Jakks Pacific is hoping to tempt young taste buds with a new spin on a product that’s been a billion-dollar hit with adults – a candy version of the popular dissolving breath freshening strips. It’s the toyco’s first attempt at candy, and the initial installment of Tongue Tape will come in Growlin’ Grape, Cherry Pit-stop, Lip Lemony Lemon, Blue Ratsberry, Howlin’ Hot and Ooh-Ooh Orange flavors, with a sour line currently in development.
Without even a finished product to show – just some samples in a plastic bag and a package mock-up – Jakks’ chief merchandising officer Michael Bianco secured orders from Kmart, Toys ‘R’ Us and KB Toys for more than five million units for the first quarter of 2003. Jakks hopes to eventually sell the product into every type of retail outfit it can, including grocery stores, discount chains and drug stores. Pfizer’s Listerine PocketPaks and Wm. Wrigley Jr.’s Eclipse Flash Strips, in cinnamon and peppermint flavors, racked up an estimated US$1 billion last year. Tongue Tape will retail for US$1.99 for a basic container of 24 strips and US$3.99 for 36 strips in a deluxe package that doubles as a necklace, key chain, ring or zipper pull. According to company spokesperson Genna Goldberg, Jakks has many more designs in mind for dispensers and is in discussions with several licensors.
It took a year and three different development companies to bring Tongue Tape to fruition because Jakks had to change the whole process of how the product was made – mint flavors are oil-based, and sweet ones are water-based. A new translucent, dissolvable strip had to be created, but the first attempts were all too bitter, too gummy or too flimsy. ‘We went through hundreds of different variations and flavors to make sure we had a product that wasn’t necessarily the quickest to go to market, but that really tasted good, so that we could have a long-term hit on our hands,’ says Goldberg.