Classic Kid-Kibble from Yesteryear! by Jonathan Kieran

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CLASSIC KID-KIBBLE from YESTERYEAR by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: BOO BERRY CRUNCH CEREAL (General Mills)

Wimpy Casper's dangerous "gangster" uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

Wimpy Casper’s dangerous “gangster” uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: As one of a trilogy of “monster-themed” cereals introduced by General Mills in the mid-1970s (along with Frankenberry and Count Chocula) Boo Berry Crunch was touted by its makers as “the first cereal to ever taste like blueberries.”

I have some good friends who operate one of those organic fruit farms here in Northern California. These fine people wouldn’t let so much as one luvin’ spoonful of Boo Berry Crunch pass their sustainable lips, but if they did, they would assure the world that Boo Berry Crunch did not taste remotely like blueberries. As I recall, Boo Berry Crunch tasted like crystallized drops of sugary summer sky that came to earth when a flying unicorn was strangled with the blue ribbon of a rainbow after a thunderstorm. Yeah, that’s what they tasted like. That and a slight nuance of Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo. I always wondered if there might have been a connection.

In any case, kids certainly overlooked any faint chemical undertones that might’ve been detectable in Boo Berry Crunch because, like any classic “gimmick cereal” of the 1980s, it contained enough high fructose corn syrup to keep you bouncing off the walls, swinging on the jungle-gym and running the streets like a fevered Tasmanian Devil until dusk. Cereals like Boo Berry Crunch were, however, the bane of conscientious mothers and their wheedling children. A mother with two brain cells to rub together wouldn’t let you go near the stuff, no matter how much you pleaded for “just one box,” dancing around in your duck-feet jammies.

“Those are junk cereals!” my mother would declare. “That stuff is bad for you. Here, have some of this Cream of Wheat.”

“I hate Cream of Wheat! You gotta put half the sugar-bowl on it to get it down.”

“Cream of Wheat is wholesome!” Mother would parry. “It’ll make you grow up big and strong.”

“I don’t wanna be big and strong. I want to taste that sweet Boo Berry goodness on my tongue. It’s fortified with two essential vitamins … and iron!”

“Oh, the company just puts that on the box because the government makes them do it. There’s no vitamins in that garbage. And you don’t need to eat cereals promoted by ghosts. Ghosts are the spirits of the dead. Boo Berry Crunch is nothing but necromancy in a brightly colored box. Do you know what that means?”

“Yeah, yeah. Deuteronomy says it’s the stuff Satan feeds his demon-spawn down in Hell. But can’t we just get one box? As a treat?”

“NO! Here, try a bowl of these nice Grape Nuts.”

“Mommy, no! ANYTHING but Grape Nuts! My gums will hemorrhage!”

It never worked, our pleas for Boo Berry Crunch, especially when Mother was in a spiritual phase. Sure, Boo Berry Crunch was probably “of the devil,” just like she claimed, but we didn’t fear hellfire all that much at age six and neither, apparently, did our next door neighbor, Barbra Smith. Barbra and her derelict boyfriend, Hank, were nice enough folks. Sometimes, on summer weekends, we were even allowed to play with their kids or camp out overnight in their yard while Barb and Hank knocked back whiskey sours and staggered across the patio to the sound of old Beach Boys records. The next morning, Barbara Smith never felt much like going through the complicated series of motions required to produce a pan of Cream of Wheat. That’s because she could barely stand. When we stormed her bedroom begging for breakfast, she’d throw a few pillows or maybe a pack of cigarettes at us and pull the covers over her head, groaning about the light in the room.

“It burns! It burns!” she would rasp.

Then she’d tell us to look under the kitchen sink and get the hell out of her hair, already.

Barbra Smith’s cupboards were stocked with every form of sugar-saturated kid kibble that a much sought-after rural hairdresser’s money could buy. Boo Berry Crunch was always prominently featured and we would end-up stuffing ourselves to the brink of diabetic comas until Barb and Hank finally drifted out of their bedroom around noon and started rummaging in the fridge for Bloody Mary fixings. By that time, we didn’t care about Saturday morning Adult Invasions. Our bellies were full and our minds were tweaking on Bugs Bunny reruns. My experience of forbidden Devil Cereals –along with the bliss of carefree childhood– was complete.

