Have you heard of Apericubes? They’re individually wrapped processed cheese squares in assorted flavours, with – and this is what differentiates them from dairylea – a quiz question printed on the inside of each wrapper. They’re intended to be eaten as a snack with a drink before dinner, and having encountered them on a French holiday, they’ve become a must-have product whenever I go to France, a bit like having to buy Toblerone on ferries.
They even had a good advert:
Description: scene of Vikings getting off boat and swarming towards a village. Voiceover: “Previously, among neighbours, relationships were often…. tenuous.”
Vikings roar and wave axes, enter the long house via a wall. As they do so, a serving girl with a plate of apericubes turns to the leader and says “Allez, allez,” while putting an apericube into his mouth. The Vikings all turn happy, flute music plays. “Apericubes!” says one, “Goat cheese! My favourite!” says another. “Will you stay for dinner?” asks the serving girl. “If it wouldn’t put you out,” says the leader in an appeasing tone of voice, and they all share the apericubes. Voiceover: “Apericubes declare the aperitif open.”
But wait! What’s happened? The apericube that was meant to bring neighbours together seems to have found some rather unneighbourly divides… along gender lines. I know this because my dad came back from France this week and brought me a packet of pink sparkly apericubes labelled “Soiree Filles” (Girls’ Night In). A little internet research shows that they also make cheese for boys labelled “On Joue!” (Gamers) and “y’a Match!” (there’s a match on!)
In case you wondered, the next advert is…. less good.
Description: Vikings burst in as before, obviously hoping for some more apericubes. Serving girl: “Oh no, sorry, tonight is women only.” Viking 1: “Mmmm, summer veg.” Viking 2: “Can we stay anyway?” Serving girl: “On one condition…” The scene turns to the three Vikings on stage dancing to pop music and whirling their shirts about their heads, stripping to frantic female cheering. Voiceover: “Girls night in apericubes – it’s only the women who know how to apericube.” (I might have mistranslated that last bit.)
Inevitably, the flavours are split along traditional gender lines; the men get pizza, chorizo and grilled chicken, while the women get the delicate scallop, goat cheese and summer vegetables. Hilariously, given that this is CHEESE and therefore each square has roughly the same the same calorie value, the presumption is that women will prefer the diety foods while men will prefer high-fat and meaty options.
I haven’t opened my pink sparkly apericubes yet (and yes, of course I’m going to eat them) but I have a horrible feeling that the quiz questions are going to be gender specific.
The French feminists have been quite scathing about it. If you have the French for it, I loved this blog and this blog. I have to say I never thought that France would fall for this pinkified, Disnified, gendering of food: surely the only place for the masculine and feminine in this context is remembering that la chèvre is a goat while le chèvre is goat cheese.