Tying a product to a city is a tricky thing. Just saying the name of a city can evoke some strong emotions. Whether fueled by sports-related connotations, historic events, its most iconic citizens, or a travel experience, the range of emotions a city can embody is vast.
Let’s take a look at Chicago, my hometown, and how some brands seek to capitalize on it. Granted, Chicago hasn’t been much to look at since the polar vortex applied its vice grip, but for about eight months of the year, Chicago is an appropriate place for a human to live.
So appropriate, in fact, that Absolut made a vodka flavor inspired by it.
Here’s how Absolut describes Chicago flavor
Introduced in October 2013, Absolut Chicago is the latest limited-edition, city-inspired flavor to join the Absolut portfolio. Capturing the essence of the city's thriving culinary scene, Absolut Chicago features a savory blend of olive and rosemary and a bottle that showcases the iconic cityscape, stemmed from a collaboration with Chicago's own Threadless design community. Introducing Absolut Chicago - the vodka that captures the unique blend of the past with the cutting edge of right now that makes Chicago a modern classic.
That’s an interesting perception of the city, but Chicago already has an official spirit: Malort
. It’s so awful that it has its own facial expression that people make when they drink it. Google “Malort face,” or watch this video:
That is what I think of as a brand of liquor for a city. We live here despite its harshness. Malort suits us.
Bath and Body Works similarly tried to co-opt the city’s charm by describing its “Lake Shore Drive’ candle thusly:
"A windswept blend of fresh water, shoreline woods and a hint of mint."
Windswept? Sure. But I frequently walk my dog within whiffing distance of Lake Shore Drive, and perhaps my palate isn’t quite sophisticated to pick up the notes of shoreline woods and mint that isn’t from gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
It’s part of Bath and Body Works’ line of City & Travel candles
, some of which seem infinitely more desirable than Lake Shore Drive. But the company didn’t strike out completely with the Windy City.
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Garrett Popcorn, a Chicago favorite, sells a “Chicago Mix,”
which is a blend of caramel and cheese popcorn. It’s blissful—a perfect mix of sweet and salty. If Chicago has a flavor, it should be this. The Bath and Body Works “Sweet Home Chicago” candle smells like “Glazed popcorn, luscious cream and rich caramel.”