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BETHLEHEM, PA -- Mike and Ike are going their separate ways as part of a marketing campaign for the chewy fruit flavored candies that is sparking attention -- and controversy with conservative groups like the Family Research Council.
Just Born Inc. is playing up what some media reports are calling a "gay divorce" by scribbling out either "Mike" or "Ike" on candy packaging. The packages direct consumers to the brand's Facebook page, where videos document the breakup.
The fictional characters behind the 72-year-old candy brand have been using social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to tell their sides of the split.
The origin of the brand name remains a mystery even to Just Born. Mike and Ike characters first appeared as vaudeville types on packaging in the 1960s, two decades after its launch. In the 1980s, they were reinvented as anthropomorphic fruit. The characters have been absent from packaging since 2004.
The campaign, primarily aimed at consumers aged 13 to 17, will also include television advertising starting this month. It will last for a year, culminating with whether Mike and Ike will reconcile.