Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin' Green Ketchup, 24-oz bottle (H.J. Heinz Co.)

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you're probably aware that the folks at Heinz are now selling green ketchup. But one thing you might not realize, because it doesn't appear to have gotten much attention, is that the new ketchup's official color, as listed on the package, is not green -- it's Blastin' Green.

I'm not sure how Blastin' Green differs from conventional green, but I know this much: "Blast"-derived descriptors are becoming all the rage on the consumer landscape, especially for products aimed at kids and young adults. Consider: Kellogg's makes Marshmallow-Blasted Froot Loops and Wild Tropical Blast Pop-Tarts; Powerade sports drink comes in a flavor called Mountain Blast; Kool-Aid has a Blastin' Berry-Cherry flavor, plus a special series of flavors called Blast-Offs; Betty Crocker Fruit Gushers include a flavor called Watermelon Blast; Mistic beverages include several flavors under the Mistic Fruit Blast banner; and Pepperidge Farm has five varieties of Flavor Blasted Goldfish crackers, two of which -- Nuclear Nacho and Xplosive Pizza -- play up the explosion motif even futher.

Pyrotechnics, munitions, and the like may not seem like the most obvious way to sell a product, but they have a certain niche in marketing history. Big clearance sales are often called "blowouts," after all, and if you have a keen memory (or a ballistics fetish) you may recall that Quaker Oats used to tout its Puffed Wheat cereal as "The cereal that's shot from guns!" But the current emphasis on "Blast" seems to owe less to these earlier examples than to a desire to cash in on the rise of "extreme" youth culture. As such, the trend feels rather lazy and uninspired, especially when it's pumped up with meaningless hype. The Pepperidge Farm Goldfish web site, for example, was recently littered with empty phrases like "Take a cheddar cheese Goldfish and blast it!" and "The cheese is goin' wild in these blastin' crackers!" -- whatever that means.

So what's the idea behind all this? When queried about Blastin' Green, a Heinz spokesperson said, "Well, uh, it doesn't really mean anything. It's just a name that will appeal more to kids." Pressed further, she added, "The names are more appealing when they have energy and excitement behind them. I mean, if you're a kid, which one are you going to pick -- green, or Blastin' Green?" Calls to other companies yielded virtually identical responses.

Call me a curmudgeon, but that sounds very weak to me. I realize today's kids have an increasing number of things competing for their attentions (the internet, Pokemon, etc.), but is using a "Blast" term really going to cut through the clutter, especially when umpteen other brands are already doing the same thing? I'd like to think that kids are smarter than that. And as for Heinz and their green ketchup, it's worth noting that nobody has more experience marketing colors to children than Crayola. You know what they call their green crayon? Green. What a revolutionary concept.