Monday, October 1, 2018

Sweeping Changes

As a bit of a postscript to from one of my other blogs, and to kick off National Chimney Safety Week, I present a new friend I made on the road. 


The giant Chimney Sweep Statue greets people on I-135 between Wichita and McPherson, Kansas. He's a striking site that comes out of nowhere while you're in the middle of nowhere. His roguish smile and Dick Van Dyke-esque demeanor conveys a sense of old school chimney sweepery that is sadly missing in our modern world of dirty smoke stacks.

However, as many people do, he started out in a different industry before his career change:


Happy Chef is/was a chain of restaurants in the Midwest that each had Happy Chef statues out front greeting hungry travelers with a smile and a spoon. They also had a button you could push to hear the Happy Chef give you, what I assume was, a happy message.

Sadly most chefs are gone but some have been re-purposed like our friend here. If you're one the road in the middle of Kansas, stop by and say "hi." 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mr. Peanut's Wild Ride

Previously: Shell Stop


The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile isn't the only giant food shaped novelty car on the highway.  Mr. Peanut has his own honey roasted ride too!   This is the second version of Planter's Nutmobile and has been on tour for years now.  If you haven't seen it in person, you can spot it every year in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A few years ago I was luckily enough to see this beauty in person and I even got to ride in it!  Here's the video I shot:

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Crave and the Fold

If you remember the old days of Mad Magazine (and/or possibly the current run) you may remember the last page always had the "fold-in" gag.  It was a picture that took on new meaning when you folded the page to reveal a new image hidden in the drawing.

I'm not sure that's a great explanation, but come on, you know what it is.  Probably because you've also seen it in ads for some of your favorite products.  In fact, our pals Count Chocula and Frankenberry used the format to announce the return of an old friend:

Like most of the old Mad fold-ins, you can probably guess what the gag is without folding it.  But who wants to live in a world where you don't fold things?  Let's fold!  Fold hard!

Just like in Mad, the edges never seem to line up perfectly but maybe that's part of the charm.  As you probably guessed, this was an add announcing one of the many returns of Yummy Mummy!  He was the next best thing when Frute Brute wasn't available.

Several brands wanted in on the fold-in action and you can find several of them in old comic books.  As a bonus, here's one from Chips Ahoy:


You can probably see where this one is going but let's take a look at it after the foldening:


If you guessed it was going to be something cookie related, you were right!  It kind of looks like some kind of primitive Pac-Man/cookie hybrid puking out brown lines or maybe shouting.  I want to give Pac-Cookie a name but I'm afraid I'll grow too attached.

Anyhoo, I'll post more fold-ins if/when I find any more.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Next Fry Day

Previously:  Flash Fried

The time has come to tag along on another adventure with an American Icon.  But this time, not just one Colonel will do (although I guess, technically, there were two Colonels last time).  It's time for the Colonel Corps!


The next issue of the KFC/DC combo meal takes it to the next level with a tour of the DC Multiverse and a collection of Colonels that rival any previous Crisis on Various Earths.  Our story begins with the Colonel of Earth-3, Colonel Sunder, finger licking his wounds after his last confrontation with Colonel Sanders and the Flash (both from Earth-1) when he receives a mysterious visitor:


Meanwhile on Earth-1, our Colonel is also recovering from the previous confrontation.  Apparently many of his employees fell under the sweetly seductive spell of Sunder and are now not working up to the Colonel's standards.

You see, Colonel Sanders is all about doing things the hard way whereas Sunder is all about the shortcut.  So maybe the employees aren't cooking the chicken all the way through?  Salmonella is not your friend on any Earth (except maybe Bizarro World).


It's worth noting that the last issue was a team-up between the Colonel and the Flash (with a little assist from Green Lantern) but this adventure is definitely Colonel-centric.  So if you were yearning for more Colonel Sanders in your life, then this adventure is definitely for you.

While getting his house in order, Earth-1 Colonel is overcome by a mental attack from an unknown source.  He wakes up to the sight of the Colonel and the Flash from Earth-11:


After a little exposition we learn that all the Colonels have had their memories wiped.  They each only retain 1 of the 11 secret herbs and spices that make up the KFC recipe.  The solution was then obvious: hop on the Cosmic Treadmill and go from Earth to Earth collecting Colonels and therefore the herb and spice knowledge necessary to recreate the Secret Recipe!

