Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Altoids My archeological dig for treasure was going very slowly - three days and still I have found nothing worth mentioning. I was about to call off the search when suddenly my shovel struck some kind of metal object in the soil. I carefully dug around the article, careful not to damage it. Proceeding to unearth this mysterious item, I was soon able to hold this small oblong of metal in my hand. Upon returning to my lab I realized that I had made quite a discovery, for this object was obviously from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Characters that looked to be from the early twentieth or twenty-first century ran along the top: The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Peppermints. Altoids.

While analyzing this strange artifact, I encountered its many fascinating properties. The relic appeared to be hollow; upon further exploration I discovered that this object was some sort of receptacle - likely used for the storage of some form of confectionery which was popular in those times or some other such product.

Opening the lid, I could barely control my excitement about the discovery I was about to make. Empty. Feeling somewhat disappointed, I remembered that this container could still tell me many things. I decided that I needed to do a little research on these things called "Altoids." A visit to the historic Bancroft Library at the campus of University of California Berkeley yielded that Altoids were a kind of primitive treat developed by the ancient civilization of Great Britain, and consumed by persons all over many parts of the world. Altoids were apparently a type of confection called a "mint"; after researching extensively, I learned that in the early twenty-first century, the mint industry was rapidly growing, and that there was a multitude of mint brands available.

While studying the container more extensively, I discovered that there was writing on the back as well as the front of the container Nutritional Facts, Ingredients, a website, and production information were all given. Why would people want to know all of this if it was simply a confectionery treat? After pondering this point I came to believe that the nutritional information helped patients of diabetes (there was no cure in the twenty first century) gauge their sugar levels and the rest was simply for self-promotion and to prevent legal issues (copyright and trademark infringements). The front of the Altoids container was lined with red trim along its edges in what appeared to be some sort of aesthetically pleasing design. It had a picture of the 'Mentha Piperita' plant, where I discovered that peppermint oil (an ingredient in Altoids) was derived from. The overall look gave me the feeling of warm feelings that felt unusual coming from an inanimate object. The fact that an inanimate object could create pleasant feelings puzzled me, but as I searched for answers an idea suddenly came to me.

The attractive design was most likely used to influence consumers to purchase this product. I postulated that the more eye-catching design a product had, the more successful it would be with the consumers (probably by evoking the pleasant feelings I had just experienced). Many companies realized this and hired specialists who worked with the sole purpose of producing these colorful and striking designs for products. Why, I wondered, did these specialists decide on these particular adjectives to describe their product? "Original" and "Curiously Strong" seemed above all the most important descriptive words. It is my postulate that these specialists chose "Original" to convey that their product was superior because it was the oldest mint-maker and therefore had the most experience. "Curiously Strong" was probably decided on to evoke feelings of curiosity and tried to appeal to man's natural inquisitive nature.

Records from the twenty-first century dwindle after the first few years. Speculation follows that the shallow, rather self-centered consumerism-driven society doomed itself to extinction. These people lived a fascinating way of life that interested me a great deal. Their habits and behavioral patterns were superficial but yet something inside me tells me that there was more than what meets the eye. Although I can hypothesize until I'm blue in the face, there is no real way to determine what life was actually like during those ancient times. This discovery has led to a new aspect of knowledge about life in the early twenty-first century and will most certainly have an impact in future historical documentation.