Combos: American Fondue

When I travel back to The States, I like to stock up on a few things:  Entertainment Weekly magazine, novelties for folks at work (things they can’t get…like handcream that sanitizes AND moisturizes–thank you Bath and Body works), and junk food that I miss.  Today’s entry fills two of those categories.  It’s the glorious, non-British, snack food known to us Yankees as:

123.  Combos

Combos have been around since the mid-seventies…just in time for my birth!  They come in several varieties…all involving cheese in its most delicious state (a gel/paste).  You also get to choose from three cheese-containing shells:  pretzel, cracker, and new tortilla variety.

It wasn’t until the airport that I decided that I NEEDED to bring some back with me on this latest trip.  I picked the biggest bag of pizzeria/pretzel variety that I could find.  I wish I had also bought a cracker variety.  But no time for shoulda/coulda/wouldas…they’ll have to wait until the next trip.  Unless someone wants to send me some (Mom).
A breathtaking variety

Combos are an exemplary snack for a number of reasons.

First of all, they’re actually not as fattening as you think they’d be.  I know that being overly concerned about what your cheese-filled snack is doing to you, calorically speaking, is a bit besides the point, but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

Secondly, Combos are uniquely American.  The Swiss might heat up their fancy cheese to  bubbling ecstasy.  Yes, they might have boulangerie-fresh crusty bread to dip into said bubbling cheese potion.  But, only Americans would stuff spreadable orange cheese into a tube-shaped snack on a conveyor belt.  We do this because we have no shame.  And thank God for that–because without this hubris-free audacity, the world would be deprived of this beautiful munchee.

Thirdly, Combos are a cheese-filled snack that appeal to even cheese-haters.  My sister is a such an ardent cheese-phobe that she pulls the mozzarella off of her pizza (tragic, I know).  But even she can eat the pizza flavored pretzel variety…though she does turn up her nose at the crackery nacho variety.  It’s too much.  Still, cheese-eaters united with non-cheese eaters makes for a happy household.

Finally, Combos are probably the snack that looks MOST like a dog treat.  Yes, the comparison has been made before, in pithier blogs–but, it’s an apt one.  Look here:  Snausages!

I know that something being compared to dog food should make me like it LESS but for whatever reason, it doesn’t.  I want the whole bag.  Also, I sort of want to eat a Snausage to see what it tastes like.

I’m not the only one in love with Combos.  Check out this article from the Associated Press that describes them rather adoringly.  Newsworthy!

Something I found rather curious about these cheese-filled little Lincoln Logs is the current marketing campaign…or maybe it’s always been this way.  Have Combos ALWAYS been so heavily marketed towards men?  I feel like everything I talk about lately on this blog winds up being scrutinized a bit from a feminist angle.  I don’t mean to be hung-up.  I’m just observant.  You know how us girls obsess needlessly over minutiae.

Let’s look at a recent commercial for Combos, shall we?  This part of a larger campaign called “Man Mom”.  The “Man Mom” ads are silly and fun but are definitely geared towards men…there’s no dispute about that:

In addition to that ad, if you swing over to their official website, you’ll also notice that it’s pretty masculine territory on-line too.

It labels Combo eaters as ‘combivores’, celebrates their racecar sponsorship, and postulates that ‘combivores’ would love an invention that would turn their toilet-paper into a sort of tickertape that updated the pooping ‘combivore’ with sports stats and scores as they did their toilet business.

So, OK, you want to target men as your demographic…specifically constipated Nascar fans.  But, I just don’t understand why?  Who is it that decides which food should be marketed to which gender?  Why do women get ick like yogurt and Sun Chips and men get beer and beef jerky?  Girls can be disgusting pigs too!  We’re not all of us always on diets.  Come on, Madison Avenue.  Stop gender-typing the crap that I eat.  As if I need my junk food to label me as even MORE of a tomboy than I already am.

Meanwhile, has anyone tried the new tortilla-shelled variety of Combos yet?  I’m eager to sample them.

5 responses to “Combos: American Fondue”

  1. I seem to remember there used to be a peanut butter pretzel flavour of Combos. You might bemoan the lack of cheese in that variety, but they sure were delicious!

    1. That reminds me of those nasty cheese crackers with peanut butter spread in the middle. Remember those? Were they made by Lance or something?

  2. Combos falls into the category of snacks you eat in a special way. Much like the oreo cookies.
    As vulgar this might sound, I like to suck the filling out of the center. Pull the mind out of the gutter, because I was referring to the combos.
    As far as companies marketing to demographics, they’ve always targeted gender, age and race.
    Yogurt commercials are always pale skinny women. Chocolate commercials are always women between 25-35, except for M&M with Patrick Warbuton. Hot pockets are always kids and dumpy looking men and malt Liquor was always Billy Dee Williams.
    I look at it like this, if they’re showing/targeting Nascar loving, constipated southern boys (I assume because of the NASCAR), my guess is, as much as you love combos, they love’em more and eat more of them. Didn’t you know they equation?
    Snack food not good for you = Commercial with Rolly Polly middle age men.

    If you want to change it, just eat more combos. Then they may change their marketing demographic. I would love to see a combos commercial with and American woman living abroad, advocating gay rights, and a great tasting snack of pretzel and cheese rolled up into one. I don’t think it would happen, but I think it would be a mind blowing commercial for the NASCAR crowd.

    1. I suppose that when creative teams are coming up with ways to sell products, it’s only natural to fall into one camp or the other. It’s easier to come up with ideas…brainstorming on either side of the equation for things to poke fun at or appeal to…There aren’t a lot of ads out there that consciously TRY to appeal to both genders are there? Fig Newtons, maybe? Anything that appeals to all just kind of comes off looking like it’s marketed to ‘the family’. I just want to know why chicks have to get all the boring-ass food.
      I WILL eat more Combos, thank you very much. And in public too!
      It is also my plan to convert the Brits to an addiction to American snackfoods. Your first bag of Combos is free…

  3. Ok, so I wrote a book.
    Sorry. 😦

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