They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I beg to differ. Quite often (and more often than not), it’s annoying. When I was growing up, it wasn’t good enough to just go to school wearing Members Only jackets and Jordache jeans. In the 80’s, a lot of the kids at my school routinely liked to show up at our educational establishment mimicking their favorite entertainers.
I kid you not, some girls would actually come to school with the exact same haircut and wardrobe ensemble as Pat Benatar or Madonna. Then there was a section of the student body who felt obliged to pay homage to Boy George from Culture Club on a daily basis. And don’t get me started on the dudes who came to school wearing a replica of the jacket Michael Jackson made famous in the “Beat It” video.
Which leads me to yet another atrocity of copy cats I’d like to discuss – the doppelganger world I see whenever I stroll down the cereal aisle at my local grocery store.
As if it weren’t already bad enough that I can only get Count Chocula at Halloween time, half of the shelves that once housed such morning goodness as Quisp, Frute Brute and Waffle O’s are now home to the wannabes; generic cereal that’s been cleverly disguised as some of my all time favorites.
You don’t fool me.
Sure, grocery chains tout that by purchasing generic brands, consumers can still enjoy their favorite breakfast cereal and also save money at the same time. Although there is some truth to that statement, these same people who claim to know what’s best for Americans seem to have forgotten about one very important thing – the fun factor.
Time is a precious commodity in this day and age, and there’s only a certain amount of it we get to spend using it on breakfast. Personally, I’d much rather spend mine with Lucky the Leprechaun, Toucan Sam or Fred Flintstone than with some stranger trying to imitate my homies.
I find it funny how these generic brands of cereal attempt to make themselves out to be alternatives to the name brand by using slightly different names (and characters) in their promotion. For instance, compare the use of the word “swirl” in Fruit Swirls with the “loop” in Froot Loops; an obvious Jedi mind trick. Oh, and look! How convenient…a monkey pitching the product. Could it be that both a monkey AND a toucan might be found in the same deep jungle? I’m sure it was just a coincidence. NOT!
Sometimes, the characters used to pitch generic versions are more blatant than others. As is the case with “Fruity Bits”; a knock off of my beloved Fruity Pebbles. You’ve got to give them credit for using a dinosaur to appeal to the Jurassic customers who’ve regularly indulged in the name brand for years. Sorry, but eating a bowl or these bits doesn’t even come close to the euphoria I’ve experienced by having breakfast with Fred and Barney over the years.
And what’s with the word “bits” anyway? Bits sounds like something you’d give to your dog. It’s not as manly as “pebbles”. Sure, it might sound like you’re eating rocks (and who knows, maybe you are), but this is the stone age we’re talking about, right?
If it were me and the decision had to be made, I’d go with the name brand cereal every time. If for no other reason than I would much rather be sitting at the table in the wee hours of the morning reading about the games Fred and Barney have in store for me than contemplating if it was really worth it to save thirty cents just to buy some knock off. You can’t put a price on happiness.
And as for the grocers who think it’s cool to not stock Count Chocula and some of my other favorites in order to make room for products like these, there’s a special place in Guantanamo for you.