The year is 2002, the product is Bonne Bell and the scent is pure, sugary joy. Were Lip Smackers the start of a serious cake habit?
Ever since the first cave lady crushed up a beetle and rubbed it on her face before a trip to the nearest water hole, we’ve used cosmetics to try and make people kiss us. Iodine, pearlescent fish scales, beeswax… and their eventual evolutionary zenith, Bonne Bell lip gloss.
Because, as a 14-year-old at an all-girls’ school, the logic went something like this: everybody likes cake. I will make my face smell like cake. Boys will then want to kiss my face. It was foolproof.
And easier, trendier and greasier than spending all day with my head in a packet of Mr Kipling was the American Bonne Bell and their wonderfully American range of glitter-crusted, dessert-themed, soda-infused lip lubes, all guaranteed to leave your hair stuck to your face in a breeze.
Occupying a wonderful space on the venn diagram of cosmetics between ‘pretty’ and ‘pudding’, they were plenty cheap enough to buy in bulk from Superdrug, but still had a gloopy novelty that left Carmex and Vaseline in the shade. Among my favourites were cherry cola Lip Smacker, birthday cake lip ‘frosting’ and chocolate fudge sundae swirl gloss. Did I mention it was American?
For more or less the whole of year nine, Bonne Bell was our currency. We swapped them, gifted them, kept them in sticky piles in our pencil cases. So prolific was our collection that we would take them out during English lessons and line them up along the whole length of the desks, firmly convinced that understanding Tess of the D’Urbervilles wouldn’t serve us nearly as well in life as smelling like the cheesecake rotisserie in a Wimpy bar.
Of course, for more or less the whole of year nine we also waited patiently for the queue of suitors to arrive, Pied Piper of Hamelin-style, in a cloud of leather thong necklaces and Lynx Africa. They never did.
But now, when I want to make my face smell of cake, I generally just eat some cake. And I do it for ME.