1. You'll Want Two Lumps With That Tea, We Suppose
Attention, women of the world:
, we must conclude, is in the breast enlargement business.
We're not kidding. We're deadly serious here. We've got good evidence for this.
But first, let's back up a little.
Last month, you may recall, we wrote about how we tried to verify
an odd report about Coke that ran in the
New York Post
According to the
(which, we never,
tire of telling people
runs on page 6 of the paper), Coke "has a new product, Coca-Cola Herbal, coming out in Japan, which is being marketed to women 16-22, with the pitch that the soda supposedly will make their breasts grow."
Preposterous, we thought. "Ridiculous," said a source. Coke never got back to us on the subject, and that's how we left it.
Until, that is, we received some reader mail on the subject.
The august beverage company Coca-Cola, you may assure yourself, does
sell a beverage in Japan called "Coca-Cola Herbal" that's supposed to make women's breasts grow. The
was wrong about that.
But not completely. Coke, in fact,
sell a beverage in Japan that's supposed to make women's breasts grow. It's a tea called
In some circles this is old news. Why, in June 2001, an
offshoot made mention of a TV commercial director's latest project: an ad for "a Japanese drink called Love Body that is supposed to make women thinner yet more buxom." Buried deep in an endless story about Coca-Cola that ran in the
New York Times Magazine
in March of this year, Love Body pops up again, described as "an herb-laden tea pitched to figure-conscious women (one ingredient is said to boost breast size)." TV commercials for Love Body, which launched in April of this year, "show the image of a supermodel who walks streets attracting boys with her brilliant proportion," writes a Japanese woman who requests anonymity.
New York Times
obviously missed the important story here, we launched a research project to discover what exactly this magic breast-building ingredient was. With the help of Graham Pappas and other correspondents, we learned that the breast-enhancing ingredient is an herb called fenugreek. You can find
numerous Web sites touting its abilities as such.
So this got us thinking. Could it be, we wondered, that Coca-Cola -- which
diligently battles rumors that Coke causes osteoporosis and hyperactivity -- is diligently spreading rumors of its own about the reputed effect of Love Body? Where, in fact, is everyone getting the idea that Love Body is supposed to enlarge your breasts? If it isn't Coca-Cola that's hinting this to a
New York Times
reporter and a TV commercial director and Japanese women, who is? (Oddly enough, the commercial director knew about the buxom angle on Love Body the year before its debut. And she described her clients at Coke as leaving nothing to chance. "They had to have everything incredibly mapped out," she recalled.)
A Coca-Cola spokesman disputes the theory that Coke is pushing the breast-enlargement angle. He says he has no idea where people are getting this idea about the effect of Love Body's fenugreek. Love Body, he says, "is not marketed at all in any fashion like that." Fenugreek happens to be used in many products in Japan, including ice cream, baked goods and chewing gum, he says. "It is a flavor, and you should not read anything more into it than that," he says. (Specifically, fenugreek has "a maple-like flavor and burnt sugar taste," says Coke.)
Coincidentally, we're sure, Japanese women have become a lot more interested in larger breasts over the past decade or so, says Dr. Sandra Buckley, a McGill University professor who edited the
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. And following the longstanding tradition of energy drinks marketed at men to "increase sexuality," says Buckley, there's been a recent explosion of female-targeted drinks corresponding to the new ideal of female Japanese beauty: "the well exercised, high energy body," as Buckley puts it.
Yes, no doubt Coke has absolutely nothing to do with driving this breast-enlargement story. But boy, are they hugging this particular curve.
2. Who Put the Dogg In?
Wall Street Journal
reader was lucky enough to see this one a week ago Thursday. But we were.
There we were, leafing through to page C3 of our edition, admiring a quarter-page ad from
. "You're divesting a huge equity position," reads the ad, featuring a gymnast executing a difficult maneuver on the still rings. You're looking for a firm with "the ability to execute complex transactions -- flawlessly," continues the ad. That company, apparently, is Bear Stearns.
Yeah, that's what we believed, too -- for about two seconds. Then we looked two columns to the left of that ad and read a fascinating story about an eentsy weentsy mistake someone made at Bear Stearns the day before. Apparently, someone at the firm was supposed to sell $4 million worth of stock on the
New York Stock Exchange
. Instead, an order went through to sell $4
of stock. They caught the problem at $622 million, overshooting that $4 million order by about $618 million.
All the News That's Fitting?
In most later copies of the paper, that story disappeared from the page with the Bear Stearns ad and was integrated into a markets story on another page. The spot previously occupied by Bear Stearns was replaced by a story about the rapper Snoop Dogg and a Muppet movie.
Snoop Dogg and the Bear
A Bear Stearns spokesman had no comment. A spokeswoman for
said that the paper's production staff tries not to place a company's advertisements next to news stories about that company, whether the stories are positive or negative. "We can't always guarantee that," she says.
3. Money Down the Hole in One
Go Fore Broke
We know what you tech stock investors are thinking. You've been burned by the market. You're nursing your wounds. You're looking for something safe to put your money into. Something brick-and-mortar.
Well, have we got a deal for you. How about a chain of second-hand golfing equipment?
No, we're not kidding. On Wednesday, second-hand golfing gear retailer 2nd Swing filed for an initial public offering.
Yup, just the place you'd like to park your money in these uncertain times.
2nd Swing is losing money, of course. On the bright side, same-store sales were up 20% in 2001. Unfortunately, the same-store sales increase dropped to 9% in the first half of 2002. And though interest in golf has generally grown over the past 20 years, says 2nd Swing, the number of rounds played during the first eight months of 2002 fell 2.1% from the same period of 2001.
Oh, did we mention that 2nd Swing will be traded on the Amex? Chug!
4. Go Doughnuts
You know, we're big fans of
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
, but this is nuts.
The Hartford Courant
reports that this week,
a man camped out for two nights outside a Connecticut Krispy Kreme shop in order to be the first in line for the store's grand opening.
OK, OK, maybe it wasn't so Dumb. For being first in line, the man won free doughnuts for a year.
But that doesn't explain the other people in line, like the guy who camped out in front of the store one night ... in order to buy one doughnut.
Ever wonder what happened to all those people who used to camp out in front of Grateful Dead concerts? Now you know.
5. Nortel More Tell
On the bright side, the ailing telco equipment supplier
has a plan to rescue its stock price, which closed at 44 cents on Thursday.
If the company can last until next spring, it plans to execute a reverse stock split -- one that would get its shares trading somewhere between $10 and $20 apiece.
At current prices, that implies a reverse split with a ratio somewhere between 1:22 and 1:45.
Now to the dark side. Once that reverse split goes through, points out one Nortel employee, he'll own options with a strike price, oh, somewhere around $2,500.
That's building wealth the old-fashioned way: Never.
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