If the phrase ”Mentos: the Freshmaker” means nothing to you, then you obviously haven’t been spending enough time in front of the TV. Set to an infectious, goofy jingle, the European-produced ads for the breath-freshening candies have mesmerized America’s youth. Devotees of the commercials — in which a sprightly teen pops a mint and cleverly conquers adversity, like extracting a parked car from a bumper-to-bumper spot — have designed a Mentos FAQ page on the World Wide Web, complete with the secret ingredients and existential musings on the candy’s role in society. The spot’s tune popped up in Clueless — ’nuff said. And at last week’s Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert paid homage to designer Isaac Mizrahi in what appeared to be a Mentos spoof (the duo were seen giving their characteristic thumbs-up in a dorky, Mentos-esque fashion).
But the freshest parody yet belongs to the rock band Foo Fighters, led by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. In their latest video, ”Big Me,” the Fighters riff on three classic Mentos moments. ”The commercials are total lobotomized happiness,” says video director Jesse Peretz, who came up with the concept. Although the manufacturer, Germany’s Van Melle Inc., would not comment on Mentos madness, the band hasn’t heard a word of protest, and that’s how it should be. Grohl maintains the video is nothing short of a tribute. ”Acting, shmackting. Those are genuine expressions I’m making when I pop one of those candies,” he says. ”I ate about 600 of them in a day, and I had an extreme feeling of beauty. Those Mentos really work!”