Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Can Elmer's Glue Keep Calling Itself a Back-To-School Supply?

Nearly every August, when I'm hit with all the back-to-school ads, I see an enormous amount of Elmer's Glue placed front and center.

Can you believe this racket? What kind of a coup is this for Elmer's Glue? It's frickin' glue! You don't need glue in school! I mean what, for a crafts project? For sticking pipe cleaners on construction paper? Something you do in kindergarten and then never do again? For this you need four bottles of glue?

I remember we had white out in school. We may have even had a jar of rubber cement. But outside of shop class, where was the glue? My family owned, I think, a single container of glue, which more than amply met our glue needs for the entirety of my primary education.

Normally, I'd be pointing my finger at Elmer's, crying shame, and demanding that they stop pushing glue as a back-to-school necessity. But the thing is, I don't believe Elmer's is the real culprit here. Oh sure, they're riding this free publicity for all it's worth. But it seems like Office Depot type stores and stationers are pushing the glue all on their own. Like they perennially find themselves long on glue as autumn approaches and are forced to push their inventory like a waiter would push an overstocked Bordeaux.

And the parents are partially culpable as well, for buying into the glue scam. "I can't let Jayden be the only one without Glue!"

But then again, maybe the stationers advertise glue in their back-to-school sales to provide some kind of visual ballast in the ad. I mean, you've got erasers, rulers, mechanical pencils, notebooks. It's all so dry. So boring. It actually reminds you of, well, being in school. Not good. But the glue says fun. It says active. It says you're doing something.

So I checked out the Elmer's website, and yeah, they're milking this for all it's worth. If you don't have a tube of glue in your bag on the first day of school, then you're one sorry motherfucker. I mean, can you believe this site? Teacher's corner? Lesson plan tips? This is a company whose sole purpose is to manufacture polyvinly acetate polymer adhesive. But they want to tell me how to make sure children don't hog space at the water fountain. So yes, they're milking the whole back-to-school ambassador status.

Do you think maybe that in the ye-olden days of American school that glue really was a vital school supply? And that as glue has gradually been phased out as an academic tool, the back-to-school retail industry just hasn't caught up yet? That would probably be the most charitable way to look at it, so maybe I'll just leave it at that and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

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