Thank God for alcoholic neighborhood moms.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Mothers (even drunken ones, apparently) got wise with the advent of the Information Super-Highway and thus all of the brain-rotting, tooth-emulsifying treats like Boo Berry Crunch swiftly went the way of the Twinkie. May they rest in pieces.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Part of the appeal of Boo Berry Crunch stemmed from the fact that it was one of the popular junk cereals fronted by a monster. Few kids in my day could resist the imprecations of a monster that promised a reliable sugar-high. Boo Berry Crunch had an extra advantage because my friends and I couldn’t stand that mealy-mouthed wimpy wonder, Casper the Friendly Ghost. “Boo” of Boo Berry Crunch, on the other hand, looked like he could’ve been Casper’s seedy, criminal uncle who earned a living as a supernatural bookie at some Ghostly Greyhound race track, or maybe as an inner-city loan shark. Boo was villainous and kind of “Peter Lorre henchman” creepy and that made you feel like a rule-breaking rebel, a real “bad boy” when you tore into a bowl of the good stuff Boo was pushing. What red-blooded American boy could have resisted that? Behold the very first General Mills commercial for Boo Berry Crunch cereal … in all of its Boo Berry Splendor.
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder.

The things a star will do when denture ads just won’t pay the rent! #nostalgia

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CAMPY CARTOON VILLAIN-OF-THE-WEEK by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: “Benita Bizarre” (The Bugaloos, 1970-1971, NBC)

"I swear ... it was this or a commercial for denture tablets. Don't judge me, beeotches!"

“I swear to God … it was this or a commercial for denture tablets. Don’t judge me, beeotches!”

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Martha Raye

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Denture commercials were clearly not paying enough cold hard $$$ to keep an aging Hollywood train-wreck in the style to which she had become accustomed in the 1970s. All Martha Raye needed back then was enough nickel to buy Tanqueray, some ciggies and maybe a new speedo for the occasional escort, but Polident Green must’ve been giving Martha a case of the Poor-House Heebie Jeebies with the $125.00 they were probably offering to shell-out so she’d show America how to scour their big yellow falsies in a cup. I bet Martha even had to soak her own fake choppers in her super chlorinated flesh-melting backyard pool overnight in Bel Air. Polident Green kept their budget LEAN … and probably didn’t even give their National Spokeswoman a lifetime supply of tablets that could sizzle the rotting bits of gristle from betwixt the cracks of her Take-Out Teefs.

dentures

Drastic measures were required and Martha Raye, being a rough-and-tumble survivor of the Big Studio System of the 1940s, took the most drastic measures ever known in the world of entertainment: She got fitted for a costume on one of Sid & Marty Krofft’s abominable kiddie-show productions. Yes, Martha Raye hopped right into economy-class on the Bullet Train to Embarrassment-Land when she took the role of “Benita Bizarre” on the Bugaloos — a masterful piece of Pure Televised Glory in which several British “fairies” in bellbottoms and psychedelic tee-shirts dwelt in a magical forest, seeking a record company dumb enough to pay them actual dollars for the Offensive Musical Slop-Sounds emanating from their obscene orifices.

bugaloos

Martha Ray’s character, Benita, was sort of a cartoon-land cross between Phyllis Diller and Pia Zadora: a repulsive, untalented bag who cracked jokes, wore low-rent versions of the ridiculous crap Lady Gaga later became famous for and surrounded herself with sleazy morons who convinced her she was the greatest singer the world had ever known. Martha Raye’s shrewd essay of the “Benita Bizarre” role featured a lot of disorientation: staggering; stumbling; mugging and mumbling, as well as gratuitous displays of Martha’s spindly legs sprawled-out like some diseased chicken’s getaway-sticks beneath skirts trimmed with ostrich feathers. The plot of every Bugaloos episode was the same: Benita was jealous of the Bugaloos (who always looked as if they hadn’t bathed or brushed their gnarly English teeth in weeks) and she plotted ways to thwart their dreams of recording hit after unspeakable hit, employing henchmen named “Tweeter” and “RatFink” in her Evil Campaign.

