Israeli Olympics-Bamba Debacle in its proper historical context

By now, the attempt by Osem to make the Bamba baby official mascot for Israel’s 2012 Olympic team is no longer news. In summary: the decision was announced, there was a brief outcry, some articles were written, the decision was retracted, and some more articles were written. Not much that can be said about the episode remains unsaid.

But while Bamba – the product – has obviously been part of my awareness for years, this incident called to mind the last time I remember encountering the product in the news, when Osem came out with Bamba cereal in 2004. At the time, Nestle-Osem CEO Dan Popper explained:

Bamba is Osem’s holiest of holies… We were thinking about different consumer opportunities, and we came to the conclusion that the only time kids do not eat Bamba is in the morning, so we decided to develop a product that will make it possible to eat it then.

I recall being somewhat skeptical of the claim that ‘the only time kids do not eat Bamba is in the morning’ – they are obviously not literally eating it at all other times of day – so I shared the quote with some friends, along with my suggestion that if Osem hoped to truly saturate the market, the next logical step would be to intravenously inject children with Bamba in their sleep. Mmmm. Peanut blooder.*

*this is a terrible, and also nauseating, pun

Fast forward to the present, and I am left to speculate that the reason Osem so readily withdrew the Bamba baby from consideration as mascot was the realization that in order to participate in the Olympics, the intravenous injection program would be compromised by the organization’s mandatory hematological doping tests.


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