Cars and Mallomars. So rarely do these two come together in my world (and I really don’t advise eating the sticky treats inside a car, especially on a warm day)…but today is an exception. We say goodbye to Eiji Toyoda, the father of Toyota, who lived to a ripe old age of 100. We also say hello to the 100th anniversary celebration of Mallomars, the chocolate-marshmallow-graham cookie. What do Toyota and Mallomars have in common? These are brands with staying power.
Toyota. As a kid, I remember hearing about them early on – our family was an early Toyota adopter. In fact, our first Toyota (a 1977 Corolla Hatchback) became my first car when I began driving 7 years later. This car, which had stickers proclaiming bragging rights like “I climbed Mt. Washington” may not have been the sexiest vehicle (especially in brown), but with 160,000+ miles on it when it was handed over to me, it was a running vehicle. I appreciated that. It was also a safe vehicle, protecting me perfectly when I had an unfortunate accident. And unbelievably, that car came back from the shop and kept on going, piloting me right up to college. Never a breakdown, never a worry, and never a feeling that people were into me for my car. Oh what a feeling, indeed:
That was just the beginning. Toyota grew their brand, step by step, starting with affordable reliability, moving into sexy (we had a Celica, a Celica Supra, a Supra) and then doing what tends to be impossible in brand world: moving up market. Sure, a premium brand can start a lower line, but going the other way is impressive. We had a Lexus as early as 1989 – one of the first – because we bought in. The brand had proved itself as it expanded its sphere of credibility steadily, proving that it deserved our trust each step of the way. Once Toyota dominated the “we treat you better than anyone” market of luxury service (and darn good products), they decided to reach out to a different audience. But did they just make smaller, cheaper Toyotas? No. Scion was born as a brand in its own right. Yes, it had pedigree…lots of Toyota and Lexus might behind it…but a Scion is a Scion.
Even though it has been quite a while since I’ve owned anything from the Toyota family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Toyoda for his vision. His brand is firmly rooted in the warmest places of my heart. RIP, sir. I only wish I had a photo of my actual car.
Mallomars also remind me of childhood, even though I don’t really remember them being part of our household. As a kid, I did see friends eating them, tried them a couple times at friends’ homes, and saw them referenced in pop culture. So even though they weren’t part of my day-to-day life, the brand was strong enough to have recognition. Today, when iconic snacks are facing competition from an incredible amount of new products as well as the highly vocal set of parents who feel they must buy organic at all times, it’s pretty amazing that Mallomars continues to have a place. What’s this cookie got that others don’t? The brand realizes the uniqueness of its product, both in terms of what it is and its memorability, and they play up that point of differentiation beautifully in a new Facebook campaign where fans are being asked to share their “Mallo-Memories.” Ding ding ding, they’ve hit it on the head. The brand also shares their own memories with their fans via social media, sparking a sense of nostalgia and connection to generations.
So congratulations, Mallomars. 100 years of stickiness describes not only your cookie but your brand.