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December 06, 1996 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-12-06

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14B The Michigan Daily Weekerfd Magazine - Thursday, December 5, 1996"
Two centuries of fresh breath add to Altoids' strong appeal

The Michigan Daily Weekend Ma
It's elementary: U-Prod's
'Sherlock Holmes' presents
a modern, fallible detective

Los Angetes Times
Historical hearsay has it that when
George III was told the Colonies were
lost, he kicked his spaniel, felt a fit of
fine madness coming on, yawned ...
and popped an Altoid.
Mariel Hemingway says when she's
ready for her close-up and lunch con-
tained more garlic than linguine ...

she'll chew an Altoid.
Comedian Joan Rivers is addicted to
these original, celebrated, curiously
strong peppermints. A distinctive red
and white tin of Altoids rested at the
right hand of prosecutor Christopher
Darden throughout the O.J. Simpson
trial. Rosie O'Donnell doesn't start a
monologue without one.

"Guests get Drake cakes with milk,"
explains a representative for the show.
"But Rosie chews Altoids."
And as chews Rosie, so munches the
United States as it elevates Altoids, this
200-year-old clearer of throats and
cleanser of moods and palates, into a
phenom of chic that in five years has
traveled faster than spilled latte.

Nobody quite knows why. Not the
British makers of Altoids, their New
York distributors, nor their Chicago
advertising executives. Word-of-mouth
has something to do with it. Cute bus
shelter boards, alternative newspaper
ads and wacko radio spots written by
John Cleese in classic Monty Python
mode have added to the exposure.
"But mostly it was a historical acci-
dent," theorizes Mark Sugden, who
manages Altoids marketing from the
Elmsford, N.Y., outpost of Callard &



Announcing the

Bowser of England
& Wales. "And it
took place in a
market where his-
torical accidents
work well."
That was
Seattle, birthplace
of Starbucks
Coffee, DaVinci
syrups, grunge
rock, microbrew-
eries and vertical
Altoids had been a
minor member of
this major mix for
almost four
decades, but as an
insignificant oddi-

Altoids Fac
~ Altoids are the n
ing peppermints.
V Three tablets co
and zero fat, choler
V Altoids have mac
Week's list of what
V Fan mail receive
Bowser establish t
breath mint of chi
choral societies, o,
low talkers, confes
and those with bad
of a dentist.
V For further inforr

"Altoids certainly are strong-tasting,
pioneering what is being called 'The
Power Mint,"' Sugden says. "Altoids do
the job of breath freshening that breath
fresheners are meant to do."
And so, five years ago, concurrent
with U.S. taste buds salivating nicely
for overspiced Thai, Indian, Cuban and
Cajun foods, Altoids began their pun-
gent peppermint surge. Sales have
grown 40 percent each year to a pro-
jected 1996 high of almost $20 million.
Altoids were first mixed from sugar,
gum arabic, oil of
-toids peppermint,
ation's best-sell gelatin and glucose
syrup at the turn of
ntain 10 calories the 19th century by
sterol, sodium or London confec-
tioner William
de Business Smith. He market-
's hot for the ed them for almost
100 years as "a
d by Callard & stomach calmative
hem as the to relieve intestinal
ce for actresses, discomfort." Anti-
pera singers, pi- gas tablets.
tsionals, dentists By the 1920s,
1 breath in need Altoids (from the
Greek "alt," to
mation, click on change, and
ScCom. "oids," taking the
form of) had raised
their medicinal purposes to snake oil
levels: "They act as an antidote to poi-
sons in the stomach. ... not a sweet-
meat, but medicinal lozenges ... two
taken after meals will stop any poiso-
nous fermentation ... curiously strong
peppermints, of special strength and
consequent value as a carminative." Or
more gas-busting.
By the 1930s, still free from any
British equivalent of the Food and Drug
Administration, they were touted as a
quasi-food supplement and diet pill.
The rest, as we know, is considerable.

By Evelyn Miska
Daily Arts Writer
The most well known and admired detective in
history will be coming to the Power Center this
weekend. Foe of Professor Moriarty and friend of
Dr. Watson, this famous detective is none other
than Sherlock Holmes. The play "Sherlock
Holmes" was written by. William Gillette, and
based on the Sherlock Holmes stories written by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Directed by John Neville-
Andrews, Gillette's play was selected because of
its appeal to audiences of all ages.
In a recent interview with The Michigan Daily,
Neville-Andrews said, "We
were looking for a play to do
that we felt would be appro-
priate for the students and Sherlo
also something that might bovery
be appropriate for this time ~ i
of year. Something that we has
could bring families to"
Sherlock Holmes is a
character that has delighted idiyncr
readers for generations, but also has I
don't be fooled - this
Sherlock is a little different - Joh
than the one you might Director, "
know. "This Sherlock and
Watson are very different
than those we've seen in the past." said Neville-
Andrews. When asked what made this production
so different from the original Shaw Festival ver-
sion. Neville-Andrews said, "Sherlock Holmes is


very humanistic, he has foibles and idiosyn-
crasies. He also has bad habits. I think in the past
he's been set up as a stereotypical person that was-
n't real."
Dr. Watson has undergone a few changes as
well. No longer the naive and roly-poly sidekick of
the past, Watson is a cynical and jaded man who
has seen it all.
Blackmail, entanglement and romance are all
part of this new version of a classic mystery. A
musical score is another addition to "Sherlock
Holmes." Composed by School of Music student
Stephen Eddins, the score helps add to the mystery
and suspense of the play.
Neville-Andrews said a
smooth production
process helped the com-
pany deal with the chal-
lenging style of
Ies and "Sherlock Holmes." "It
has a style we're not nec-
essarily familiar with
sies. Hnowadays," he said. In
ma habits." addition, the director
feels the plot of the origi-
Neville-Andrews nal play was also a weak-
herlock Holmes" ness. Originally written
by Conan Doyle in 1897
as a five-act play, it was
cut to four acts by William Gillette, who went on
to write several different versions of the play. The
version used in the upcoming production is a two
act rendition adapted by Christopher Newton.

Even if Neville-Andrews feels the original plot
is a weakness, this does not affect his enthusiasm
for this production. "I have some wonderful
designers, and I think the visual aspect of the show
will be quite spectacular," he said.
There is a chance that the-
ater-goers will be surprised,
though. This version of SheroCi
"Sherlock Holmes" is anything When Thursd
but antique, and those expect- Saturday 8 pm
ing an orthodox version may be Where: Powe
in for a surprise. Much of the V Tickets: $14
Victorian sentimentality of past student tickets
Sherlock Holmes' has been
stripped away, leaving a very
different rendition of Conan Doyle's famous char-
With fresh characters, surprises and possibly
even a little romance, "Sherlock Holmes" is any-


J. David Berry plays Sherlock Holmes in William Gilleti

ty, part of a package of Callard &
Bowser candies, mostly butterscotch
and toffee, foisted on a local distributor.
Although obscure and undiscovered
during those early years in America,
Sugden says, Altoids always represent-
ed a rich, basic honesty; the same tradi-
tional, back-home appeal found with
Seattle's Best Coffee and Red Hook ale.
All share a thoroughness of flavor that
in other corners of the world adds such
a perverse desirability to black French
tobacco, tangy Angus beef and
Tennessee sour mash whiskey.

I -

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