Triumphs of Marketing – Love Potion Number 9

Love Potion Number 9 - It might be beetroot juice...

Love Potion Number 9 – It might be beetroot juice…

So there you are with your new date, the lights are low, music is playing softly in the background, you’ve showered, made sure that your underwear isn’t falling apart and any unsightly sprouting pubic hair has been dealt with. The only thing remaining to do is to seduce your partner into playing ‘Hide the Sausage’. Alas good manners dictate that you can’t come straight out with a crude statement of intent (Unless you live in Cardiff of course) so to make sure that your hoped for nocturnal gymnastics take place you have prepared some ‘Luuurrrrve-food’.

“Have some asparagus,” you say coaxingly. “I’ve rubbed some garlic on it.”

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, everything really, not least that your partner who was previously quite keen on you is now confronted with a glint-eyed lunatic who is trying to force-feed them vegetables. It’s not the time and place you see. In fact the time and the place when asparagus innuendo might have worked was England in the 17th century, whereas today Champagne and chocolates would be much more likely to get the pair of you uninhibitedly swapping body fluids.

This is because chocolate is seen in western society to be a mild aphrodisiac, although there is actually no evidence that chocolate physically makes people feel any sexier – what happens is that the idea of chocolate being an aphrodisiac convinces people that it is. It’s a classic case of mind over matter, and this trick of the mind where something works because you think that it will has been going on for at least the last 2,000 years.

"So he gives me some asparagus wiv garlic on it and I'm like: ARE YOU YOUR NUT MATE? Sheesh..."

“So he gives me some asparagus wiv garlic on it and I’m like: ARE YOU OFF YOUR NUT MATE? Sheesh…”

Avocado was the Viagra of the Aztecs who rather charmingly called the tree that it grew on ‘The Testicle Tree’. And avocado remained so entwined with cardinal sin that it was later banned in Spain during the middle ages for being too obcene. Other foods thought to have the ‘it’ factor in the past include cherries, bananas (well they would, wouldn’t they) brazil nuts, almonds, lettuce, figs, ginger and oysters.

Now sex sells, and getting your food product to be thought of as an aid to getting laid is pretty much the marketing executive’s holy grail. The problem of course is that you can’t claim that it works when patently it doesn’t.

However at least two companies have managed it.

The first is the brewer Guinness, whose bottled beer is thought in parts of Africa to give a feeling of sexiness to women and virility to men. How this idea came about is unknown, but as someone who enjoys their product I can state that it works quite well providing that both partners have drunk enough of the stuff and not fallen asleep or been arrested before they’ve found an accommodating bus shelter.

As an aside White Lightning cider works just as well and is less than half the price.

The second product that has gained the unlikely tag of ‘Lover’s munchies’ is M&Ms – but only the green ones. This appears to be an urban myth that started in America in the 1970s. Each different coloured candy was given a different property by bored university students that were too poor or cautious to buy drugs. Thus orange gave good luck, brown gave bad luck, red made you hyper and green made you horny.

Mars, the company that produces M&Ms has prudently stated on a regular basis that “It cannot explain any extraordinary ‘powers’ attributed to (green M&Ms), either scientifically or medically” which is pretty smart as it not only prevents them being sued but also keeps the myth going in the public domain, and just to help it along a bit they ran a marketing campaign in 2001 with the tag “What is it about the green ones” and in 2008 produced all-green packets of M&Ms for Valentines day. Still if you think it works, then it may well do so.

So forget about the asparagus in garlic, just help yourself to some M&Ms Babe. Oh look, there’s only green ones left.

Gary Moore

*Gary is the Editor of The Dorking Review, which is a book you can get from Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. A follow up to the book was planned but the artist went missing or something equally sinister. Apart from that, Gary is a man of mystery but in fairness he does stand his corner at the pub.