Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to the Adverondacks

At milepost 105 north of exit fourteen on the New Jersey Turnpike there is a word on a billboard that caught our attention last week. Actually it isn’t even a word—more like a head-on collision of syllables—set in a familiar blue font, against a milk chocolate background. The billboard itself was practically buried in the visual chaos of overpasses, smokestacks, tank farms, power lines, and inbound commercial jets that identifies that region of the Garden State, but just conspicuous enough for a carload of homing Adirondackers.

The word on the billboard, “SNACKORONDACKS” (full context “Go Camping in the SNACKORONDACKS”) is a recent installment of an advertising campaign for Snickers candy bars. The gist of the campaign is to fuse/graft/smash together unrelated words or phrases into something suitable for a linguistic freak show. The result: grotesque, fascinating, and as thoroughly targeted as musk bait in a wire snare. Use of the name Adirondack for a national advertising campaign (a blog comment from someone in the Pacific Northwest suggested it would be easier for her to go camping in the “SNACKCADES”) seems somewhat haphazard until you consider that Candy Baron Forrest Mars, Jr., son of the man credited with introducing malt nougat to the candy bar, keeps a family place near Ticonderoga.

Like a glue trap, the word and the advertisement stuck with us as we drove north; we spent the next 150 miles trying to recall as many word mash-ups containing “Adirondack” or other associated names as we could.

The list, though not comprehensive, is mercifully short. It includes Vermondack, Adirondog, Catirondack, Adirondoc, Adirontrecks and Innerondack. Each of these returned at least one Internet search hit. Remembered coinages from former Adirondack Life editors include Barkitecture and Uppertupperlowertupperticonderschroonburgh. And perhaps the most non-biodegradable word yet coined by an Adirondacker: Frankenpine.

In the process of assembling our list, we unearthed a few new mash-ups of our own. Out of respect for the well-being of the language we will not include that full list here. Let it suffice that the list started at Plaidirondacker and Adirondork and went steadily downhill from there.

By the time we had exhausted our list we had reached Latham. At a Northway convenience store some mysterious force impelled us to buy a Snickers bar. Point: Forrest Mars, Jr.

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Mark Wilson's editorial cartoons - under the pen name MARQUIL - appear in newspapers and online across New York State. He also provides editorial illustrations and occasional commentary pieces for The Sunday Gazette of Schenectady and regularly chimes in here at the Almanack, particularly at election time and during the annual Adirondack Bracket. Mark lives in Saranac Lake.

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