Consider Twinkies & Mayo

    Twinkies aren't just a pleasure for the palate; they're a lesson in invention motivated by recessional times.

   As the story goes, the father of Twinkies conceived the idea when he was looking for a way to utilize machines made for strawberry-flavored cakes in the off-season. The Twinkie was born to utilize that down time and prevailed in the post-Black Tuesday years at about 2.5 cents each.

   Another food staple born out of broke times is Kraft's Miracle Whip. The story goes the company's mayo was slipping in Great Depression years, so to boost sales the recipe was retooled and redubbed Miracle Whip, which sold at a lesser price than the original. The reinvention was considered an instant success at the '33 World's Fair.

   Those are the first two things that popped in my head after reading "Less-lethal for less" on Page 44 and Rebecca Kanable's "A lesson in modern policing" on Page 16: Twinkies and mayo.

   In a more sophisticated way, Robin Engel of the University of Cincinnati Police Institute told Kanable that policing is looking for its jazzed up version of the Twinkie: "Traditional law enforcement meant flooding an area with cops and making lots of arrests. That's not an option for them anymore. They need to think out of the box." The less-lethal story describes an agency that found it could pad the cost of upgrading its tools and help its law enforcement neighbors by selling its used equipment, benefiting buyers at a three-to-one ratio. While second-hand sales are not entirely radical today, for the agency looking at the numbers, it was thinking out of the trade-in or trash-it box.

   Though instances of a recession inspiring invention are unique, they are not inimitable. Today manufacturers and law enforcement managers need to consider the Twinkie. What was once a manufacturing solution is today a cream-filled symbol of American culture. Law enforcement's edibles do business on a different plane, but with the same motivation; what problems could be solved on this greater level?

   P.S. Keep your eyes peeled next month for something we've been psyched to share with you finally coming to fruition; don't worry, once you open your September issue, you won't miss it.