Peter York on Ads: Orange twisty puff snacks have never seemed so wacky

Nik Naks
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The Independent Online

Like so many of my chattering class friends I've got an A-level in nutritional hypochondria. We all have these special designer X-ray specs which show you exactly what's in whatever's on our plates. Where you see a nice microwavable convenience supper, I'm looking at refined flour, industrial fats, hydroponically grown low-cost vegetables and the rest.

Like so many of my chattering class friends I've got an A-level in nutritional hypochondria. We all have these special designer X-ray specs which show you exactly what's in whatever's on our plates. Where you see a nice microwavable convenience supper, I'm looking at refined flour, industrial fats, hydroponically grown low-cost vegetables and the rest.

And you can just imagine how we feel about "snacks" - those coloured flavoured polystyrene puffball things in a bag that young people eat. We know the fat's hydrogenated, we know that they've all got every E-number going, but we also know that some of them are cooked in ovens so hot that they develop acrylamides, things as bad as prions, or so they told us a few years back.

And they've got an epic amount of salt, more than your RDA (we all know our three-letter abbreviations). So the idea of even a kiddie-sized packet is a walk on the wild side, the equivalent of 15 Bacardi Breezers in a Nottingham theme pub.

Time was when the makers of these things - mainly consumed by six- to 20-year-olds, with a few older, careless eaters - tried to redeem them by saying they were nutritious or socially useful or eaten by clever people. All this to reassure mums who couldn't have stopped their kids' crisp fixes if they wanted to.

But come Tango and Pepperami ("a bit of an animal") and, above all, Pot Noodle, the effectiveness of a delinquent underclass appeal became conventional wisdom in the sector.

So there we are on a ferry with some faux-demotic young people - three boys and two girls. One of the boys is moaning that the first thing he's going to do when he gets back is to get some decent food.

So it's "Oyoy, bring it on" when someone pitches up with cola and something bagged called Nik Naks - orange twisty puffy sticks in a bag. But one of the boys starts retching, lies back on the table and a furious giant Nik Nak explodes out of his stomach in a shower of orange powder. It squeaks engagingly, then they pump up the volume on Chic's "Le Freak" and they're all well away.

"They're monstrous, they're deformed and available in four stupid flavours. Eat the freak." It's a masterpiece of copywriting and a glorious combination of chemicals, gash horror movies, underage rudery and inspired disco retro. Well done that man with the child in his eyes.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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