Friday, October 13, 2006


Dear Frito Lay Company,

I am writing to you today to address some concerns I have with your marketing techniques, and with a possible violation of my personal privacy.

How did you know? Are you watching me? Do I consume so many of your products that you are now tailoring your product releases to me personally?

I am a lifelong connosieur of potato chips, and you obviously know I love barbequed potato chips the most of all. Back in 2001, when I was pregnant with my first son, you came out with an Old Fashioned BBQ flavour - and it was good. Very, very good. I actually called my brother, my childhood companion in the consumption of endless bowls of barbequed chips to share the news, and he went out that very day and got some for himself. After the dry years in the early 1990s when you tried to pass off the hip new 'mesquite' movement in lieu of real barbeque flavour, the Old Fashioned BBQ were a godsend. And I'm sure I gained an extra 10 lbs during that pregnancy, simply by virtue of those heavenly chips.

Strangely, though, they disappeared shortly after my son was born. In fact, the last bag I had was the treat my husband brought to me in the hospital after my son's delivery, come to think of it. In place of the Old Fashioned BBQ chips, you came out with a modified barbeque flavour, and the barbeque pendulum came to rest somewhere between the mesquite flavour of the 1990s and the beloved BBQ spice of my youth. While I still enjoyed an occasional Ruffled Barbeque chip, the traces of mesquite flavouring assured that I enjoyed the idea of the barbequed chips more than I enjoyed the actual chips.

And then, when I was pregnant with my second son, for a few glorious months I could find the Old Fashioned BBQ chips again. I bought extra bags when I stumbled across them, hoarding them in the pantry and in my desk drawer, rationing and savouring each chip. And again, without warning, they disappeared, leaving me to smack my salty lips and chew leftover barbeque spice out from under my fingernails with longing.

Imagine my delight, then, to recently discover a cardboard display of - yes, miraculously - single-serving bags of Old Fashioned BBQ chips in Shoppers Drug Mart last month. I approached the display like an oasis in the desert, expecting them to waver and melt away upon my approach, leaving me to weep in the snack food and personal toiletries aisle. But, to my delight, they were real, and they were very, very good.

In fact, they are so good that I find myself thinking about them constantly. I plan my day around detours that might take me to the vicinity of one of the two locations in the entire city of Ottawa where I have found a cache of them. I think of them at night. I make deals with myself, that I will eat nothing but salad and fruit and the occasional rice cake for an entire day, if I allow myself the salty satisfaction of a bag of BBQ delight for my afternoon snack.

I would like to know how exactly you know I am pregnant again. Do you have market analysts who monitor these types of trends? Do I contribute that meaningfully to your corporate profits?

In researching your company for this letter, I have become even more deeply suspicious. I looked on your corporate website and was perplexed to find that it makes no mention of Old Fashioned BBQ flavour, nor is the flavour mentioned on your parent company's website. They don't really exist!

I demand a response to this issue. Is there a conspiracy of BBQ chip production going on? Are you in some sort of marketing alliance with the makers of extra-large maternity clothing?

And could you send me some coupons or free samples? You know, for the baby.

Yours in savoury addiction,