Alan Sues – One Nutty Guy

I think I grew up eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches.

There was always that satisfying mix of peanut butter with jellies, jams, bananas, honey or even apples served in our kitchen. Mom always had first choice of getting the brand name but sometimes us kids were given a chance to pick what type we would get. There was Koogle peanut butter flavored with chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and banana. Other favorites were Jif, Skippy and the local Bama brand. There was even one pre- mixed with grape jelly…but the one I always wanted to buy was Peter Pan.

Sure I knew who the character was from the Disney cartoon and the old Mary Martin television specials, but the real reason I like this brand was because of the crazy commercial that aired on TV featuring an insane and bumbling adult dressed as Peter Pan pushing the product. In the 70’s this was played by comedian Alan Sues.

Alan Sues took his Final Taxi this week at the age of 85.

Sues will be better known by some people as the flamboyant regular comic on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in the late 1960s and early ’70s. He played mostly effeminate characters, such as Big Al, in a time when ‘coming out’ meant the end of your professional career. Sues joined the weekly cast of Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley, Arte Johnson and Henry Gibson in the hip and wacky comedy show.

Sues played in a few films such as “The Americanization of Emily” (1964) and “ Snowballing” (1984) but I adored him in the 1980 movie “O Heavenly Dog” with Chevy Chase, Jane Seymour and Benji. He also appeared in episodes of “The Twilight Zone”, “The Wild Wild West”, and “Punky Brewster”. He was the jealous reindeer in “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”.

Alan Sues was one nutty guy.

 

Youtube commercial for Peter Pan:

The Man Who Put The Heads On Pez Candy

Who has never seen a Pez head candy dispenser?

They are those tiny plastic colored containers that hold a small brick of candy that are much along the lines of “Sweet-Tarts.” The top of the dispenser has synthetic head that is modeled after a popular character. TV or movies, cartoons or history figures are just a few of the designs these heads have. The odd thing is that the head has to be pulled back for the Pez candy to slip out. It is like the candy comes out of its throat.

The person who came up with this idea is Pez candy company executive Curtis Allina who took his Final Taxi this week at the age of 87.

The first Pez dispenser did not have a head and was initially aimed at adult smokers by looking like a cigarette lighter. Allina wanted to aim it more at children and added Santa Claus, a robot and Mickey Mouse to the top. It soon added more and became a collectible pop-cultural artifact. According to the Pez website the candy company sells tens of thousands of dispensers each year in 80 countries and adds new characters regularly.

Collectors are all over the internet and a few dispensers run as much as thousands of dollars apiece. There even a Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, California. Imagine all your favorite Pez dispensers under one roof.

My first Pez candy dispenser was bought when I went to a local mall and was waiting for my mother at Newberrys. There I saw a Batman Pez. I remember pretending that every time I took a Pez I would have a super power and could then fight the imaginary villains who were invading our backyard.

Through the years I also remember owning Spider-man, Bug Bunny, Fred Flintstone, Thor, Pluto, Darth Vader and Tazmanian Devil. I have older friends who still collect the Nascar Pez and even the Star Trek Pez.

In 2009 I was out shopping with my niece and found that Pez has a collection out for the anniversary of the Wizard of Oz. She now owns a Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman Pez dispenser. Will she keep them and be a collector as well?

What was your favorite Pez dispenser when you were a kid?

Pringles Can Inventor Buried In His Own Package

I remember my mother buying “Pringle’s Newfangled Potato Chips” sometime in the 1976. It was not long before when everyone at my school was bringing in these tube cans of chips that all looked exactly alike. I didn’t like them because of that. Every Pringles looked just like the other and tasted that way too. Where was the diversity?

Pringles are a brand of potato snacks produced by Procter & Gamble. Pringles were first sold in the United States in October of 1968; they were not rolled out across America until the mid-1970s. The name was chosen from a Pringle Avenue in Finneytown, Ohio because it had pleasing sound.

According to the patent , Pringles were invented by Alexander Liepa of Montgomery, Ohio. Science Fiction and Fantasy author Gene Wolfe developed the machine that cooks them. It’s famous logo is a stylized representation of a man with a large moustache and parted bangs.

