[Metroactive Features]

[ Features Index | Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]


Come Back, Sailor McSwine!

Whatever happened to the sugar-smacked-up mascots of yesteryear?

By Richard von Busack

THE MODERN WORLD may not be what some of us had dreamed it was going to be, but the cereal certainly is cheap now! Generic cereal is down to sometimes $2 a box, with the help of various rebates and those little premium membership cards the grocery/military complex uses to track your every move by satellite. The old days when a box of nutrition-free crunch 'ems was a food only for kings is gone. (They're the food of princesses, anyway, since reportedly Di used to binge and purge cold cereal.)

The easiest slur at a nation--the handiest rock for a demagogue to throw--is that foreigners eat weird foods. Germans insist on sauerkraut, the French lunch on snails and frog's legs; you know the drill. Looking for a slander against the USA, someone might coin a phrase that describes cereal eaters: a sugared-out nation, dressed in jammieslike clothing, slurping away, always dreaming of the elusive prize inside the package.

And yet, as they say in kung fu movies, cereal is not to be disrespected. Cereal, more than burgers, is truly the national chow.

And this is as it should be. What Biter regrets about our domestic flood of generic cereal is that there are no mascots. Take for instance, Nutty Nuggets, Safeway's faux-version of Grape Nuts ("My father was so stupid he thought Grape Nuts was a venereal disease"--Dom DeLuise.). It might shift more units if it screamed "fun!" to the key market. How about the slogan "They're wild, they're crrrrrazy, they're Nutty Nuggets™!" And for their boxes, how about a group of mentally challenged superheroes: Captain Wacky, the Gibber, Multipersonality Man and so forth. We can blue-sky some others.

Provided Biter didn't have to deal with other human beings during the course of his day, he could cough up five cartoon mascots before lunch--like, say, Huggy the Chap-Happy Rainbow Bear. Fifteen seconds Huggy took me. It's a gift. Everybody deserves a mascot. Advance America, the payday loan company, has lovable personality "Unexpected Bill"--an ad campaign Biter likes to feel he had something to do with, if only by paying for the campaign, month and month again.

Another possibility for these lonesome generics is taking an old cereal mascot out of mothballs and reinventing him, her or it, Marvel Comics style. Observe www.lavasurfer.com, a Sargasso Sea of demised cereal mascots. Complete as it is, not all of your favorites are there. Snubbed 'scots include Twinkles Sprinkler of General Mills' Sugar-Sprinkled Twinkles (say that before your caffeinated libation) alongside Fruit Brute, a fruity werewolf, also from General Mills. Who could forget Blue Kangaroo, a sunglasses-wearing hipster who crooned, "I'm a blue kangaroo, how do you do? I got a new cereal, called Ooobopperoos." Blue Kangaroo may have hung out with So-Hi, Post Sugar-Coated Rice Crinkles' politically incorrect '60s-era Asian mascot. Not to mention Big Otis, the brawny Scotsman who hawked Kellogg's OK Oats. All of these cheerful foddermongers are gone, the snow deep on their graves, in a lonely tragic moor on the Island of Misfit Toys, not far from a place we like to call ... the Twilight Zone.

(The above is dedicated to the unsung advertising men and women who died of chemicals drunk, snorted or ingested to make them forget the 10-hour days they spent coming up with a catchy name for a chartreuse pterodactyl.)

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

[ Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

From the July 10-16, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate