Mr. Kendall J. Powell (CEO)
General Mills, Inc.
P.O. Box 9452
Minneapolis, MN 55440
Dear Mr. Powell and Associates of General Mills:
I’ve figured it out and I know what you’re up to. You probably thought I’d never find out your dirty little secret didn’t you? I know you’ve waited 40 years to launch your master plan to prey on the innocent youth of America but I am here to tell you that I won’t let you win.
It all started in 1971 and I can just imagine your evil minions all concocting the scheme. Releasing Monster Cereals in the hopes of eventually controlling the heart and mind of all good children and like a fool I drank the Kool-Aid. You knew I couldn’t resist the combination of chocolate and vampires.
You waited silently while the children grew into adults. It was the perfect scheme: An entire generation willfully consuming the goodness of Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry.
It wasn’t until last Summer that you put your master plan into effect. Slowly taking the cereals loved by millions off of the shelves of the grocery store. Little by little both myself and the other children of the disco generation saw their old friends disappear. You knew it was only a matter of time before you would control them.
I began scouring the country-side for chocolately goodness. I even thought of paying outrageous prices online in attempt to fuel the fix you started. I would have done anything.
But then you made your one fatal mistake. Something you didn’t count on.
Unbeknownst to you, a large stash of Count, Frank and Boo managed to make their way to the grocery shelves in time for Halloween. Stores began selling them at a discounted rate in attempt to deplete their inventories before the Feds showed up and I purchased as much contraband as I could to stock up for the Winter.
So why you may have gotten others to bow before the Big G you’ll NEVER get me. I’ve got enough of Monster Cereal to see me through next Summer and beyond.
I was trying to think of a witty title for this entry. “Ode to Coffee”, “Java-Licious” and “Joe Momma” all came to mind. But in the end I simply decided that the single word speaks for itself and should not be tampered with.
I’m talking about coffee. That wonderful dark brewed beverage with a slightly acidic flavor that’s prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The drink that starts every morning off for me (and one that goes great along side a bowl of Count Chocula if you really want to know).
I can just imagine the joy the early Ethiopian settlers must have had when they brewed their first pot over an open flame. As the sun rose over the African terrain and they took that first sip I’m sure it was probably equivalent to that of when man first discovered fire and invented bacon. And centuries later we’re still giving thanks.
Having been around for such a long time might make one take the glory of coffee for granted. But not me. I don’t just blindly pour a cup from a pot in the office kitchen. For me, coffee is much more than just a drink. Coffee is an experience. Half of the fun of drinking coffee is in the camaraderie of getting into a car with a bunch of your friends and making the excursion to obtain the nectar of the Gods.
I know that there are some heathens out there who like to ruin the coffee experience by putting things like whipped cream and sprinkles into their cup of joe. These folks should have their java card taken away. Sweetness is necessary but not at the expense of turning coffee into ice-cream.
But how do you make a perfect cup of coffee? I’m glad you asked. There are actually only four steps needed to obtain the proper cup of coffee from any reputable coffee establishment:
1. Order a 20 oz (or Venti) sized coffee. Always go for the big size. If you are going to enjoy coffee it’s best to not go too small where you’ll be wanting more when your finished. Upon your last sip you should be completely satisfied with your coffee consumption. Not too little. Not too much. Just right. You know, like Goldilocks.
2. Under no circumstances should you allow a barista to place sugars/cream into your coffee. Always take it black and prepare it yourself.
3. Pour in the equivalent of two creamers. Coffee should have a slight milky consistency. Not too dark. Never allow a Dunkin Donuts barista to add cream. Their “2” creams are more equivalent to “30”. I want to drink coffee, not milk.
4. Add six packets of Equal to taste. Add half packet extra if necessary.
I know. You’re probably thinking “What kind of man puts Equal in his coffee?” And all I can say to that is “Don’t Hate”. As I’ve said before, a little sweetness is very much necessary and encouraged.
So the next time you’re standing in line at Starbucks, in the Mickey Dees drive-thru or putting a K-Cup into your Keurig remember to give thanks to those tribesmen who made it possible all those centuries ago. There’s is a gift we never will be able to repay.