Pringles are especially known for their packaging invented by Fred Baur, which consists of a tubular can with a foil-coated interior, and a resealable plastic lid. It is Fred Baur who has taken his Final Taxi, but that taxi takes the shape of one of his famous designed cans. For Baur has asked for his ashes to buried in one of the iconic cans.
The man who designed the Pringles can had part of his cremated remains buried in one, his family says.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, was an organic chemist and food storage technician who specialized in research and development and quality control for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co.

Baur filed for a patent for the tubular Pringles container and for the method of packaging the curved, stacked chips in the container in 1966, and it was granted in 1970, P&G archivist Ed Rider said.

The 89 year old inventor’s children said they honored their father’s request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township.

The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to a grandson.

My question is: was Baur buried in a 170g, 163g, 50g, or 23g size can?

Egg McMuffin Creator Bites The Big One

Why is it that kids always want to eat a McDonald’s? I did my best to take them someplace nicer or healthier but I ended up there just to appease them. The only time that I will eat at McDonald’s is during breakfast. I will buy their breakfast burrito or a bacon and egg biscuit but my favorite is the Egg McMuffin.

The McMuffin consists of a slice of Canadian bacon, a grill-cooked egg, and a slice of cheese on an English muffin. (What do they call Canadian bacon in Canada?) This trademarked McDonald’s egg sandwich was invented in 1972 and was important in the history of the company and opened up a whole new area of potential business for McDonald’s, the breakfast trade.

Herb Peterson shows off his famous creation- The Egg McMuffin

The sandwich was invented by Herb Peterson after he had a crazy idea–a breakfast sandwich. Peterson has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 89.

Peterson was very partial to Eggs Benedict and worked on creating something similarfor a morning meal on the go. He took an egg that had been formed in a Teflon circle with the yolk broken, topped with a slice of cheese and grilled Canadian bacon. It was served open-faced on a toasted and buttered English muffin.

The Egg McMuffin made its debut at a restaurant in Santa Barbara that Peterson co-owned with his son, David Peterson.

For a while the Egg McMuffin was served all day but was but back to just breakfast hours, although several countries serve the sandwich around the clock. I wish McDonald’s would start serving it at all hours- much like Jack-in the Box has breakfast at all the time.

The Egg McMuffin is the lowest-calorie breakfast sandwich McDonald’s offers. A complete Egg McMuffin has 300 calories, versus 450 or more for biscuit sandwiches and McGriddles.

Although semiretired, Herb Peterson still visited all six of his stores in the Santa Barbara area until last year when his health began to deteriorate.

Dead Mouse Found In Beer Bottle ??

If a dead mouse in a beer bottle sounds like a plot in a 80’s comedy movie its because it is.

The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew is a 1983 film starring the popular SCTV characters Bob & Doug McKenzie. The McKenzie brothers were a pair of fictional Canadian brothers who hosted “The Great White North”, a sketch which was introduced on SCTV for the show’s third season in 1980. Bob is played by Rick Moranis and Doug is played by Dave Thomas. It created a fad in the 80’s that sparked two comedy records and film. They also had a hit song called “Take Off” which featured fellow Canadian Geddy Lee of the rock group Rush.

In the movie two unemployed brothers, Bob and Doug McKenzie, are in a bind when they give away their father’s beer money, then run out of beer. The brothers place a mouse in a beer bottle in an attempt to get free Elsinore beer from the local beer store, but are told by the no-nonsense clerk—under threat of being shoved into a bottle themselves—to take up the matter at the Elsinore brewery instead. After presenting the evidence to management at Elsinore brewery, the brothers are given jobs on the line inspecting the bottles for mice. They take this opportunity to drink lots of free beer off the line; later, they surprise their parents with a van full of Elsinore products.

So it sounds like a good comedy plot right? Tell that to Mihai Stanescu, 32, a Romanian man who ended up in an emergency hospital with food poisoning after finding a dead mouse in his bottle of beer.

He said: “I simply opened the bottle and took a few gulps. The taste was very strange and when I looked closer I noticed the mouse floating in my beer.”

