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This is a short one, just to remind people how brands are never perceived on their own, but in comparison to other impressions.

When I was a kid, I LOVED Hershey’s chocolate.  Especially Hershey’s Chocolate with Almonds. I couldn’t imagine any chocolate being more delicious. Having grown up in Ottawa, a couple of childhood visits to the nearby Smiths Falls Hershey’s Factory solidified my emotional attachment to the brand.

Then I moved to the UK for 12 years, where proximity to Switzerland, Belgium and Italy ensure its supermarkets have a huge variety of reasonably priced chocolate products. My wife and I developed a bad habit of devouring one bar of Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate a day.  After Cadbury’s bought Green & Black’s and they raised their prices, we switched to the Divine and Montezuma brands.

When we stopped over in Houston on the way to Costa Rica, I hadn’t eaten a lot on the mostly food-less Continental Airlines leg from Vancouver.  I was looking forward to a Hershey’s with Almonds. It tasted… TERRIBLE.

I checked the freshness date, it was not even close to expiry.  I bought a Hershey’s Special Dark to be sure. It also tasted bad.

There were three possible reasons for my change of heart about the brand:

  1. Hershey’s changed the recipe to cut costs (apparently not)
  2. I grew up and my taste buds and preferences changed (maybe)
  3. I got used to European chocolate brands using African cocoa (probably)

The question is: if I had remained in North America, within easy reach of my previously favourite chocolate brand, would I have fallen out of love as quickly?

Probably not. While the reverse may be true, a box of chocolates is not like love (apologies to Forest Gump). Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

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