Durex launched, albeit on Twitter, an eggplant, or aubergine, flavoured condom and many a baingan bharta jokes were made. While many were confused, for good reason, as to why a leading condom company would stray from classic flavours like strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and other ice cream flavours and delve into a world of rather odd savoury flavours, quite a few people took it literally instead of what it was intended for.
In November last year, Durex released the results of its study that found that most people aged 18-25 were comfortable using food emojis to talk about sex online. Business Wire reported that the study made a compelling argument for the inclusion of the condom emoji to talk about safe sex.
“80% of 18-25 year olds find it easier to express themselves using emojis and more than half of respondents regularly using emojis when discussing sex. 84% of 18-25 year olds said they feel more comfortable talking about sex using emojis. More than one-third of 18-25 year olds claim not to care about safe sex and nearly half think that HIV will never affect them or their friends,” the study noted. It also made a list of vegetables used to denote sex in texts which ranged from cucumbers, carrots, bananas, peaches, and of course, the eggplant which in sexting refers a penis.
#SafeSexting and #CondomEmoji had trended online and even after much persuasion to include a condom emoji in texting, it didn’t get much action. Mirror UK got in touch with a spokesperson to dispel the rumours about the eggplant flavor condom is all about. “The announcement was to further its campaign to see a condom emoji introduced to promote safe sex to young people. ‘Durex knows there is no place for an aubergine when it comes to safe sex’, a spokesperson told Mirror Online. It’s just as questionable, in fact, as a decision not to introduce a Safe Sex Emoji to empower young people to talk about sex, safely, in a language they are comfortable with,” the report said.
Durex even wrote a letter to the Unicode Consortium in May, an NGO that approves new entries for the Unicode writing system, to include the condom as an emoji. CNET reported that, “adding a condom emoji to the visual language would offer more than just something for giggly teenagers to text each other when adults aren’t looking. The condom emoji will ‘empower them to talk openly about protection’ noting that communication is ‘vital to prevent STIs, HIV and AIDS.’”
And guess what we did–we giggled like teenagers, of course. It’s safe to say that the baingan has entered the public memory and won’t lose steam anytime soon. While there are other, more nuanced flavours like bubblegum and bacon in the market, we can shout sacrilege on their “favourite” food and make fun of the whole situation as well, but Durex is the best judge of what works when it comes to flavoured condoms.