Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Marketing of Mistletoe.

Nowadays, it’s common to go food shopping and see, for example, branded chicken…Perdue, Foster Farms. But there was a time when chicken was just plain old chicken. And Eggs were simply eggs, without red lettering boasting Eggland’s Best.

Will mistletoe be branded someday? Imagine going out to shop for that high quality sprig, available exclusively at Neiman Marcus because you’ve just got to have mistletoe by “King Pristine’s Romance Ranch”. And nope, the common stuff by “Joe & Sam” that Kmart is hawking isn’t going to provide the necessary element for that important kissing spot in your home.

So, what will we name the very first mistletoe brand? Since this plant originated in Europe, perhaps we’ll take that into account. While not native to America, there is a variety here, found from New Jersey to Florida and then to the west as far as Texas.

Mistletoe, besides serving as an item for locking lips under, apparently likes to “hug” too, and can actually harm the trees it grows on! Um, that makes it parasitic.
But wait! It gets even more romantic.

Mistletoe is poisonous. Don’t eat it; don’t let your kids eat it. The more minor symptom is a belly ache. No need to mention the rest.

And, it is toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Now it’s understandable why it’s traditionally hung up high.

So how did we come to start kissing under mistletoe in a doorway, anyway? Pick a story; Druids or Vikings or Greeks.

Britain, around 100 A.D. The Druids considered mistletoe to be a miracle drug of sorts and priests would ceremoniously cut mistletoe from trees either towards the end of the year or early in the new year for hanging in homes to keep evil spirits away. While cutting this sacred plant from the tree, care was taken so that the cuttings wouldn’t touch the ground.

Now the story takes a twist*.

Many sources say that the kissing tradition started in Scandinavia where mistletoe is considered to be the plant of peace. In Norse mythology, Frigga, the protective mother of Balder, cried tears that became mistletoe berries when her beloved son was killed by Loki from an arrow he made out of the wood from the plant.

Mistletoe was the only plant that could harm Balder, since Frigga had made sure that all other plants would not. Sadly, she didn’t approach mistletoe with her request. The arrow, once removed from Balder, was given to Freya, the goddess of love, and from these events the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe stemmed.

But what about the Greeks?  They associated mistletoe with fertility and originally included the plant in the festival of Saturnalia, and later with marriage rites.
More fuel for passion: Did you know that the name of this plant comes from the Anglo-Saxon words mistal and tan which translates to dung and twig? Gotta love that!

Ah, back to the naming of our new mistletoe brand. Let’s see, descriptors include kissing, parasitic tendencies, poison, dung, and twig. “Cupid’s Finest” or “Ding-a-ling-a-ding dung” won’t work. “Toxic Holiday Romance”. Nah; all of these are barking up the wrong tree. Okay, I’m stumped!  Sure glad I’m not representing mistletoe growers.

What would YOU name it?

Here’s a silly skit about mistletoe; click here.

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*Note: found another completely different story as well!


Shannon Grissom said...

I'll leave it nameless and simply enjoy the kiss :O)

Chief 187 said...

Great post! I'm with Shannon, the more kissing the better, no designer name necessary!

Anonymous said...

*giggle* mistletoe is deposited in trees from bird fertilizer (dung) and grows from there. a good way for a youngster to make some extra Christmas money is to cut the stuff out of the trees, break into little sprigs, add a little Christmas ribbon and sell to friends & family for $1 a sprig.

Gerry Wendel said...

That 3rd comment there truly defines marketing! Very enterprising. Wonder how hard it is to cut mistletoe out of trees?