By Mark Ambrogi
For one day, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard made a proclamation to rename his beloved town as Caramel, pronounced ker-uh-muhl, although it pained him to do so.
“A lot of people have questioned how we pronounce our town’s name over the years, especially given that little town out in California that says it wrong,” Brainard said.
Werther’s Originals chose Carmel to celebrate National Caramel Day April 5 in the Carmel Arts & Design District. Guests enjoyed sampling free caramels, games and voting on whether caramel is pronounced kar-muhl or ker-uh-mehl.
“It’s a great promotion for Werther’s and it’s fun for the people in Carmel,” Brainard said.
Brainard said it was a great turnout, even with Carmel Clay Schools being on spring break.
One of the guests was Trista Sutter, who was the runner-up on the first season of “The Bachelor” and then was “The Bachelorette” in its first season in 2003.
“I was super excited, because I love Carmel and I grew up with grandparents who always had Werther’s in a crystal bowl in their (West Lafayette) home,” said Sutter, who lives in Colorado.
Another guest was Carmel High School standout Mark Herrmann, who played quarterback for Purdue and five NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts. Herrmann said he was contacted by Werther’s representatives.
“They know I was a Carmel guy, so they thought it was a good fit,” Herrmann said. “I voted for kar-muhl over ker-uh-muhl.”
Herrmann is in the minority nationally. Meredith Suffron, director of marketing for Werther’s Originals, said nationally 57 percent voted for ker-uh-muhl. The only region that voted for kar-muhl was the Midwest, where it’s reversed with 57 percent favoring that pronunciation.
Suffron, who has undergraduate and master’s degrees from Indiana University, said they expected to distribute 30,000 caramel pieces at the event.
“(This event) is all about the debate, how to pronounce it,” Suffron said.
Westfield resident Ashley Dirks came with her four sons and infant daughter while Westfield Washington Schools is on spring break as well.
“We trying to find local fun things to keep us busy since we’re not travelers this spring break,” Dirks said. “I say Car-mel, Indiana, but ker-uh-mul when it’s going in my mouth.”