The Earths/Colonels they found include (but are not limited to):


Hardcase Harlan from Earth-19 (the so-called "SteamPunk" Earth)


Koln-El from Earth-22 (the Kingdom Come Earth)


Kolonel from Earth 51 (the "Kamandi" Earth)...which seems to have some upsetting connotations since he is clearly a chicken that fries and serves other chickens for his patrons.  But that's a story for another time.

Several other Colonels from several other Earths (including one from the 31st Century who cooked for the Legion of Super Heroes and the Bizarro Colonel) hopped on board for the cause.  They eventually track down Colonel Sunder and his mysterious ally who turns out to be...Colonel Grodd!!


So now Sunder and Grodd must face the combined might of the Colonel Corps: an elite team of southern fried superheroes representing the 11 herbs and spices of justice!  (Also, don't forget, the Flash of Earth-11 is there too):


It doesn't take long for our heroes to take out the bad guys.  They even repel a psychic assault from Grodd who tempts them to take the easy way out...but the easy way doesn't get that chicken fried, does it?


So once again, evil is defeated and lunch is served.  We have to assume that all the Colonels were returned to their rightful Earths and Sunder and Grodd were incarcerated, never again to take away delicious meals from society.  The End...or is it?!?!?



Sunday, May 27, 2018

Kool and the Gang

Previously:

Fish Story  - -  Flash Fried  - -  About a Boy  - -  Burn Notice   - -  Quik Story


Oh yeah!  As we've seen, back in the glory days, it was all too common for commercial mascots to have their own comic books.  Usually free, always promotional, they served to remind youngsters of the coolness factor that was hopefully associated with brand name items.

It was natural fit when Kool-Aid Man starred in his own series.  A guy who was primarily known for throwing himself threw brick walls surely had an adventure or two up his sleeve.  Kool-Aid Man doesn't have sleeves you say?  Well, normally I'd agree with you.


We begin in the Flavor Lab at the Wacky Warehouse as Kool-Aid Man is on the cusp of a new fruity sensation.  Everything's coming up Kool-Aid and things couldn't be better. But before the gang could come up with a name for the new flavor tragedy strikes.


The villainously dehydrating Scorch nabs the secret formula and the chase begins!  What follows is a multi-page chase (and this whole comic doesn't have that many pages to begin with) sequence as Kool-Aid Man and the kids give the reader an impromptu tour of the Warehouse while they chase down the fiery fiend.


As often happens, a magic doorway materializes.  And with the good guys closing in, Scorch had no choice but to escape through the passageway containing the face of his greatest foe into the unknown.  But the question isn't where does the door lead...but when


Yep, they went back in time.  These aren't "grown in a lab for a theme park" dinosaurs.  These are the honest to goodness real deals.  Scorch, with his head start, is easily able to lose the gang in the jungle while not accidentally burning the entire place to cinders and thus destroying the space/time continuum...so that's good news.

Meanwhile Kool-Aid Man (who has traded his lab coat for a pith helmet) and the kids make a new friend.  PurpleSaurus Rex makes his grand debut as a friend in need.  The old boy (girl?) is stuck in the mud and the good guys are happy to help him out.


Sure they lost the bad guy but they made a new friend.  And P-Rex is such a total bro that he's happy to help track down Scorch and enact retribution on the villain.  And with the help of the big guy it doesn't take the gang long to find their prey.


Apparently when you're a great big giant dinosaur it's not too hard to get what you want.  You just have to threaten to eat people.  Well, the bluff paid off and K-Man got back his formula for the unnamed new flavor.  Time to head home and dole out an appropriate punishment to the recipe-stealing nogoodnik.

  
Looks like he'll be chilling out in the Ice Age for an indeterminate amount of time.  (By the way, the time portal door seems to lead to series of tubes in which one can slide from time period to time period.  They also include clearly labeled trap doors controlled by the malevolent god that is Kool-Aid Man).  So the only item of business left on the table is to name the new flavor.


