This Crazy World We Live In
No 2 Four floors of madness
I could have subtitled this post ‘people with too much money to spend’ except that that would be neither accurate nor fair. But you do have to wonder. I certainly did when I stumbled across M&M World last Sunday. Now this is not an emporium I had visited before, indeed I was not even aware of its existence. All I knew about M&Ms was that they are sugar coated chocolate or peanut sweets that resemble Smarties.
I was also familiar with their somewhat grotesque ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’ characters since they pop up every time I go to the movies. I’ve never been quite sure what they are advertising. I thought they were warning us to turn off our mobile phones but a quick Google tells me they are promoting film. Hence FTRC – From The Red Carpet. I’m all for anything that gets people into cinemas but please, why does everything have to be reduced to initials?
That was the extent of my knowledge of M&Ms. Until last Sunday when I was on my way to a cinema in Leicester Square. I was far too early. It was pouring with rain. I could have sheltered in a cafe but I didn’t really want a coffee and on principle I balk at buying the stuff at inflated tourist prices. Most of the shops were shut. And then I noticed that an enormous glass clad building near one corner of the square appeared to be open and doing a brisk trade.
Welcome to M&M World! How, I wondered, as I stepped inside, could you fill a shop with M&Ms? Let alone a whole building? I soon found out and should have guessed. Because of course it’s not just the little sweets they are selling. It’s merchandise. What stupefies me is not simply the four floors of stuff all branded with the M&M logo, but that people are actually buying it.
The toys and shopping bags, t-shirts and sweatshirts came as no great surprise. But boxers, baby-grows, bibs, wellies, pyjamas? Mugs for home or office and even mouse mats – if you really have to. But measuring cups, bowls, place mats, even salad servers? Dispensers are fun. I could even imagine why someone might buy one, though for my part I would never have enough M&Ms to fill one. It would be emptied so quickly there’d be no need for anything but hands. But I can’t see myself ever, ever wanting M&M earings. Or an M&M on a motorbike. Yikes!
Four floors of M&M branded merchandise! Call me naïve if you like, but I’m still reeling. (I will not use that horrible word that starts with gob and ends with smacked, though it does rather fit my reaction.) I’m surprised that I should be surprised, really. After all we have Disney and Warner Bros. merchandise. The Leicester Tigers and ManU all have shops. Everyone has shops. But they seem different somehow – based on much loved characters or sport or something. Not just candies, to use the American term, which is I suppose appropriate.
I have nothing against shops or merchandise. And I absolutely love sweets. My favourite bits of M&M were the floors lined with giant tubes filled with sweets in every colour imaginable, tastefully graded so that they changed from yellow to lime green to pea green to forest green to blues of every hue, then mauve, purple, red, orange, pink. I don’t know how I restrained myself. Maybe it was the anticipation of the popcorn that would inevitably accompany the film.
All around me people were filling little bags with the delectable colours and flavours. Which have gone way beyond chocolate and peanuts – there’s peanut butter, coconut, almond, ice cream cookie and much more. And that I could understand. What I don’t understand is how people can spend good money on this rubbish. Still I’m not the arbiter of taste and I’m sure some of the stuff I buy would raise a snigger or four. I must admit that the murals and framed ‘art’ around the place was so dreadful it was very nearly kitsch. But only very nearly.