Chocolate Computer Disk Is Expected to Take Nice Byte of Holiday Novelty Sales
It started as a public relations gimmick, a cute little ploy to attract customers to a computerized chocolate cookbook.
But within months the truth was obvious to everyone involved: The cookbook was a flop but the give-away gimmick, a milk chocolate replica of a 5-inch floppy disk, was a success.
So, Michael Cahlin, whose Los Angeles public relations firm, Cahlin/Williams, had created the Original Chocolate Byte, decided in 1984 to join the handful of other makers of edible computer novelties.
For the last two holiday seasons, Cahlin, who usually handles public relations for computer software companies, has cranked up his chocolate operations from November through January. So far, without a special sales force or advertising, he has sold about 30,000 of the 4.8-ounce disks to computer retailers, department stores and companies looking for high-tech novelty promotions.
“It was too cute an idea to give up,” says Cahlin. “Besides, I had designed everything myself.” Sales this season, Cahlin adds, are running strong and could exceed 20,000.
Cahlin credits popularity of the item to its packaging in a reusable, plastic software storage case and the fact that it solves a vexing problem for computer illiterates looking for an inexpensive holiday or Valentine’s Day gift for their favorite computer hobbyists.
InfoWorld, a computer magazine, says the $9.95 disk is one of the few gifts “you can give a computer user that doesn’t require you to know anything about format, density, compatibility, etc.”
Still, the chocolate computer novelty business is not making Cahlin a wealthy man. The venture, he says, is barely profitable and not destined “to set the world on fire.” But Cahlin says he is hanging on to it “for fun” and in the hope that someone will buy the idea from him and let him get back to his public relations business year-round.