The man alerted local consumer protection officials who have launched an investigation.

Chief trading standards inspector Mihai Miclaus said: “We will check the whole batch of beer to see if there are other such cases. Then we’ll contact the producer and see who is responsible for this.”

I wonder if Stanescu saw the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie? Strange brew indeed.

Rice-A-Roni Inventor – Vincent DeDomenico

In this day and age of both partners having to work to make ends meet, there are many times when I will have to be the one who comes home and cook the dinner for the night. With children you want to make sure you are giving them something good and balanced, not just something with meat and bread.

I have found my best way to make dinner for the family is plan ahead and decide if we are having chicken, pork, fish or beef. I then build the dinner around that meat item. The hardest part with kids is getting them to eat vegetables. After I get those out of the way I have to decide if we have mashed potatoes, macaroni or rice. I have found that an easy staple that every loves to eat is Rice-A-Roni.

I thank Vincent DeDomenico the inventor of Rice-A-Roni at least twice a week. Imagine my shock when I saw that DeDomenico had taken that Final Taxi at age 92.

In 1895, Vincent’s father, Italian-born immigrant, Domenico DeDomenico, moved to California, where he set up a fresh produce store. His wife, Maria’s family had owned a pasta factory in Salerno, Italy, so in 1912 she persuaded him to set up a similar business in the Mission District of San Francisco. The enterprise became known as “Gragnano Products, Inc.” It became well know for delivering pasta to Italian stores and restaurants in the area.

Vincent DeDomenico was born on September 29, 1915, in San Francisco, California, the fourth of six children. He and his brothers helped in the family business and in 1934 the family changed the name to “Golden Grain Macaroni Company”.

Vincent invented their signature product of Rice-A-Roni in 1958 after watching a sister-in-law mix a can of Swanson’s chicken broth with rice and vermicelli, which was inspired by the pilaf recipe of a neighbor. She served the dish at a family dinner and creating an instant favorite. Vince took that idea and created Rice-A-Roni by adding a dry chicken soup mix to rice and macaroni. It was first introduced in 1958 in the Northwestern United States. Rice-A-Roni was soon found on American tables coast to coast following the television advertising campaign in the 1960s that featured scenes of San Francisco and its cable cars, along with a catchy jingle to promote the easy-to-make dish. The ads also gave the city much publicity with it’s reference to the point of origin, either family-wise or factory-wise, it was called The San Francisco Treat!, which is a registered trademark.

Another reason I think it got so popular was that on many game shows during the period they gave away a years worth of Rice-A-Roni. I know of someone whose mother was on Let’s Make A Deal with Monty Hall. She won two years worth of the stuff and now he will not touch it. She won because she was dressed as some sort of vegetable. (I think it was a turnip.)

After a trip to Italy in 1964, Vince returned with the idea for “Noodle Roni Parmesano”, based on the classic “Noodles Alfredo”. As the product line extended with various shapes and different sauces it was renamed from Noodle-Roni to Pasta-Roni in 1995. Meanwhile, the Quaker Oats Company purchased the Golden Grain Company from the DeDomenico family in 1986.

A year after the sale, Vince bought 21 miles of Southern Pacific Railroad track in the Napa Valley, restored some 1915 Pullman cars and started the Napa Valley Wine Train, which offers elaborate meals as it travels among the vineyards.

Today at just the sight and sound of the cable car bell I can’t help but play that old jingle in my head.

UPDATE:
Dec. 10-2007 —  Mildred DeDomenico, who grew up on a ranch n North Dakota and later married the creator and founder of Rice-A-Roni has taken her Final Taxi just weeks after her husband.

Mrs. DeDomenico she fell from the steps of the Napa Valley Wine Train station and hit her head. She was 87.  DeDomenico became an expert horse rider growing up as the eldest of five girls on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. During World War II, she lived in San Diego, where she worked as a riveter. After the war ended, she moved to San Francisco and met her future husband at the DeDomenico family business, Golden Grain Macaroni Co.

Restauranteur Bob Evans Is In Hog Heaven

How many times have you ever stopped and ate at one of his restaurants?

You have seen them. There is over 590 Bob Evan’s restaurants in 18 states.

