Cuties and Clementines . . .
Well, dear readers . . . that person accidentally (and I don't blame them - truly - how did they know I was a crazy person) accidentally walked themselves right in to a Sean Rant. Buckle up, cover your ears, or just stop reading now because - like most of the things that set me off in irrational ways I have a LOT of inexplicable hatred for "Cuties."
It all boils down to this . . . seasonal creep. What do I mean? I mean the fact that you can find a Christmas end-cap in Target RIGHT NOW and you can buy Easter cards the day after Jesus was born and you can buy seasonalized candy (M&Ms, for instance) for every single holiday ever put on a calendar and I blame all this on one, small, otherwise fine and healthy fruit . . . the CUTIE!
Way back in 190X (I don't know exactly when - leave me alone) the average American was citrus deprived during the long, wintery months. Not scurvy type down but certainly not running over with the stuff. And the cost of traditional citrus (specifically transporting them) was not effective for getting oranges and grapefruits to the heartland (the Texas Grapefruit is a POSITIVE example of American ingenuity but it came along far, far later) so the discovery that a much smaller orange, the clementine (similar to but NOT the Mandarin Orange), with no seeds and a durable, waxy skin/shell was far more effective and durable for transport meant that every home could have some citrus in it all winter long.
Then it got weird. Some predecessor to Martha Stewart discovered something . . . these little bastards fit perfectly in socks. Specifically the socks hung so gently, and with care, by the hearth for the Christmas holiday. And BAM! By the next year the things we now call Cuties were called Christmas Oranges and they became staples (my daughter had Cuties in her stocking in 2013 and I loathe the whole thing so clearly it was effective branding/marketing to make even a hater, 100 years later, to engage in the activity) for every child who had parents that wanted a little something healthy amid the chaos of Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and candies.
And that would have been FINE but the stupid Clementine Lobby (very strong, very powerful, and very, very well dressed, and very secret) got ambitious and they decided the Cutie (as the coalition of growers, based in California) would become the ONLY fruit out there that is literally branded under a name versus as a type of fruit (don't bring that weak Grapple crap to me - that's not a household name). 600 breed of apples are grown in the US and you MAY know your favorite but you still call them APPLES (or the breed) - they are not known by branding. And that lobby got even more ambitious. Forget Christmas morning - these power hungry farmers and their lawyers and genius marketers - wanted EVERY day to be a Cuties day.
Fast forward to 2013. You can buy Cuties, in bags of three, at the cash register in a gas station. You can buy boxes of Cuties year round in your produce aisle. You can "like" Cuties on Facebook and "follow" them on Twitter. You can get t-shirts and hats and memorabilia. You can ship them directly to people through third party web sites. You can get fake Cuties that are made just for jugglers. You can put Cuties in potato guns and launch them to the moon. Cuties. They are everywhere.
You know who suffers? The other oranges. The dozens and dozens of other varietals that can't get a drop of love in the American heart even if they did fit in a stocking or were available for direct ship. No one has ever owned a navel orange t-shirt. No one has ever impulse grabbed a three pack of "Innies and Outties" by the register of their local convenience store (I'm talking navel oranges - not adult magazines or prophylactics . . . but someone SHOULD start a brand of marital aids called "Innies and Outties," right?). NO one has ever wondered why grapes are just called grapes but they've also never opted for "just" a grape when they could have a CUTIE.
Screw Cuties. Screw the branding and marketing of a fruit. Screw the holiday creep they inspired. Screw the whole thing. Rant over. Go eat a real piece of fruit - or don't!
(PS - I have NO idea if ANY of the above rant is historically or otherwise accurate and I truly don't care, I started hating the Cutie when I was in high school and first concocted this insane theory . . . and no one has ever proven me wrong.)