And last and most importantly: always enjoy responsibly.
Since my reunion with my home boys Frank, Count and Boo last Monday I’ve been doing some heavy thinking on what my next blog entry should be (in between enjoying hearty bowls of monster goodness of course). I didn’t have to think too long though. It was quite obvious that this blog post needed to be about the absolute BEST cereals ever-growing up.
You know, I feel bad for those people who never had the opportunity to indulge in sugar-coated mornings. The ones whose Moms brought home nothing but bland Cheerios, Cracklin Oat Bran and Puffed Rice. Puffed Rice?? For a kid?? Only people over the age of 70 eat Puffed Rice.
Some of my best memories from childhood include the days when my Mom and Grandmother came home from the local Food Lane. They’d walk in the door with 7 or 8 huge paper bags filled with groceries and I loved rummaging through each and every one of them. Throwing pickle jars and butter to the side to find the box of sweet goodness buried within. Having them yell at me when I attempted to open the box to obtain the prize inside without waiting until breakfast. Still not sure what that was all about.
In any event and without any further adieu, here are my top ten cereals of all time:
10.Trix. I felt bad for the silly rabbit who never got his Trix. In every commercial he always came so close to getting them. Remember when they held an election every so often to decide if the rabbit should get Trix? You’d cut out a Yes or No on the box and mail it in? I think it was rigged though. There’s no way everyone would deny the rabbit his Trix. That’s just Un-American to me.
9. Cocoa Puffs: I could somehow relate to Sonny, The Cuckoo Bird. That chocolaty goodness sure was hard to resist. I always thought this was a cereal that tried to compete with the big boys but always fell a little bit short. Don’t get me wrong though. I ate enough of this stuff to keep me on a sugar high for years.
8. Super Sugar Crisp. How it will ALWAYS be remembered by me. Yes, before Sugar Bear became “Super Bear” and Post changed the name from “Sugar” Crisp to “Golden” Crisp. I’d like to meet one of the Mothers who was comforted by the fact that even though they changed the name of the cereal and mascot every bowl still contained 18 grams of sugar.
7. Freakies. I honestly don’t remember too much of this cereal. It looks like it was only marketed for five years. I have an old Polaroid picture of me around age 7 eating a bowl of it so I assume it must have been delish. I didn’t eat crap back then.
6. Cap’n Crunch. I loved all the flavors of the Cap’n. I’m even an avid follower of him on Twitter (and he even follows ME). I used to love it when the Cap’n would have his treasure hunt games. You’d get a game piece in the box and have to call some phone number to get a clue. I still wonder if anyone ever won the bicycle they were giving away or if it was only a ploy to get you to eat more crunch. If it was the latter, it worked because I ate plenty.
5 Fruity Pebbles. If there was ever any cereal that I could eat a whole box of in one sitting it would be this. Much like a fine wine or good lager it goes down smooth and never seems to fill you up. I read an article somewhere that said since 1970 Fruity Pebbles is the most popular cereal purchased in America and I can see why. It’s addicting.
4. Quisp. I’d be surprised if many of you remember this one. This cereal is actually one of the earliest ones I remember having growing up. The little alien guy with the beanie. Quisp is rare to find these days but is still made. I think it’s actually just saucer-shaped Cap’n Crunch (it’s made by the same company). But the whole alien thing is what kept me coming back.
3. Lucky Charms: There’s something about Lucky Charms that’s like crack to me. It’s got to be the marshmallows. I’ve been writing to General Mills for years asking them to make an “Oops! All Marshmallows” version of Lucky Charms. I think they’re ignoring me.
2 Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute: I had a hard time choosing between these three so I selected them all. If I was stuck on a deserted island and my number one choice was not available these would be what I’d choose for breakfast every morning. I mean, what’s not to love about having breakfast with a ghost, werewolf or frankenstein?
1. Count Chocula: An absolute no brainer if you’ve been following my blog, Facebook or Twitter feeds. Who else would love a cereal so much as to read it bedtime stories, take on motorcycle rides or have it’s picture taken with the guys who wrote Sister Christian? That’s how much I love this stuff. Count used to be available year round, even when Frankenberry and Boo Berry went by the way side. Sadly, it only appears now at Halloween time but I plan on stocking up.