I’d like to have been a fly-on-the-wall the day Martha Raye’s Greyhound racetrack bookie agent (probably a guy named “Morty”) first presented her with the Bugaloos script. You know the meeting took place in Martha’s bedroom and you know she knocked back a whole tumbler of gin and then threw the glass at poor Morty, who wasn’t nearly swift enough to duck in time to avoid lacerations to the forehead. Then, after Martha fished her dentures out of the tingly Polident bubbles on the bedside table and inserted her fangs, she let Morty really have it:

mrtha in bedMARTHA RAYE: “What’s this two-bit hippy fairy garbage you’re asking me to play, huh Morty? Saturday morning kiddie shows about Bugs? Bugs? This is all you can do for the great Martha Raye? I’m supposed to play in a show about British insects? I can barely keep the roaches out of this cracker-box on the salary those Polident bastards are offering to give me, Morty!

bookieMORTY: “But Martha, these Krofft boys have a great track record with the public, and this Benita Bizarre person … well, she could be the start of a huge comeback for you. Sump’n big. America’s starting to get a little tired of looking at the inside of your mug in them falsie-scrubbing ads, I gotta tell ya, Martha. Focus groups have been saying that your tongue looks furry and some people even claim they can smell your halitosis through the television screen.”

martha madMARTHA RAYE: “That’s outrageous, Morty! I make sure to suck on five or six of those wintergreen Polident tabs before every shoot. Damn things burn like battery acid and now I got a big infected hole in the roof of my mouth, but those white tabs get rid of the gin-breath in five minutes flat. I swear, Morty! Besides, people can’t smell anything through a television screen.”

bookieMORTY: “You know that and I know that, Martha, but what was it Louis B. Mayer used to tell you? ‘Perception is everything,’ especially in the entertainment racket.”

martha aghastMARTHA RAYE: “God, Morty, you’re right. He did say that, right after I fell off the soundstage and passed out in a pool of my own puke while filming Four Jills in a Jeep. Oh, that was one helluva week, I can tell you, Morty. Say, what are they gonna pay for this Boogerloos gig?”

bookieMORTY: “It’s Buggerloos, honey, and now we’re getting to the good part. They pay $175 an episode, which is twenty-five clams more than you’re making for them denture spots, and best of all you get to keep the entire wardrobe from each show. They also say you can smoke and drink all you want on the set.”

martha askingMARTHA RAYE: “I can?!”

bookieMORTY: “Yes. In fact, the Krofft boys told me they’d actually prefer it if you came in as shitfaced as possible.”

martha drunkMARTHA RAYE: “Say, that sounds like a sweet deal, Morty!”

bookieMORTY: “What can I say, Sugar? They want the Martha Raye that all of America has come to know and loathe …er … love. Yeah.”

mrtha in bedMARTHA RAYE: “I’m in, Morty. Here. Help me out of this puddle of bile around the pillows and kick those empty Seagram’s bottles over to the door. Consuela will pick ’em up when she comes next month to clean. I’m going down to NBC to sign that deal on the dotted line. Today! Wait’ll those wiseguys over at Polident get a load of me on this hot new show. We’ll be able to milk at least another C-note, per commercial, out of those stingy turds. Bring my limo around while I hunt for a clean turban, Morty. We’ve got a deal to strike.”

bookieMORTY: “I … uh … I had to pawn the limo last week, Martha. Your dog hasn’t doin’ so good down to the track and you owed a lot of dough. I asked the Polident people to maybe give you a little advance and, boy oh boy, their wallets suddenly got tighter than a nun’s ass.”

mrtha in bedMARTHA: “You don’t say. A nun’s ass, eh? Well, screw that. I’ll get the last laugh with those high and mighty bigshots when Benita Bizarre becomes the most beloved character among the children of the United States of America. Don’t just stand there, Morty. Call me a cab and pour me a fresh one while we wait! Hey … have you seen my upper set lying around anywhere? Damn that Polident!”
____________