The creator of this food chain Bob Evan has cruised down the road taking his Final Taxi at 89.

Evans ventured into the restaurant business in the 1940s, operating a small diner. Evans complained that he could not get good sausage for the restaurant. So with $1,000, a couple of hogs, 40 pounds of black pepper, 50 pounds of sage and other secret ingredients, the farmer opted to make his own, relying on the hog’s best parts as opposed to the scraps commonly used in sausage. He began selling it at the restaurant and mom-and-pop stores, and peddled tubs of it out of the back of his pickup truck.

Evans formed Bob Evans Farms in 1953 with five friends and relatives. The chain emphasizes farm-fresh food, cleanliness and service in a homey atmosphere.

In the 1960s, the first Bob Evans Restaurant opened its doors in Rio Grande, eventually becoming the first in a chain of restaurants that made up the Bob Evans Farms, Inc.

The company also operates 108 Mimi’s Cafe casual restaurants in 19 states, mostly in the West. Its sausage and other products are sold in grocery stores.

Although Evans retired from the company in 1986, he remained actively involved in his community and numerous causes. Evans encouraged local farmers to utilize livestock grazing techniques that are friendlier to the environment and more efficient, and he promoted wildlife preservation. He also used his passion for agriculture to support groups like the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H.

..But Wait, There More: Ronco Declares Bankruptcy

Well- another Father’s day went by and I didn’t get what I had hoped for from my children. I guess I should be happy that I didn’t end up with a Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

For years now we have been bombarded with TV commercials trying to sell you everything from the Veg-O-Matic ( It slices, it dices, it makes 100s of French fries..) to Ginsu knives. We have bought a few items through the years. I had the record vacuum that you place your vinyl LP in and it spins it around and sucks off the dust. ( I ruined my brother’s Mike Oldsfield Tubular Bells record with it.)

I had bought my mother the Armorcote non-stick pan. It worked till the non-stick part came off in a dish she was making.

I even still have a few LPs that were made with the Ronco label. One from the UK has a great collection of New Wave hits.

Well it looks like that famous name of Ronco will be taking it Final Taxi as they have filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills, California.

Ron Popeil, 72, started the Chatsworth, California-based company around 1958 and became a household name by hawking products in late-night television ads. He was known for infomercials selling his products and got his start pitching his father’s Veg-O-Matic manual food processor . During the 1970s, Ron Popeil began developing products on his own to sell through Ronco. Ronco became a household name with its commercials for kitchen products including the Ginsu knife, and Armorcote (and Armorecote II) non-stick saucepans and frying pans. They aired incessantly, especially during off-hour TV viewing times, these commercials became known for their catchphrases such as “…but wait, there’s more!” “50-year guarantee” (later expanded to a “lifetime guarantee”), and “…how much would you pay now?”

Other inventions by Popeil include a machine that scrambles eggs inside the shell, a food dehydrator, an automatic pasta maker and a spray to cover bald spots on people’s heads. Among the company’s best-selling gadgets is the Pocket Fisherman, a compact rod and reel. I think my kids bought my wife the Showtime Rotisserie, a small oven designed for cooking meat and poultry, using Popeil’s latest catch-phrase: “Set it, and forget it.”

I know people who still have the electric shock to tighten up your stomach muscles with a 9 volt battery- or the one that shocks your acne away.

Ronco’s television ads were so familiar to viewers that they were spoofed by several comedians including Dan Aykroyd’s famous 1976 sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” In the sketch, Aykroyd advertises the “Super Bass-O-Matic ’76” by “Rovco,” a blender that

turns a whole fish into a brown liquid, which is then drunk by Laraine Newman, who co-starred in the segment.

“Wow, that’s terrific bass!” she says.

Stand-up comedian Gallagher satirizes Ronco with perhaps his most famous routine involving a large wooden mallet called the “Sledge-o-Matic”, used to pulverize fruit, other food items and still other random objects. Gallagher delivers the routine in a manner similar to Popeil in his infomercials.

