Over the past month or so, the entire nation of Romania got punked by a candy bar. Yes it’s true.
The candy bar is a domestically made product, a little thing called ROM and usually sold for about 1 leu, so cheap and affordable.
It was also one of the few candies made in Communist times (since 1964) and it still continues today so a lot of Romanians eat it because they’ve always eaten it.
Romanians also think it’s very cute and funny that “ROM” is both a short form of saying “Romania(n)” and it’s also the word for “rum”. And the filling does indeed contain a rum-like flavor.
After 1989 and the coming of “democracy”, the people selling and marketing ROM candy bars made a few humorous commercials (TV adverts), making reference to their Communist-era origin. In them, a person would be eating a ROM candy bar and suddenly be “transported” to meeting some Communist officials, who would yell at them for being decadent.
Then about a month or so ago, they started heavily promoting a new label on the damn candy bar, swapping the (current) Romanian flag design for one with the American flag.
Since the commercial is in English, you can see it here:
Notice the hook of now you can eat this candy bar and be proud because it no longer has a Romanian flag.
Note: If you read my last post on “17+ ways to say Romanian” you’ll now understand why the slogan at the end is Romanesti.
But then just recently they revealed the big hopa! surprise, which is that they never were going to actually replace the wrapper and it was all just a stunt.
Holy moley guacamole this ad campaign created a gigantic reaction! Before the stunt was revealed at the end, a lot of Romanians got angry. When they saw the punchline, some laughed and thought it was funny. Others however stayed quite angry.
You can read a lot of comments (in Romanian) to this campaign here, including talking about how they felt “betrayed”. I won’t name names but I too know some Romanians who were (at least) initially shocked and outraged by a candy bar switching its wrapper.
When I heard about the campaign initially, I shrugged it off. Why not? Dear Romanians reading this blog, please look around you and count the number of American flags everywhere.
Are those flags signifying a government institution or some “authentically” American foods? Hahaha get real. Everything from baby socks to fast-food napkins can have the American flag on it and it doesn’t mean anything. It means absolutely nothing whatsoever.
Oh well, at least it made me laugh and it does seem to be opening a dialog about is it okay to like Romania (or more specifically, everyone else but you and your family) so that’s a very good thing indeed.
Plus it’s kind of nice to not hear one goddamn person say, “My grandfather fought for that flag” (on a chocolate bar) :D
AND NOW YOU KNOW!