The Bugaloos ran for one excruciating season on NBC (17 episodes) but found a cult-following in syndicated reruns. Martha Raye (a tirelessly dedicated –even decorated– performer for World War II Troops and genuinely beloved comic icon from Hollywood’s Golden Era who did later make bank schlepping denture tabs) lived out the rest of her tempestuous personal life in Bel Air until 1994, seven times married and (sadly) legless. She generated some controversy toward the end of her days by marrying a bisexual man three decades her junior, suing Bette Midler for allegedly “stealing her life story” and disowning her only child, Melodye, to leave a $3 Million legacy to boy-toy/husband, Mark Harris, who has since made the rounds of shock-programs like The Howard Stern Show to regale people with personal details from the life of Benita Bizarre. Sounds like the work of British fairies with a grudge. Still, you just know those Brits are all wearing dentures now and scrubbing them with Polident, so maybe Martha had the last laugh, after all. One can only dream.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: The Intro of Infamy …
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If you’re bored and don’t have any Japanese eyeballs to lick, hop on over to Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a Like!

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

When it came to rotting teeth in the ’80s, Sugar Bear left no child behind! #nostalgia #kidkibble

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CLASSIC KID KIBBLE of YESTERYEAR! by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S HONOREE: SUGAR CRISP (Post Cereals 1949-2013)

SupSugCrisp

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Sugar Crisp was a cereal of sugar-saturated puffed wheat-pellets introduced by Post Cereals in 1949 to the future enrichment and summer lake-house construction opportunities of dentists across the United States. There is perhaps no more definitive example of classic child-kibble than this popular product, a bowl of which could send any child into fits of spastic glucose-mania formidable enough to cause the most seasoned of mothers to beat their breasts in despair and wail at the heavens for mercy.

"You brats just eat those sugary pops of puffed wheat and get out of my sight for the day! God in Heaven, I'm going to start drinking again!"

“You brats just eat those sugary pops of puffed wheat and get out of my sight for the day! God in Heaven, I’m going to start drinking again!”

When I was a child, Sugar Crisp was always present in our cupboards because word had not yet filtered down to Mother that this cereal was like a Trojan Horse full of “live” ammunition just waiting to transform her children into unstoppable sugar-terrorists. Mother was loathe to provide us with the more colorful, overtly junk-jammed cereals we begged her to buy – cereals like Lucky Charms, with multi-colored “marshmallow” bits that had the suspicious texture and taste of high-fructose Styrofoam. Part of Sugar Crisp’s stealth-like ability to infiltrate our breakfast nook was its visually plain appearance. After all, what could be more mundane than a drab old piece of wheat that’s been aerated or “puffed” or whatever the heck they did to inflate that stuff?

Sometimes, however, Mother would make a “mistake” and purchase the sugarless and taste-bud confounding horror that was Quaker Oats’ Puffed Wheat. That stuff had the texture and gastronomic appeal of petrified bellybutton-lint, at least for kids. Mother may have believed herself to be pretty savvy, sneaking a bit of nutrition into our mornings via some “impostor cereal,” but children are not easily fooled when it comes to junk food. We would screech like frantic little vampires exposed to the agony of sunlight: “Mommy, Mommy! Something’s wrong with this cereal! They forgot to soak it in the syrup-vat down at the Sugar Bear factory! Quick — fetch us a box of Fruit Loops or Apple Jacks before we turn to dust!”

You weren't eating proper sugar-blasted kiddie cereal in the late '70s and early '80s if you didn't have a set of THESE to brag about on the playground!

You weren’t eating proper sugar-blasted kiddie cereal in the late ’70s and early ’80s if you didn’t have a set of THESE to brag about on the playground!

The Sugar Crisp brand had the added advantage of being fronted by a sort of laid-back, crooning cartoon-bear in a big blue varsity sweater. “Sugar Bear” sang his theme song (“Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp …”) as if he were Perry Como sidling up to a big microphone during one of his Christmas Specials and no one was ever going to question the intentions of a cartoon bear that had the good sense and decency to imitate Perry Como.

