We've seen this sort of thing before. In order to drive more consumption, to expand the brand, to capture new "eating occasions," and to hold onto linear feet of shelf space in grocery stores, cracker people introduce a whole range of flavors and variations. It's happened to the Triscuits. And the Wheat Thins. And the WHHeat Thins.
We've seen this other sort of thing before, too. In order to get peoples' attention, to break through their zombie walk down the aisle, to get them to change their expectations and their buying habits, snack people introduce all sorts of "limited edition" flavors. It's happened to chips. It has happened to Oreos. Oh, how it has happened to Oreos.
Now these two inter-related trends have collided in a most inexplicable and unfortunate place: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. Crackers for toddlers. Which now, for the moment, for a limited time, comes in Flavor Blasted Zingy Chili Lime flavor.
They are dusty and spicy, spicy enough to make a small child spit them out and cry in bewildered pain. [Ask me how I know!] What a mess, whose idea is this?
Goldfish are not nostalgia food. They are not sugared cereal, the kind of thing college students and hipsters consume out of kidult-ish retro irony. [Are they? Where is this data, where is this focus grouping? Where is the proud agency rep crowing, "When we interviewed people about
Wheat Thins Goldfish, they used words like 'I want to marry them,' and, 'If you take them away, I'll die."? I have not heard of this campaign. Maybe because it does not exist? Who is interviewing Pepperidge Farm brand managers? I Google these things and I only find myself, which is always a bad sign.]
But this is the point: Goldfish are for small children. These crazy spicy flavors of Goldfish are for the people who buy Goldfish [but who don't run preschools or daycares]. These Goldfish are for parents. They are meant to be a Treat For You™ while you're doing your job. Of buying crackers for your kid. They are like the in-jokes and celebrity cameos on Sesame Street, a reward for parents who take the time to watch the show with their kids.
In any case, they're so inappropriate for small children, I had to eat them all myself.
UPDATE: OR maybe they're for teenagers and Latinos. According to this transcript of a Summer 2013 analysts call from Campbell Soup [CPB], "Today's American teens are the Goldfish Generation. They were young children when we brought our mascot, Finn, to life and began investing to make Goldfish a powerhouse brand." Also, "We also know that Hispanic consumers broadly enjoy Goldfish crackers and we are working to strengthen that connection with flavors such as Queso Fiesta and Kick-it-Up-a-Nacho." Which, ay caramba.