Imagine that it is 2009. People (non-boomers) are inviting their friends to play Farmville via Facebook, Kanye is soon to hijack Taylor Swift’s big VMA moment, and Bieber Fever is in full swing, with just about every grade-school boy gripped by a deep-seated sexual jealousy (of Biebs), half-heatedly veiling their inadequacies with homophobic invective. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are what’s hot, and if you’re anything like me, your parents vehemently refuse to buy you a DS. Kids like us, we could only dream of what starter we would pick. I would have picked Turtwig.
After the summer reading raffle ended and your plan to Jedi mind trick your neighbor into giving you his old DS fell through, all hopes of attaining one were out the window. Well, they were until you saw one in the popcorn-sales prize catalogue through Cub Scouts. Sure, you needed to sell about 10 times more in popcorn than the DS was actually worth, but how many frat boys — let alone Cub Scouts — have sufficient capacity for abstract thought to make good monetary judgements?
You may or may not know this, but the Cub Scouts have their own version of Girl Scout cookies. For the non-suburbanites, they call it Boy Scout popcorn. It’s made by a company called Trail’s End, and they sell it in massive aluminum tins that are likely to be ignored after your first handful of Unbelievably Butter launches you into cardiac arrest.
The sales are supposed to be fundraisers for the troop, but when you’re nine, that thought doesn’t do much for you, so of course Trail’s End has to dangle hopelessly unattainable prizes in front of your impressionable little nose. The catalogues are in colorful print to maximally stimulate the reward circuitry of their henchman (you).
Nobody wants to buy $25 canisters of partially-hydrogenated Styrofoam — well, the stuff is not as likely to “fill” as it is to become your pantry as it sits idly by, year after year and decade after decade. When humanity inevitably Tik-Tok dances its way into a climate-change-and-disease induced endgame, my worst fear is that the only forageable sustenance on the post-apocalyptic plane will be tins upon tins of miraculously un-stale Chocolatey Caramel Crunch.
Many people look forward to the time of year when the Girl Scouts go door-to-door pedaling Thin Mints, but I don’t think anyone has ever said, “Gee, I wonder when those Boy Scouts are coming by with that popcorn.” Has Gordon Ramsay ever been invited to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” to sample Boy Scout popcorn? I have yet to see the clip.
Think of it like trick-or-treating in reverse, except everybody is wearing a navy-colored “field uniform” rather than costumes, and instead of the spirit of Halloween, the kids hobbling from McMansion-to-McMansion are fueled by the spirit of neoliberalism, like adorable little marines. Cheddar for cheddar. Like, look man, I don’t give a chocolatey-triple shit if you eat this: Nothing is getting in between me and Nintendogs.
Of course, nobody gets the top prizes. The disappointment when your parents tally your sales and it turns out you only sold enough ’corn for a reusable spork or a pack of wiffle balls — some things cannot be expressed in words.