Unfortunately, the proverbial “jig” was up for Sugar Crisp in the 1980s when Oprah or some other pesky gadfly started urging mothers to read the ingredient labels on food packages and thereby ruined the joys of childhood hyperactivity forever. Sugar Crisp tried to sneak under the radar of opprobrium by changing its name to Golden Crisp (gold being, presumably, a far more appealing “flavor” for kids to ingest than sugar) and even testing-out a zesty spinoff called Super Orange Sugar Crisp. This experiment proved disastrous when a beleaguered dentist named Ira Shannon discovered in 1975 that the orange balls of joy in Super Orange Sugar Crisp were in fact composed of 71% pure sugar. As late as 2008, consumer advocates were informing the public that Golden Crisp remained one of the two most sugar-loaded cereal brands on the market. The other Torchbearer of Shame in that duo was Kellogg’s seizure-of-glee-inducing Honey Smacks.

The offensive “Sugar” terminology was soon dropped from all boxes of dangerous puffed wheat permanently in the late 1980s, except in Canada, where the agony engendered by widespread rotting of molars is apparently neutralized by the ever-friendly and sometimes annoyingly buoyant nature of that country’s citizens (Except, of course, in Quebec. No one is buoyant in Quebec except Celine Dion and she’s crazy. I hear Celine came from a Cookie Crisp family. Explains a lot.)

DEFINITIVE QUALITY: Sugar Crisp was super-sweet. It was crunchy. It was puffy. You appreciated the hip personality of the bear mascot. You could eat two bowls and the masticated puffs of wheat would puff-up even more in your stomach, giving you that incomparable “full feeling” as the rest of your system struggled to process and then dispatch overwhelming amounts of sugar to various organs and body parts that would enable you to work either your Mother’s last nerve or the backyard swing-set non-stop until lunch-time.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: You can’t get it at all, anymore, but when you could get it, you couldn’t get enough … just like Sugar Bear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TquvGUkFTLs

NO, I’m not talking about THIS “Sugar Bear,” although this one could well have started down the fateful road to High Fructose Degeneracy due to the excessive consumption of Today’s Featured Kid-Kibble. You’ll have to investigate that possibility on your own …

NO, I’m not talking about THIS “Sugar Bear,” although this one could well have started down the fateful road to High Fructose Degeneracy due to the excessive consumption of Today’s Featured Kid-Kibble. You’ll have to investigate that possibility on your own …

LAMENTABLE LEGACY: Too much Sugar Crisp apparently leads to frightening nicknames in parts of the country none of us ever really needed to know about and produces offspring that could be named after junky cereals themselves …

______________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Remember Boo Berry Crunch cereal? Sugar-coated necromancy in a box. #popculture #nostalgia #drunkmoms

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CLASSIC KID-KIBBLE from YESTERYEAR by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: BOO BERRY CRUNCH CEREAL (General Mills)

Wimpy Casper's dangerous "gangster" uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

Wimpy Casper’s dangerous “gangster” uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: As one of a trilogy of “monster-themed” cereals introduced by General Mills in the mid-1970s (along with Frankenberry and Count Chocula) Boo Berry Crunch was touted by its makers as “the first cereal to ever taste like blueberries.”

I have some good friends who operate one of those organic fruit farms here in Northern California. These fine people wouldn’t let so much as one luvin’ spoonful of Boo Berry Crunch pass their sustainable lips, but if they did, they would assure the world that Boo Berry Crunch did not taste remotely like blueberries. As I recall, Boo Berry Crunch tasted like crystallized drops of sugary summer sky that came to earth when a flying unicorn was strangled with the blue ribbon of a rainbow after a thunderstorm. Yeah, that’s what they tasted like. That and a slight nuance of Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo. I always wondered if there might have been a connection.

In any case, kids certainly overlooked any faint chemical undertones that might’ve been detectable in Boo Berry Crunch because, like any classic “gimmick cereal” of the early 1980s, it contained enough high fructose corn syrup to keep you bouncing off the walls, swinging on the jungle-gym and running the streets like a fevered Tasmanian Devil until dusk. Cereals like Boo Berry Crunch were, however, the bane of conscientious mothers and their wheedling children. A mother with two brain cells to rub together wouldn’t let you go near the stuff, no matter how much you pleaded for “just one box,” dancing around in your duck-feet jammies.

