In the great American tradition of creating demand for things people never knew they wanted, welcome Peanut Lolita.
This country's newest liquer was introduced yesterday at New York's posh "21" Club with Billy Carter on hand at "the fee you've read about" to take the first sip. Lest the President's brother, whose devotion to peanuts is well known, not provide enough glamor for the 200 or more press and photographers expected to attend, "Ms. peanut Lolita" was to appear as well.
Neither nymphette nor peanut cultivator, she was "in fact, a belly dancer," according to a publicist for Publicker Industries of Philadelphis, the parent organization.
Publicer imports Inver House scotch, markets Old Hickory bourbon and La Conga rum. About half of its $200 million-a-year sales comes from industrial alcohol and, according to an expert in the field, the firm has not been notable for imagination or for aggressive merchandising.
What may have changed all that, to the delight of schools of business everywhere, was a "brainstorming session" between the time of Jimmy Carter's election and his inauguration.
"They wanted to add to the Lolita line," the company spokesman said, ("Amaretto Lolita" and "Caffe Lolita" already had been introduced without seriously disrupting competitors' sales.) "And they wanted something original, a first ever."
Whose voice first said "peanuts" has gone unrecorded. But work in the lab "moved along fairly rapidly' and after taste panel reaction, but without the benefit of market testing in the field, the decision was made to play on "topical interest" and release the product.
Despite a teaser on the label that this is an "original on the label that this is an "original continental formula," Peanut Lolita is as homespun as scrapple. "That is decorative," the spokesman said, adding that while liqueurs are not "mass-market products," Publicker anticipated first-year sales in "the six-figure category" (meaning 100,000 bottles or more).
The retail cost will be in the $6 range and the publicist was eager that consumers know the liqueur "seems to work very well with food" in cooking and that recipes making use of it would be forthcoming.
With the White House ban on serving hard liquor at official functions, it seems unlikely Peanut Lolita will be served there. On the other hand, a case is being delivered to Billy Carter's home in Georgia.
"He'll have it," the spokesman said, "and we anticipate when his brother comes by, he will offer him a sample."
Doubtless, any presidential reaction will be off the record.