Love is … cartoons, illustrated by Kim Casali, filled the 1970s, in tandem with what became one of Coke’s biggest campaigns ‘Coke, it’s the real thing’ … giving consumers no choice as to the rationale for selecting originality and, in effect, Coke (and love).

Love heart

Now perhaps less straightforward fakes, like plants and animals, can con even then most suspect amongst us. Bought online from a reputed site and looking like what we might expect, giftware, toys, health and beauty products, bicycle components and even toothpaste (to name but a few) exist in a cheaper, illicit form which is not what you paid for.

Long ago, fakes were the domain of luxury products – and lost few friends. Those buying a $50 bag on a street corner in New York were unlikely to have the genuine article at home … but nowadays access to fakes online is easier, and often it’s more difficult to tell original and fake apart … due to the price disparity being minimal. As counterfeiters get cleverer, and quality better, price cannot be the determinate feature.

But the fact remains, the fake/copycat/counterfeit, call it what you will, is ripping off someone’s original idea, hard work and reputation. Cheaper, yes, but only because it’s a copy – with no concern of the monies incurred in developing, protecting, marketing, insuring, packaging, and selling the genuine article.

While animals and plants offer their own form of mimicry, for the giftware industry it’s inexcusable, and making a big dent in profits while dissatisfying the end consumer, at best. Worse … and a fake candle may produce poisonous fumes causing more damage than simple disappointment.

Quoting Encyclopedia Britannica, originally a multi-volume tome and now digital … but which, when I was a child, kept bookshelves upright, was a regular part of homework while providing a quite devilish and delicious leather nibble for the hamster on a mission round the lounge ….

“Batesian mimicry, a form of biological resemblance in which a noxious, or dangerous, organism (the model), equipped with a warning system such as conspicuous coloration, is mimicked by a harmless organism (the mimic). The mimic gains protection because predators mistake it for the model and leave it alone. This form of mimicry is named for its discoverer, the 19th-century English naturalist H.W. Bates.”

So for the Coral Snake and the King Charles Snake, too similar by halves, one venomous, one entirely harmless … offer a salutary lesson in the real thing … much like love … do your research!

Happy Valentines’ Day!