“Those are junk cereals!” my mother would declare. “That stuff is bad for you. Here, have some of this Cream of Wheat.”

“I hate Cream of Wheat! You gotta put half the sugar-bowl on it to get it down.”

“Cream of Wheat is wholesome!” Mother would parry. “It’ll make you grow up big and strong.”

“I don’t wanna be big and strong. I want to taste that sweet Boo Berry goodness on my tongue. It’s fortified with two essential vitamins … and iron!”

“Oh, the company just puts that on the box because the government makes them do it. There’s no vitamins in that garbage. And you don’t need to eat cereals promoted by ghosts. Ghosts are the spirits of the dead. Boo Berry Crunch is nothing but necromancy in a brightly colored box. Do you know what that means?”

“Yeah, yeah. Deuteronomy says it’s the stuff Satan feeds his demon-spawn down in Hell. But can’t we just get one box? As a treat?”

“NO! Here, try a bowl of these nice Grape Nuts.”

“Mommy, no! ANYTHING but Grape Nuts! My gums will hemorrhage!”

It never worked, our pleas for Boo Berry Crunch, especially when Mother was in a spiritual phase. Sure, Boo Berry Crunch was probably “of the devil,” just like she claimed, but we didn’t fear hellfire all that much at age six and neither, apparently, did our next door neighbor, Barbra Smith. Barbra and her derelict boyfriend, Hank, were nice enough folks. Sometimes, on summer weekends, we were even allowed to play with their kids or camp out overnight in their yard while Barb and Hank knocked back whiskey sours and staggered across the patio to the sound of old Beach Boys records. The next morning, Barbara Smith never felt much like going through the complicated series of motions required to produce a pan of Cream of Wheat. That’s because she could barely stand. When we stormed her bedroom begging for breakfast, she’d throw a few pillows or maybe a pack of cigarettes at us and pull the covers over her head, groaning about the light in the room.

“It burns! It burns!” she would rasp.

Then she’d tell us to look under the kitchen sink and get the hell out of her hair, already.

Barbra Smith’s cupboards were stocked with every form of sugar-saturated kid kibble that a much sought-after rural hairdresser’s money could buy. Boo Berry Crunch was always prominently featured and we would end-up stuffing ourselves to the brink of diabetic comas until Barb and Hank finally drifted out of their bedroom around noon and started rummaging in the fridge for Bloody Mary fixings. By that time, we didn’t care about Saturday morning Adult Invasions. Our bellies were full and our minds were tweaking on Bugs Bunny reruns. My experience of forbidden Devil Cereals –along with the bliss of carefree childhood– was complete.

Thank God for alcoholic neighborhood moms.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Mothers (even drunken ones, apparently) got wise with the advent of the Information Super-Highway and thus all of the brain-rotting, tooth-emulsifying treats like Boo Berry Crunch swiftly went the way of the Twinkie. May they rest in pieces.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Part of the appeal of Boo Berry Crunch stemmed from the fact that it was one of the popular junk cereals fronted by a monster. Few kids in my day could resist the imprecations of a monster that promised a reliable sugar-high. Boo Berry Crunch had an extra advantage because my friends and I couldn’t stand that mealy-mouthed wimpy wonder, Casper the Friendly Ghost. “Boo” of Boo Berry Crunch, on the other hand, looked like he could’ve been Casper’s seedy, criminal uncle who earned a living as a supernatural bookie at some Ghostly Greyhound race track, or maybe as an inner-city loan shark. Boo was villainous and kind of “Peter Lorre henchman” creepy and that made you feel like a rule-breaking rebel, a real “bad boy” when you tore into a bowl of the good stuff Boo was pushing. What red-blooded American boy could have resisted that? Behold the very first General Mills commercial for Boo Berry Crunch cereal … in all of its Boo Berry Splendor.
__________________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads