Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mentos: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I was eight years old when I was first introduced to Mentos.

Those chewy, candy-like, white orbs packed with an explosion of mint revealed themselves to me in the 1995 Alicia Silverstone sleeper hit “Clueless”.

My 10- and 11-year-old cousins, who were clearly much cooler than I – seeing as they were older and therefore wiser – utilized their cunning skills to convince their parents to not only buy Clueless but to let my younger sister and I watch it with them. I am forever indebted to them for giving me my first look at what High School was going to be like (according to early/mid 90’s social stereotypes).

Despite its unrealistic plot, the film does resonate with a generation of young people who have embraced Clueless for what it is – an adaptation of what it’s like to be a clueless teenager living in a high-class part of California during a tragic time for fashion trends.

But there’s more to the movie than greasy hair, flannel shirts, feathered bangs, and Valley Girl-Talk.

A co-worker of mine went to Costco over the weekend. While there, she bought a giant case of every flavor of Mentos known-to-man. The only fair thing to do was to share the wealth. So she offered each of us a pack of the “Freshmaker”.

They were in a word: Delish.

The next day, I was asked by the same co-worker, “So … have you enjoyed any Mentos yet?”

I replied with a “yes, of course” and an “I loved them”, followed up with a re-telling of my favorite Mentos-Clueless story.

It was then I realized, “This is why I’m a writer!”

How did I realize this? Simple. I equated a package of chewy mints with my memory of a 90’s teen movie seen with my cousins before I was even in the double-digit age range all for the sole purpose of commiserating with my co-work and showing her my thanks for the free pack of Freshmakers. In short, I can recall pop culture moments that mean nothing and turn ‘em into something worth reading.

And now, I'd like to channel the moment Travis Birkenstock (played by Breckin Meyer) thanks debate teacher Mr. Hall for receiving ("by far") the most tardies in the class (if you've seen Clueless, you know what I'm talking about):

I'll take this opportunity to thank the following individuals who have contributed to my writing this story. First, thanks to the fine folks at Mentos for creating such a delectable and easy-to-tote, minty-fresh treat. Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd for their semi-realistic roles as young adults struggling with their teenage lives on the silver screen. And mostly, Brittany Murphy for "taking a chance on an unknown kid" by singing the Mentos gingle during the movie – forever etching the tune into my memory.

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