Colorado's cantaloupes got a very bad rap last year after an outbreak of listeria traced to melons from Jensen Farms in Holly was linked to close to thirty deaths. But not all of the state's cantaloupes are to blame — a point that Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar hopes to make with a project designed to rebrand the vilified fruits this summer.
One way to do that will likely be to continue the work of state Department of Agriculture program director Tracy Vanderpool, who was lauded at the Governor's Mansion earlier this year for educating "hundreds of Colorado's fruit and vegetable growers on the importance of developing and implementing food safety plans." His efforts, the department says, "have and will continue to be integral to restoring consumer confidence in Rocky Ford cantaloupe."
But before some corporate image-crafter is paid a hefty chunk of change by this cash-strapped state to come up with a rebranding plan, we have a few suggestions — and they're all free!
Change the fruit's name. The cantaloupe has several alter egos, including the mushmelon, the rockmelon and the muskmelon. All of those names are pretty gross (mushmelon? Seriously?), but at least they're not cantaloupe.
Use subliminal marketing. Cut a deal with grocers to repeatedly play Us3's 1993 jazz-rap hit "Cantaloop" in the produce section. If that doesn't inspire people to buy cantaloupes, it'll at least inspire them to "get funky."
Make cantaloupes funny again. Were cantaloupes ever funny? Doesn't matter — this plan will still work. Infiltrate the ranks of Laffy Taffy joke writers, get them drunk, and convince them it'd be, like, so awesome to make every joke on the wrappers "Why didn't the melons get married? Because they cantaloupe!"
Make "cantaloupe" easier to spell. How about just "cantelope"? After all, nobody likes things they can't spell. See: Connecticut, Wednesday and hors d'oeuvres. Okay, maybe not hors d'oeuvres. They're delicious.
Make cantaloupe cool. Time for the Denver Broncos to do their bit. Rather than bill their primary color as orange, why not call it cantaloupe? Think how much mileage Colorado could get from the Cantaloupe Crush.
The naked truth: There were definitely signs. When Westword was working on "Mr. Right?," our cover story on Ali Hasan, the son of a political powerhouse couple who was recruited by the Republican Party to run for the House District 56 seat in 2008, the 27-year-old candidate took a break from the interview for a quickie with a campaign staffer. But then, it fit with Hasan's larger-than-life style, which included a stint making movies in California and doing political commentary as a Muslim young Republican even before he moved back to his parents' $10 million home in Beaver Creek and ran for office.
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So when Hasan posted a 3,500-word description on his personal blog of his recent three-month treatment for sex addiction, it wasn't nearly as shocking as the fact that he'd come forward so publicly.
"For those who know me well, you are more than welcome to laugh hysterically with what I am about to say – As of last week, I completed a 3-month, sex addiction, rehab program. (insert hysterical laughs here)," is how Hasan, who became a Democrat after a crisis of conscious last year and has also moved back to California to restart his movie-making career, began the confessional. "Okay...now that the jokes are over...sex addiction is no joke. Yes, I'm more than willing to write comedically about it, but sex addiction is a problem that, if not confronted, will destroy your life."
Hasan lays out how his girlfriend discovered his addiction in January and told him to get help. When he wouldn't, she broke up with him. Hasan later had "a health scare" that led him to seek treatment.
"I've always been an adrenaline junkie, especially as an expert snowboarder. But these positions I was putting myself in, not just medically, but also geographically and personally, were truly precarious. When I could finally look back at 'where I had been' with a clearer mindset, I became repulsed. I didn't want to go back," he writes.