Mike Hornick, Staff Writer
Mike Hornick, Staff Writer

Every summer, Gilroy, Calif., police Capt. Kurt Svardal finds himself confronted by suspects heavily armed with bad breath.

They number in the thousands and include his own family members.

As president of the nonprofit Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Svardal indulges in the pungent commodity as freely as any of them and has to face the same social consequences.

Maybe the addition of Scope Mouthwash to the list of event sponsors will bring some relief.

The annual festival in Gilroy, Calif., is set for July 29-31. Scope, a division of Procter & Gamble, plans to reveal the name of its new breath product there. It’s scheduled to hit nationwide retail in August.

Free samples will be distributed all three days near the festival’s Cook-Off Theater.

“They’re giving all our patrons what some of them will absolutely be in need of — significant breath freshening,” Svardal said.

Scope is taking on a tall order.

“You’ve got 100,000 people eating garlic,” Svardal said.

“It’s a perfect venue for Scope to put their money where their mouth is and show the worthiness of their product. If you go home and kiss your loved one and they say, ‘Oh, get away from me,’ that’s the test.”

The festival approved Scope’s participation in June. Board members had sampled the new product and given it the green light after eating a meal of garlic chicken pizza and garlic fries.

For more than 30 years now, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has prided itself on being a community event, even as its size grew exponentially.

Revenue above expenses goes to charities and projects — such as renovation of an amphitheater in Gilroy — chosen locally.

The festival can be selective about corporate participation. It even turned down some breath products in the past, Svardal said, but liked what it saw in Scope’s proposal.

“When the corporate world comes in, we want to work with them but we went to feel it’s a win for both of us,” he said.

“And it is. With their becoming a sponsoring partner, any money we raise through Scope doesn’t go to just one charity. It goes to where our volunteers are designating.”

The festival is staffed by about 4,000 volunteers.

Sunny Anderson, host of the Food Network’s “Cooking for Real,” is expected to participate in Scope’s product unveiling.

I await it with bated breath.

mhornick@thepacker.com

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