What do Indonesian women look like? This may be a legitimate field of inquiry for you, whether you’ll be living in Indonesia as an expat or attending mixed-race dinner parties in LA or DC. On the other hand, you may have no legitimate interest in this type of thing. In which case may we recommend further reading about Indonesian Spice & Herbals.
But what hot Indo babes look like is certainly of interest to young Indonesian guys, 70% of whom begin smoking before they’re 19 [cite ]. And that’s presumably the reason for all the R&D that goes into Black’s smoking hot new cigarette flavors as well as their tight auto expositions that feature Indonesian models of all types. Black also controls a major banking group and Grand Indonesia, the mall of malls, just around the corner from the Sharehouse.
In any event, you’re looking at one of most sophisticated advertising campaigns in Indonesia — and the product is a kretek or flavored cigarette. According to a study by Monika Arenz, the kretek industry is Indonesia’s second biggest employer. As a Big Three smokes maker, Black sells real-as-can-be cigarettes in flavors ranging from chocolate to cherry, but they almost never target Indonesian women. While Indonesian kreteks are popular around the world, in the US only menthol — Americans’ most favored flavor — is still allowed. (The rest are banned for being un-kool). Here in Asia where there are more — not less — smokers every day, Phillip Morris recently purchased its own massive piece of the pie AKA Sampoerna.
In fact, the kretek (which people associate with cloves, the key flavor) is kind of an Indonesian version of menthol. First, eugenol (from cloves ) and menthol (from mint) share certain pytochemical similarities; and both have anaesthetic properties. They add complexity to already-complex cultural phenomena. Interestingly, the study suggests that betel — “perhaps the widest spread narcotic in the history of mankind” — once involved similar flavorings. Betel is a tropical vine in the pepper family and in good supply at the Sharehouse. Arenz says that Indonesian women hung on to betel longer than men because 1) it was a better buzz and 2) it wasn’t as if learning to smoke would help Indonesian women get closer to education and work possibilities (although this was the promise that smoking held for men, since it could make them look more Western)
Is it ironic or not that — like Coca-Cola — the kretek was once considered a health innovation? (Check your favorite vapor rub for eugenol.) Beware however, the recipe for kretek “sauce” — combined with cloves to flavor the kreteks — is generally secret. Likewise, Coca-Cola over the years has contained — besides kola nut — cocaine, alcohol and caffeine. Indonesian nutmeg is said to be among still-secret Coke flavorings. In sum, KRETEKS ARE VERY BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH AND CERTAINLY ADDICTIVE. I know people who swear it’s harder to quit clove cigarettes than the usual kind. But knowledge is power and the more you think about this stuff, the more likely you are to quit.