Your turn: Let me know some of your favorites. How does it compare to this list?
“Guess who just got back today? Them wild-eyed boys that had been away Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say But man, I still think them cats are crazy”
Phil Lynott – Thin Lizzy
One day, not too long ago, I woke up and they were gone. The friends I had known and loved since childhood had just up and left without so much as even saying goodbye.
Perhaps it’s my fault. I was the one who abandoned them. I’d always assumed they’d be there when ever the urge would strike me. Sure, I’d walk down their street quite often when out on grocery excursions but sometimes I was just too caught up in the task at hand to even stop by and say “Hello”.
I’ll admit, when I heard the news of their flight I felt an empty feeling in my stomach. A churning sensation. And I knew my days would never start out properly anymore. I lamented the laughter. The good conversations we all had. The little plastic things made in their image that they used to bring me as presents. All those thoughts and feelings came rushing back.
Days turned into months without so much as a word from them. I considered posting their images on a milk carton (skim of course) but the dairy farmers all laughed me to scorn. They didn’t get it. So I did the next best thing to get the word out.
I took an image and had my picture taken with the band Night Ranger at a recent concert. My hope was to get the message out that my friends were missing and I needed them back more than anything.
That’s when the General Mills Gods must have heard me.
Last night around 10pm I received a call from a friend of mine who used to hang out with the boys too. I could hardly hear what she was saying through all the tears. She told me she had spotted the boys at the Wegmans supermarket. They were there and they were asking about me.
Even though the hour was late, I quickly grabbed my keys and made haste to the local Wegmans. As I rushed in the door I was greeted by the strong smell of cinnamon. I surmised that either the bakers had made rolls this morning or the Apple Jacks kids were firing one up in celebration. I chuckled assuming it was the latter.
I quickly went to the spot we always used to hang out in. Nothing. I saw nothing but frogs, rabbits, magicians, some crazy bird and a leprechaun. My friends were no where in sight. That empty feeling in my stomach was back and I assumed tomorrow would be no different then it has already been for so many months.
It was at that moment I had an epiphany. I noticed that the store had already begun putting out trick or treat candy some two months early. I wondered if they might possibly be hanging out in the Halloween aisle. Like me, they always liked that creepy stuff too and at this point it was worth a shot so off I went.
Trolling through piles of bite sized Snickers and Milky Ways the heaven’s parted and there they were. My friends. The ones that had gone on a long vacation were back.
We just stood there looking at each other not really knowing what to say. Finally, my joy became too great and I shouted: “Hey Guys it’s me, Jimmy!!”. A tear rolled down my cheek and I noticed that one of the shopping cart boys who had witnessed this reunion was now fleeing from my vicinity.
We finally embraced and I brought the boys home. I didn’t ask them why they left or how long they might be staying. I just wanted this moment to last forever.
I’ve decided that after breakfast this morning I’m sending my testimony in to Maury. I think between all the “You ARE The Father” segments, this reunion would make a nice story.
I still remember the first time I ever heard Night Ranger. My neighbor Mike, who lived next door to me growing up, called me up one Friday night and asked me if I wanted to go to the Palmer Mall. Back in the early 1980’s, having your parents drive you to the mall was all the rage. I suppose it still sort of is today but not like it was back then.
On the drive over in his parents big blue station wagon Mike asked his Mom to put in this beat up white cassette tape that he had. Mike had copied the tape from someone else and it was old school music piracy at it’s finest. “Jim, Wait until you listen to this band” he said. And from the time the first sounds of “You Can Still Rock in America” started coming over the scratchy speakers I was hooked.
“Who is this?” I asked Mike. I had no idea who this group was but it was different from anything the two of us had ever heard before. We had always been more of a Cars, REO Speedwagon and Rod Stewart type of fan that never let anything “new” enter our musical world. But this was different…and exciting.
