Retroville: Where’s the Cap’n?

For years, sea captain Horatio Magellan Crunch has mystified the public by somehow making his eyebrows float on his hat and sailing the seas aboard the good ship the S.S. Guppy with his crew of 4 children: Alfie, Brunhilde, Dave and Carlyle, as well as canine first mate Seadog (insert your own ‘sea-man’ joke here) encountering various exotic weirdos and just generally being Quaker Oats Company’s cereal pitchman extraordinaire. (The papers stating which naval regiment Crunch actually served under seemed to have mysteriously “vanished” somewhere around the Cape of Good Hope, according to rumors. Well, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it.)

Then, one fateful day in 1987, the good Cap’n just…disappeared. Since no corporation should ever pass an opportunity to turn crisis into profit, Cap’n Crunch’s going missing sparked a huge promotional campaign and a tie-in sweepstakes. It also gave birth to this, a music video (???) written by Rick Derringer, the man responsible for the Hulk Hogan ditty “I Am a Real American”.

Wow. Just wow. I wish I had some crackers right now, so all of this 1980’s cheese wouldn’t be going to waste.


Aaaaanyway, it was eventually revealed that the Cap’n was in outer space, doing battle with some alien race known as the Soggies, sentient globs of wet milk under the leadership of…THE SOGMASTER!
If this galactic despot were to succeed, then BREAKFAST WOULD BE DOOMED.
“Dooming breakfast?? Man, and people say I come up with some lame schemes. Hey, Krang! You gotta hear this! This shmuck wants to ruin breakfast! What a tool, am I right??”
Eventually, the Soggy threat was defeated, partially due to the heroic efforts of the Cap’n, but mostly by heavy rain. The Soggy army simply dissipated and their plans went down the drain, quite literally, while the Sogmaster himself simply rusted.
“That’s what you get for buying that cheap knockoff armor from Sharper Image. Next time, buy Stark. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it!”
The whole “Cap’n Crunch went into space to save the planet and breakfast (chuckle!) from evil aliens” story makes for some good PR, but there was actually another reason for the Cap’n’s shrouded journey: he also saw this as an opportunity to ‘lose’ his young crew on some uncharted asteroid, so’s he could get Child Labor Services off his back. Apparently, it’s OK to employ children to work in your tobacco fields, but it’s not cool to hire kids under 10 to tote your bails, travel the uncharted seas and do battle with hairy, skeevy pirates who don’t wear shoes.
Hmmm, I think I’ve seen their pictures on a milk carton recently.

Retroville: TMNT Cereal

There are signs that let one know when they’ve truly arrived in the entertainment industry. Your franchise gets a big budgeted movie. A Saturday morning TV series. A line of clothing with your name on it. However, you know for certain that you’ve made your mark on Hollywood when your franchise comes out with it’s own cheesy breakfast cereal. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are no exception to this honor. Yes, the Ninja Turtles had their own breakfast cereal. We now present you with the glory that is the first TMNT cereal ad:

Is it just me, or did Michelangelo sound kind of stoned in that? Anyway, just a minor inquiry: Did the Shredder have some sort of grand master plan that involved the possession of this one particular box of cereal? Or was he just doing this to screw with the Turtles? Honestly, I don’t know what’s more embarrassing for Shredder; the fact that he’s been reduced to stealing breakfast cereal from a couple of kids, or the fact that he completely failed at accomplishing this task. This is right up there with the time when Shredder opened up a pizza restaurant and operated it for several weeks, possibly months, in the hopes that the Turtles would show up as customers. There’s a little thing called food poisoning. You might want to look into that.

At least the Ninja Turtles managed to escape from this mostly unscathed. This ad was hardly the most embarrassing career move for them. The following bit comes to mind:

I’m curious as to why an amphibious creature needs to travel by rowboat anyway? And what was that weird thing you were doing with your arms there, Leo?

“Listen, things were a little tight and I needed pizza money! The studio emptied a dump truck full of money in front of my door! I’m not made of stone! Stop looking at me!!!!!”

Retroville: Freakies

Welcome to another installment of Retroville, where we take on commercials and advertising characters. Today we’ll be chronicling the mascots of Freakies cereal.

Freakies was a brand of sweetened breakfast cereal produced by Ralston and sold in the United States. The cereal was Ralston’s first major venture into the presweetened RTE (Ready-to-Eat) cereal market. The Freakies were made up of seven creatures named Hamhose, Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Goody-Goody, Snorkeldorf and the leader BossMoss. Why was BossMoss in charge the Freakies? Why, because he spoke with a John Wayne sound-alike voice, of course. And also because he beat the last guy who tried to challenge his authority to death with an electric mace, skinned him in front of everyone and now drinks root beer from his empty hollowed out skull. Bottom line: don’t screw with BossMoss.
The seven Freakies went in search of the legendary Freakies Tree which grew the Freakies cereal. They found the Tree, realized the legend was true, and promptly took up residence in the Tree which then became the backdrop for all the TV spots and package back stories. A Cocoa version of the cereal called “Cocoa Freakies” was available in 1973 and a fruit version titled “Fruity Freakies” was available in 1975-1976. Here’s an ad:
Freakies cereal entered the marketplace in 1972 and was taken off the shelves in 1976, when they were forcibly evicted from their tree by the thugs from Keebler, who wanted the tree as their latest base to expand their ever-growing cookie empire.
“We were completely in the right to kick out the Freakies. You see, Mother Nature hates freaks. Besides, they were making this tree smell like feet!”

The Freakies bummed around for a bit in obscurity after that, only resurfacing briefly for some odd gigs. Snorkeldorf started jazz noodling with Wynton Marselis’ band for a time, but an unfortunate backstage incident involving pineapples (don’t ask) prevented him joining the band full time. A new TV series starring the tribe entitled Freakies Universe was planned, but for some reason the show’s initials (F.U.) didn’t test well with audiences. BossMoss and Grumble strong-armed their way into a Hollywood press agency and hired a publicist (it’s amazing what a ton of complaining and a set of brass knuckles can accomplish), and In 1987, a new Freakies cereal was made, depicting the characters as aliens from another planet. (The publicist was a huge sci-fi nut who thought that anything involving aliens would sell.) Boss Moss and Grumble kept their original names, but the other characters were given new identities, and were renamed Hugger, Sweetie, Tooter and Hotdog.

“Hot Dog”?? That’s a stupid name for an alien!”
“Yeah, real stupid!”
Unfortunately, this move proved to be a War of the Worlds kind of deal; the campaign resulted in the Freakies getting captured and detained in Area 51, where they’re said to be residing to this day.
However, this may not be the end of the Freakies story. Rumor has it that Gargle has been studying and learning how to use the alien technology at Roswell (maybe he is a smart guy, after all), and there have been stories of a particular text message circulating around the web, reading:
“Oh, crap.”
Karma’s a bitch sometimes.