My Lone Black Friday Purchase

Friday, November 24th, 2017

When I wrote about the Pringles “Thanksgiving Dinner” on Wednesday, I considered tying in the following image, which I had recently seen:

This image appeared in a tweet, and while it was the source of much amusement, its provenance was entirely unclear. I assumed that this was an earnest Pringles knock-off, perhaps found in some South American country where intellectual property could be infringed upon with impunity.

In fact, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole trying to figure out just what was up. After chuckling about the Prongles slogan (“Once You Pop…THAT’S GREAT!”), I spent a few minutes trying to nail down if Pringles actual slogan had been “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop” or “Once you pop, you can’t stop” (Answer: Both, apparently). That search led me to a set of truly ’80s-tastic commercials which included a young Brad Pitt. This ad in particular really cracked me up, due to the nonsensical way one of the guys is literally pouring chips on his own face: 1

The spot gets even better, as a few seconds later another tank-top wearing bro is spotted double-fisting two cans of Pringles all over his own grill:

What a mess these dopes are making! How many takes of this do you think they did? I’d like to imagine it was dozens. These ads were certainly good for some laughs, but further Googling revealed nothing more about Prongles. I eventually set the whole thing aside as an amusing but unexplained curiosity.

This morning, however, branding analysis site Brand New featured an article about Prongles. I was a bit disappointed to learn that this was not an earnest knock-off. Instead, it was a prank by the folks behind party game Cards Against Humanity (CAH). In previous years, CAH has had outlandish Black Friday “promotions” including 2014’s literal boxes of bullshit, as well as 2015’s nothing, where customers paid $5 and receive absolutely nothing in return. Prongles are a bit of a departure from that style, but they’re pretty damned comical nonetheless.

Because I was driving by a Target in New Hampshire, I figured I’d stop in to see if I could find a real-life can of Prongles. When I arrived just before noon, Target’s door was in normal working order, so I can only assume it had been repaired since the store’s early AM opening. I wasn’t sure if I’d find any Prongles, nor where in the store they would be, but it seemed worth a few minutes of my time. Wandering through the grocery aisles, I spotted a single canister mixed in with real Pringles.

My first thought was that someone had intentionally placed a lone canister here in the hopes that an oblivious snacker would be fooled by them. Another possibility is that someone spotted the Prongles first elsewhere in the store, then said “Oh, this is what I wanted!” when they found the real Pringles. Either way, finding this mixed in was just perfect.

I quickly snapped a few photos, including a good comparison shot, then snatched the can up. I couldn’t find a full display anywhere in the food section, so I headed to the toy area. I found the Cards Against Humanity games section, but no Prongles display. Eventually, I asked a Target worker, and boy did I get lucky. When I showed him the can, he said “Ah, I stocked those yesterday! They’re on the end cap of aisle E1”. I walked over to find an empty shelf, where the tag said something like “CAH Game”. It seemed I had found the very last canister in the store. I purchased it for $3, and headed on my way.

Over lunch, I contemplated if I should open the can, or if that would ruin its value as an idiotic collector’s item. A web search revealed that the canister really did contain nothing but potato chips. In fact, it appears that CAH actually just re-branded chips from a company called “Good Crisp”.


[Photo source: Reddit user DaveLambert on Imgur]

There are a ton of interesting legal questions here. Will Pringles sue for trademark infringement? Does Good Crisp have a case against CAH for simply re-branding their product? Were either of those companies actually involved in the gag? I’ll be fascinated to see how it plays out.

Ultimately, this promotion is bizarre, and its exact purpose is unclear. The Prongles website actually claims Cards Against Humanity is getting out of the games business, but I’m certainly more than a little skeptical. The scheme has undoubtedly generated plenty of publicity for the company, and I suspect that will serve to sell many more copies of their game. If it does, I can only say good for them, and thank them for keeping reality weird. As for me, I’m delighted with the only thing I purchased on Black Friday.

Previously in off-beat retail: CVS’s Handmade Flu Shot Signs


Footnotes:

  1. As always, the video is archived here. ↩︎


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