“They’re called Night Ranger and they are friggin awesome!” Mike responded and I couldn’t agree more. All the way from our homes on South Side to Palmer Township we listened to that bootlegged tape. Hearing “Sister Christian”, “When You Close Your Eyes” and “Rumors in the Air” for the first time was thirteen year old male audio euphoria.
Upon arriving to the mall our first stop was to the Listening Booth, the only place in town to buy records. That’s where Mike redeemed himself and purchased the full on copy of the vinyl “Midnight Madness” record for us to enjoy as we played video games in his basement.
A year or so later I made one of my own very first vinyl album purchases. A copy of “Seven Wishes”, which was the follow-up to “Midnight Madness”. I remember Mike and I wearing that album out as well. We were so hooked on this band and were fortunate enough to see them live in concert at Stabler Arena. One of the best shows ever.
So now fast forward a few decades. Adult life has taken over for me and I’ve become the one listening to my daughter’s music as I drive her to the mall. As for Night Ranger? Well, they are still touring on occasion and releasing albums every so often. Some of it really great music although sadly, nothing on par with the success of the ones I mentioned earlier. The music industry has changed so much they’re just not welcome in the mainstream any more.
In March of this year, I discovered they had released another new record and were coming to my hometown for the first time in twenty some odd years and knew I had to be a part of it.
Additionally, they were offering ticket packages that included an awesome seat and a meet and greet with the band. In 1985, I probably couldn’t get anywhere near these guys. And now, for a C-note, you could get up close and personal. Which was right up my alley.
Seeing Night Ranger perform this past Wednesday night in Allentown was surreal. Most people today would have no idea who these guys are. Unless you play them a few bars of “Sister Christian” which has become they’re trademark. I found myself being taken back in the 80’s watching them perform those songs. I thought about Mike and that Friday night drive. Listening to this music for the first time. We were young, and everything was new.
Suffice to say, I was ecstatic to be ushered back to meet the band. Even though they had no idea who the hell I was, it was an emotional experience to shake hands with the guys that were indirectly a part of my teenage years.
I still had my “Seven Wishes” album that I managed to dig up from an old box in the basement. The album had sat in silence for years collecting dust. But now it too has become new as the three original members who played on it autographed it for me. The album will now be framed and adorn my wall to always remind me of that night.
The meet and greet also included one photo opportunity with the band and it was at that point that I made an odd request. I didn’t want the photograph to just be a pic of me smiling with the guys in the band. That would be too typical. No, I wanted it to be different. Something to remind me of my childhood. So in the end I brought along an empty box of Count Chocula, my favorite cereal growing up.
The band was very receptive to having the box in the picture with us. In reality though, I suspect they probably thought I was crazy because everyone I’ve shown the picture to tells me so. But the more I think about it, it’s probably a good thing if they think that way.
Because somewhere down the road, someone is going to interview them about their long, stoic career and ask them what was the oddest experience they’ve ever had with fans. And I can just picture them laughing and saying to each other:
“Hey, do you remember that guy that wanted his picture taken with a box of Count Chocula?”.
Set your dials ladies, or perhaps DVRs is the more appropriate 21st century term but in either case the new season of True Blood has begun on HBO. There’s sure to be plenty of vampires, intrigue, suspense, sex, and violence to keep you on the edge of your seat all season. Facebook status updates from women will light up with just two words as show time arrives: “True Blood”.
Now you might assume that me, being male, would be right there with you watching Sookie, Bill, Sam and all the rest. I mean, who am I to pass up sex and uh, what’s that other stuff? Oh yeah, those blood sucking creatures of the night! Sorry, lost track of thought there for a minute. But truth be told, I am not a fan. I’ve honestly tried watching it and even rented the first few seasons on DVD to see what all the fuss was about but as soon as I fell asleep half way through episode four that was it for me. I just couldn’t get into it.
Perhaps I should put the “Women and True Blood” phenomenon in the same category as a few other things that I just don’t understand about the opposite sex. Like, why is it only HER prerogative to change her mind? Or, why do women like to see NKOTB and BSB dozens of times? If you’re unsure about what those initials stand for, you’re obviously a dude. But here’s probably the most perplexing question that mankind wants to know the answer to:
What is it about vampires that women find so irresistible?
