BOSTON — * Remember jelly beans? Ronald Reagan's presidential touch was gold to jelly bean consumption. And remember peanuts? During the Jimmy Carter presidency, peanuts were consumed like popcorn in the United States.
And now, will a saxophone at Bill Clinton's lips mean a riff of sales in the hands of the saxophone industry?
``I don't attribute the growing interest in the saxophone to President Clinton,'' says Albert Alphine, owner of a wind-instrument store in Needham, Mass. ``It comes from kids watching rock bands using saxophones more and more on MTV.''
``Way off-key,'' responds Peter LaPlaca, president of Barrington Music Products in Barrington, Ill. ``Since Clinton became president, we've noticed a steady increase in orders for saxophones,'' he says. ``In fact, our sales have increased by 300 percent over last year at this time.''
Hoping to capitalize on the presidential power to influence popular culture, the Barrington company introduced a limited-edition, red, white, and blue ``Presidential'' tenor saxophone selling for a gusty $3,000. Sax No. 1 in the line went to The Shrine, the Music Museum in Vermillion, S.D. So far, 75 of the saxes have been sold, Mr. LaPlaca says.
Rayburn, a large retail store in Boston, sold 80 gold-plated ``presidential'' saxophones in the first two months of the year for around $800 each.
Some 27,000 saxophones are made in the US each year with another 10,000 to 15,000 sold here and made in Europe or Taiwan, according to industry statistics.
``The saxophone has a sultry sound,'' says Mike Johnson, a spokesman for G. Leblanc Corporation in Kenosha, Wis. ``By nature it appeals to kids.''
Leblanc has been making saxophones since l946 in the US, but started in France in 1750. ``Saxophones started showing up in rock videos,'' Mr. Johnson says, ``because rock bands got tired of the same old combos.
``It's really hot among kids now. I'd say there was a resurgence in all acoustical instruments that peaked about a year ago. Then Clinton became president. Yes, our sales are up, and Clinton appears to be the reason.''