oreo become not an Oreo? When does it become a parody of itself?

Experimentation and innovation energize and revitalize brands. But care should be taken that we don’t try too hard to fix something that isn’t broken. I mean, yesterday I walked by Pumpkin Spice Twinkies in the store. Is nothing sacred?