I’m not even talking about the True Blood series so much. That show doesn’t even come close to the amount of female mayhem created by what’s coming soon to a theatre near you. That’s because in a few months, there will yet another Twilight movie out. I don’t even know what this one is actually called either. New Dawn? Breaking Moon? It doesn’t matter actually, to me they’re all the same. It will be a movie that will no doubt be panned by critics as simply dreadful but will inevitably have women of all ages flocking in droves to see it. Over and over again.
Once again there will be stories at work from those of the female persuasion about how excited they are to be going with a gaggle of their friends for the first showing. How they’ve read and re-read every paragraph from every book. It won’t even matter if they have to go to work the next day (some of them will actually use vacation time). They simply have got to be one of the first ones to see it at midnight. And here’s the part that really drives me crazy. Without even having seen the movie yet, they will have already made plans to see it again with another gaggle a few days later.
Worse still, the familiar question will once again be posed among women: Who’s side are you on – “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”? and lamenting “Oh, if only Bella could have both the vampire AND the werewolf?”
I’ve wasted many hours trying to see what all the hub bub was about. Even painfully making myself read the first book while on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few years ago. Hours of my life I’ll never get back and I still didn’t discover the secret.
Now before you ladies go and say that I shouldn’t even be talking because I’ve probably never liked vampires in the first place, let me just set the record straight. I do have experience when it comes to vampires. The fact is, I’ve been a fan from way back.
First of all, Count Chocula has been my all time favorite cereal since, like forever. I was eating vampire food since I was a kid. And a few months ago, when I found out that Count had gone on hiatus at my grocery store until October well, let’s just say I didn’t come out of my room for weeks.
Still need more proof? Well then consider this: in 1982 I was an avid reader of Dynamite magazine. That children’s magazine devoted two pages every month to a cartoon vampire, Count Morbida, who had puzzles to solve. I was such a huge fan that not only did I start a fan club but also wrote a letter to Dynamite about it that they published. We’re talking thirty years here girls. See for yourself if you don’t believe me:
Dear Count Morbida,
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that we have formed your first fan club. Now we need a poster of you. Check with the Dynamite staff and see if you can send us one.
Jim Wood, Easton, PA
The odd thing is, not too long ago women would cringe at the thought of being attacked by a vampire. Now, they’re lining up in droves just for a chance of receiving a bite from Edward. Maybe I’m a bit jealous but what does a vampire have that the mortal man does not?
Take me for example. Aside from not being able to turn into a bat or having a taste for blood, I have attributes of being a vampire so why couldn’t all this attention be placed on someone like me instead of some fictional character?
First of all, I am fair-skinned, much like the creatures of the night. Secondly, my teeth were quite pointy growing up until I got braces. Or how about this one: Even my middle name is Edward. HELLO?? But I don’t see you ladies lining up at my door fighting each other over whether you’re on my “Team” or not (although if you did, I think I’d prefer it to be called “Team Jimbo”).
What’s even stranger is the fact that this whole vampire craze among women just seemed to pop up overnight. When I was growing up, there was NEVER any interest in vampires from the girls I knew. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When I asked a bunch of girls in the neighborhood to join my Count Morbida Fan Club all I was greeted with was “Jimmy’s Got Cooties…. Jimmy’s Got Cooties” every time they saw me for the next six months.
And in high school, when I asked a girl if she wanted to go see Dracula vs Godzilla with me she suddenly came down with some mysterious ailment. One that made her never able to speak to me again. Sure hope she’s doing ok.
So here we are now in the summer of 2011 and the vampire craze is starting to gear up again. Women will once again be wishing they were a chick with a gap between her teeth or going gaga over some 19-year-old kid with abs.
Hmmmm, could it be the abs combined with high levels of estrogen that causes it? Something more scientific with the “X” chromosome that I don’t understand? I would even stop putting garlic on my pizza and avoid excessive sunlight if it would help find the answer. If any of you ladies can enlighten me on why you like this stuff so much I’d love to hear it.
But until this passes I guess I’m just going to have to get into a box and close the lid because, ultimately there will be no escape.