According to a court filing, its current assets include inventory of $7.7 million and $3 million in cash and uncollected bills. The company said it generated $45 million of revenue last year. The company has arranged bankruptcy financing, and the restructuring is supported by secured lenders, he said. A hearing to approve the new loan and other court requests has been set for June 19.

So is this the end of Ronco? Somehow I think we may still hear the phase “..but wait, there’s more..”

Cream of Wheat Chef gets gravestone 69 years later.

Frank White- Cream of Wheat Man

I never was a big oatmeal eater when I was a kid. During the cold months mom would cook me Cream of Wheat instead.

I remember staring at the box as this black chef smiled at me every morning. I often wondered if this was a real person or a character much like Tony the Tiger or Capn’ Crunch.

He was REAL!

In fact the man widely believed to be the model for the white-hatted chef whose face has greeted breakfasting Americans for more than a century on Cream of Wheat boxes finally has a grave marker bearing his name just this week.

Frank L. White died in 1938, and until this week, his grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Leslie, Michigan bore only a tiny concrete marker with no name.

On Wednesday, a granite gravestone was placed at his burial site. It bears his name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.

Jesse Lasorda, a family researcher from Lansing, started the campaign to put the marker and etching on White’s grave.

“Everybody deserves a headstone,” Lasorda told the Lansing State Journal. He discovered that White was born about 1867 in Barbados, came to the U.S. in 1875 and became a citizen in 1890.

When White died Feb. 15, 1938, the local paper, the Leslie Local-Republican, described him as a “famous chef” who “posed for an advertisement of a well-known breakfast food.”

White lived in Leslie for about the last 20 years of his life, and the story of his posing for the Cream of Wheat picture was known in the city of 2,000 located between Jackson and Lansing and about 70 miles west of Detroit.

The chef was photographed about 1900 while working in a Chicago restaurant. His name was not recorded. White was a chef, traveled a lot, was about the right age and told neighbors that he was the Cream of Wheat model, the Jackson Citizen Patriot said.

I can’t help but wonder if Nancy Green, the lady who was used for the logo of Aunt Jemima, has a grave stone telling who she was.

Favorite Cereals: My thanks to Pamela Low

I am a lover of sweetened cereal.

Ok- I’ve admitted my addiction. I don’t think there is a class or weekly meeting I can go to for that. Whenever there is a new cereal that comes out, I have to buy it just to see how it tastes. I don’t go for those with mashmellows as the gimmick, that is a cheap way out.

Give me those with new flavors or strange new mascots. Quisp and Freakies were some of my favorites. I also enjoyed Pink Panther Flakes till my mom quit buying them cause it turned my urine a red color. Anyone remember the cereals with Donkey Kong, GI Joe, Strawberry Shortcake, C3P0, ET, Batman, Boo Berry, Ghostbusters or even Cröonchy Stars featuring the Muppets Swedish Chef?

One of the most popular, even today, is Cap’n Crunch. And if you have ever had a bowl or eaten one lately then give a moment of silence to Pamela Low as she has taken her Final Taxi.

Pamela was the one who invented the taste for Cap’n Crunch after much research. The cereal is a sweetened corn and oat breakfast cereal manufactured by Quaker Oats Company. Cap’n Crunch was introduced in 1963 and today is the #1 pre-sweetened kids cereal in the U.S. The mascot of the cereal is a character named Cap’n Crunch, whose full name is Cap’n Horatio Magellan Crunch. The cereal pieces resemble yellow, slightly-flattened boxes, intended to look like treasure chests.

Low worked for the Arthur Little consulting firm in the Boston area when she was asked to help find a flavor for the corn-and-oat cereal. She had studied microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but drew upon a recipe that her own grandmother, Luella Low, used to serve at her home. It was rice with a butter-and-brown sugar sauce that she made. Low remembered that taste and applied it to her work on Cap’n Crunch.

As a flavorist, Low, also tinkered with flavors for snacks such as Peter Paul Almond Joy and Mounds. She also tried to improve the taste of at least one brand of beer.

When people talk bad about her invention, she defended the notion of pre-sweetened cereal. “Give the kids plain cereal and see how much sugar they put on it.”

So Pamela Low help get me started on my cereal kick but what cereal do you remember eating when you were growing up?