And that my friends is the secret origin story of PurpleSaurus Rex.  He went on to promote the grape/lemonade hybrid and some say he still haunts these mountains to this day...


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Charm in Excess

Previously: Roll Call

There's an inherent fear that many of us have that one day, after "getting some thinking done," we'll reach for the toilet paper and and there won't be enough!  Not nearly enough!!  When thoughts like that creep into your head, here's a mental picture (and literal picture) to keep in mind:


What we have here is the World's Largest Roll of Toilet Paper.  It's on display at the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum in Branson, MO and seems to be sponsored by Charmin.  Revel in its 4,000 pound plentitude!


Charmin went all out on the display including huge iPod-esque interactive touch screens with tons of toilet paper related related trivia, quizzes and Ripley's comics.  Not all, but many of your toilet paper related information cravings can be satisfied by wiping swiping through the screens.

Here you can vote on whether you're the kind of person that prefers the toilet paper to hang over the roll or if you're a horrible, horrible person.


The display as includes several entries in the Cheap Chic Toilet Paper Wedding Dress contest from who-knows-when.  The dresses look as good as any other wedding attire I've seen on blushing brides from the past few weddings I attended at a fraction of the cost. 

Of course, like any other Ripley's museum, there are tons of other oddities and curiosities from around the world, but none quite so functional in that special time of need as a good old huge roll of TP.




Friday, March 16, 2018

Munch Madness

Bracket time!  Little Debbie has released a March Madness style bracket of their delicious snack cakes and the voting is now live on their Twitter account.  Here's how it worked out for me:


You can get a blank set of brackets HERE.  Go Peanut Clusters!!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Got Time For a Quik Story?

 Previously:


 Some team-ups are inevitable.   They just seem like a perfectly natural pairing that the universe itself could not slow down the natural synergy between a like minded pair.  But some team-ups...are a little more head scratchingly arbitrary.  They may not seem like a natural fit and yet great things are accomplished.  This brings us to the 1987 comic book "Superman Meets the Quik Bunny"!


The story begins with a quick tease of Superman running afoul of a member of the Flash's rogue's gallery.  The Weather Wizard is using his magic weather wand to make things go straight up bonkers in Metropolis.

Meanwhile, we get a "quik" introduction to the members of the "Quik Qlub" as they finish building their tree house while the Quik Bunny supervises.


Of course they celebrate with a round of chocolate milks and in the process we get a good look inside the tree house they built.  It seems to have a surprising amount of sophisticated computer equipment.  But before we can wonder how or why, we get a quik expedited introduction of each of the Qlub members and their specialties:


Seems like some or all of this information might become relevant at some point.  You may notice in the back of that panel that Superman is on the news on their high tech homemade tree house entertainment system.

Well, the gang sees the trouble going on in Metropolis and decided that four kids and a chocolate craving rabbit were exactly what the situation needed.  So they unleashed the first of many of the secrets they built into their tree house:


Yes, the tree house these kids just built is also a helicopter.  It's almost enough to make you forget about the talking bunny...and possibly Superman.  But the Man of Steel, the Quik Bunny and the Quik Qlub kids finally all converge in Metropolis in time for the kids to assume they saved Superman and for Superman to tell them that they didn't.


One of the aspects of the comic is puzzles and brain teasers that pop up every couple of pages.  They're a part of the story and are meant for the reader as well as the Qlub kids to solve.  The answers are typically the location for where the Weather Wizard has gone.  That's why one of the kids is so cocky to Supes in the last panel.

Each puzzle plays into one of the aforementioned strengths/interests of the club members so even if the reader isn't able (or willing) to decipher the clues, the Chocolate Milk Brigade will take care of it.  And that's how they found out the Weather Wizard next target was...


This comic is surprisingly long with multiple altercations in multiple locations.  To save time let's just say they face both puzzles and the Weather Wizard in Washington D.C. and at the pyramids of Egypt before having a final confrontation at the Great Wall of China.  (Also the Qlub House turned into a blimp and boat and all kinds of other stuff.)


