Pectin is fecund field for fruitful grazing. And oh, the orange marmalade! Always the last on everyone’s list. Waitresses replenish strawberry jam towers at twice the pace of the marmalade. It’s sharp, it’s bitter and it looks like massaging self-tanner all over your toast. And nevertheless there is always someone out there who’ll scrape up some Marm with the edge of a knife, lick the blade clean and keep a straight face all the while insisting they meant to eat the stuff and, what’s more, they actually enjoyed it. They’ll say things like “It’s not that bad” as if “bad” is some unit of measure I want to be calculating my food choices in. Or else they’ll tell you “It’s an acquired taste.” Common translation: adjust amounts of ketchup, cheese and bacon to  taste. And still, they sit up late with their elbows on diner counters spreading thick the citric gelatin and stuffing each and every one of their empty pockets with extra pads so they can slink back home, draw a bath and swim like Scrooge McDuck in packets of the stuff.

Peculiar as it is, Orange Marmalade has rooted itself deep in the permafrost of modern social existence.  A taste which, make no mistake about it, is a divisive one is nevertheless well supported by the valuts and buttresses of manic devotees. These heart and soul fans who are very regular and have jelly grins often enough aim their open wallets at  one specific UPC code and all the sudden the ripened, emulsified, chilled, preserved and packaged manifestations of their taste bud’s day-dreaming are right there on the shelves in front of them.  The customer is always right and so the marmalade lives on in the foxholes of disparate support, of morning rituals that play out down cul-de sacs and and up in condominiums complexes and of course in the Acme Incorporated Circus, home too many Food Lions and too few Safeways.

Some mass! That congregation, a multitude of many small convoys who seek the gel spread for their daily bread, who shop after soap operas and fill their carts to the brim with jars of Tatar Sauce and Pimento Olives, who single-handedly try keep Hormel up and running buying can after can of Spam…a power which businessman can’t help but genuflect towards on weakened Shawn Brad-knees.

I sometimes wonder what kind of seizures Marco Polo would have in the aisles of any supermarket lucidly dreaming next to the carcases of a hundred hunts and kills neatly arranged around him. Would he soon find himself face down in the odds and ends of marshmallows and licorices paying homage to high fructose corn syrup? It’s hard to say. He could just as easily make a beeline for the Vegamite or become a disposal of black jelly beans. Would he set sail trying to circumnavigate some O’vn Stuffers and soon wreck, his ship settling down into the deeps of the Marianas Trench of choice and he falling victim to the Benz  and the Bugatti?  Who knows? However, I’d put my money on Mr. Polo erecting a great Marmalade fortress at the center of the store, a citadel, just so he’d have a prime position to throw soggy sauerkraut balls from if the war ever did eventually break out.