Dear Trebor Bassett

Jelly Babies have been redesigned in politically correct `yoof' guises, wearing baseball caps, trainers and bumbags. It's all a bit much to swallow
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The Independent Online
Some things should never change, Jelly Babies included. Of course, I appreciate that you have the latest research from the marketing department and that they've clipboarded and doorstepped the entire drooling and eyeball-rolling confectionery market and come back with results to rock you on the back of your Allsorts.

Yes, I understand that a significant number of vacant-eyed respondents said that Jelly Babies need to be more "relevant", the better to reflect changing popular values. No one but a mug would ignore the signals being sent up by the street. When you exist on a diet of psychotropic lager and DNA-pulping jungle beat, then raspberry-flavoured chewy sweets in phallocentric, paternalistic forms seem all wrong. I understand that. Besides - in this more sophisticated age - whoever thought that sweets were meant to be enjoyed? Come on, get real.

Yes, I know Jelly Babies grew out of that distant and deeply incorrect nationalist euphoria that followed victory in the First World War. These first gelatinous Peace Babies (b. 1918) were among the first dividends of our vanquishing Kaiser Bill's conquering hordes. Forget the benefits of the Treaty of Versailles, we got rubbery sweets and now enjoy about 3 billion of them a week. Yes, I acknowledge Jelly Babies as retardataire, as symbols of an oppressive, class-based, aggrandising, militaristic, imperialistic triumphalist value system.

But, on the other hand, just wait a minute. I thought Jelly Babies were classics of modern design. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that I thought they were preciously minimalist or middle-class status trophies. I simply thought they were characteristically 20th-century products that needed no improvement, that were complete in themselves. The best designs are those things to which and from which nothing can be added or taken without diminishing the value of the whole. So, to give you an absurd comparison, you have Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chair - and you have a strawberry- flavoured Jelly Baby, moulded in a form of optimistic infant innocence. In a world of volatile and fugitive values, such certainties offered comfort.

So now what happens? Some graduate-trainee dork from the marketing department commissions and then ingests a lot of dimbulb research. Just when baseball caps and trainers have gone the way of the cellular telephone as signifiers of misguided low-life aspirations, Jelly Babies follow the same path towards a wrong-headed fashion-conscious "relevance".

Honestly, I want my Jelly Babies simple and uncontaminated by the momentary whims and conceits of high-street credibility. If I want a Jelly Baby on a snowboard or in a Detroit Diesel trucker's cap, I'll make my own arrangements, thanks all the same. Goodness only knows, it's a difficult world here on the cutting edge of popular taste. It's hard enough coming to terms with my own values as they scarper into the oblivion of nostalgia. I don't mind trying to change myself, but I'd rather Jelly Babies stayed the same.

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