In addition to being able to change into various vehicles and containing state of the art computer equipment, the Quik Qlub tree house also has the ability to manufacture a facsimile of the Quik Bunny to use as a decoy to trick weather controlling villains.

And it's just that easy.  After the clean up and dropping off the Weather Wizard at the local loony bin, the only thing left to do is enjoy some of that sweet, sweet Nestle Quik flavored chocolate milk.


 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Roll Call


In the old days Charmin had good ol' Mr. Whipple starring in their commercials.  The serial squeezer was eventually retired and years later Charmin started using (unnamed?) cartoon bears to sell their squeezably soft product.

And it's the "Wiping Bear Family" who are offering loyal Charmin customers a chance to hold the extra large toilet papers rolls steadily in place with a free bathroom accessory that you didn't even realize you needed:


So, of course, I had to immediately have one. The roll extender was available (and still is!) for free on their website.  Now normally, when I fill out a form like this online in order to get some free sample or other goodie, I immediately try to forget about it so the long wait isn't so soul crushing and I eventually forget all about it.  That way if and when I finally get my goodie it's a complete surprise.  But the big surprise in this situation is how quickly my roll extender arrived.


It only took a couple of days to get this beauty and, believe me, I was WAY too excited when it arrived.  Luckily, Charmin had this type of reaction in mind and included installation instructions that would make Ikea envious:


Easy enough, even for a non-handy man.  So now my workshop bathroom has an added toilet paper roll capacity.  But so far I've only been able to try out the extender with a normal sized roll:


But this is just the start.  I plan to put it to the test with the biggest, "sqeezabliest" roll of toilet paper that mankind has invented.  I haven't found it yet but it's good to have goals...


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wal-Man


If you're reading this then, odds are, you've probably shopped at Walmart at least once.  Opinions vary on the mega-chain from brand loyalty for its one-stop shopping to hatred for its competition-crushing ubiquitous nature.  Your mileage may vary depending on how often you need to buy motor oil, pet food and milk at the same time, but there's no denying the company's impact on the country.

The man behind the machine was Sam Walton.  He founded his first store in 1962 and with his great success came the tributes.  If you know where to look you can find Wal-Monuments on your next road trip.


In his hometown of Kingfisher, OK, they wave the Walton flag hard.  This sign announces the town's status as his birthplace as soon as you arrive.  Not too far from there is the town's Walmart (every town's gotta have one, right?).  And there you'll find the real tribute:


Sam's eight foot tall disembodied torso and his faithful dog (and dog food namesake) "Ol' Roy" were erected for the grand opening of the town's store in 2007 and were sculpted by a local artist.  Sam's story may have started here but to see the monuments to his professional accomplishments you need to head one state over.


The founding of Walmart got its own Topp's collectible trading card (above) and the refurbished Walton's Five and Dime (his first store) can be visited on the town square in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas as a part of the Walmart Museum.


The museum is a shrine to the origins of the retail giant and houses store memorabilia like bags, buttons, aprons, early branded merchandise and other pieces of ephemera.  But most of the exhibits are dedicated to the life of Walton and they collect his personal belongings. 

It's an odd memorial for someone who lived so recently.  You might expect too see a life size diorama of an Egyptian tomb or a neanderthal's cave at a natural history museum but this place goes so far as to recreate Walton's office and display it behind glass:


On one hand, I'm glad they resisted the urge to put a mannequin "Sam" in the chair.  But on the other hand, I'm disappointing they didn't go to the expense of building an animatronic "Sam" to push papers around on his desk and occasionally look up to tell his tale to visitors. 

I sometimes wonder what it would look like if my work area was one day put on display for posterity.  Would historians know which order to pile the scraps of paper I no longer need on my desk?  Would they line up my Oscar Mayer Wiener Whistles just right?  I guess history will decide.

The other big piece on display of Sam's is his old 1979 Ford F150:


Apparently he liked to take long drives with the dogs on hunting trips (his Texas hunting license is also on display at the museum) in the truck.  They say that if you look closely at the steering wheel you can see Ol' Roy's teeth marks. 

It's an exhaustive remembrance of a man who made it slightly cheaper and easier for many people to buy tube socks and, like it or not, a big piece of Americana.