I'm a writer for Nightly News, so my focus is usually on subjects like Iraq, health news, and people who are making a difference. Today, though, I am writing about ChapStick.
I know ChapStick is supposed to be on my lips, but I have had it on my brain instead, ever since our Friday afternoon editorial meeting, when Brian, a fellow traveler in observing the rituals and vagaries of American consumer culture, reached into his pocket and pulled out a brand new tube and pointed out that, imprinted on the famous black label were the words "ChapStick Classic Original."
ChapStick Classic Original? We both laughed. Coke Classic is one thing – but ChapStick Classic? What other kinds of ChapStick were there, anyway?
Turns out, lots.
I guess I had been vaguely aware during my increasingly frequent trips to a local chain drugstore for packs of Dentyne Arctic Ice (the best gum flavor ever invented; uh oh, I feel another blog entry taking shape), but really, until I delved deeper into the ChapStick world over the holiday weekend, I had no idea.
Talk about brand extension!
A combination of my own eyewitness accounts, plus information from the ChapStick-dedicated Web site, has revealed what, since my childhood, has truly become the wide world of ChapStick.
There are four ChapStick Classics: Original, Cherry, Spearmint, and Strawberry.
There is ChapStick Moisturizer, also available in Vanilla Mint.
There is ChapStick Medicated with analgesics to soothe sore lips.
For kids, there's ChapStick Flava-Craze: Grape Craze, Blue Crazeberry, and Fruit Craze.
Need sun protection? ChapStick Ultra 30.
Lips drying out while you are sleeping? ChapStick OverNight.
Breast cancer research and treatment gets a boost from the ChapStick Pink Pack.
If green's your thing, there's ChapStick Natural.
And to "give your lips a kick," there's ChapStick Peppermint with its jazzy red-and-white cap.
If that's not enough ChapStick, the brand is also in a lip-lock with Disney: Apple Accelerator and Whizzin' Watermelon help market the movie "Cars." The ChapStick Disney Princess Pack features Ariel Blue Coral Berry and Belle Enchanted Cherry. And "just about every child will want the Nemo Pack featuring mouthwatering flavors, Nemo Coral Cherry and Nemo Wavy Grape."
Yes, ChapStick has come quite a distance since its invention in the early 1870s in Lynchburg, Virginia, by, according to Wikipedia, "physician and pharmacological tinkerer" Dr. Charles Browne Fleet.
And yes, I know Brian's lips get chapped at the mere mention of Wikipedia, but because Brian is a buff of all things Watergate, I invoke in self-defense the fact that Wiki's ChapStick entry includes a really cool photo of the microphones that were hidden in ChapStick tubes used by Watergate burglars Hunt and Liddy. Those tubes? ChapStick Classic Original—of course.