11/27/2010

item 1 >>> Intriguing headline in our local paper: Prehistoric Mammals Tracked. I’m thinking, this is old, I mean old old news, right? It’s an Associated Press story, date-lined Washington, about how large mammals evolved after the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. The information in it was been around at least since I was a kid. I guess the point is they’re just starting to figure out why some mammals got so big. They mention the largest land mammal ever, the Indricotherium. Hooooooold on there, buddy boy! When I went to school it was the mighty Baluchitherium, named after the Baluchistan area of Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iran where the fossils were first discovered. Turns out, different name for the same creature, also called a Paraceratherium. It was of the rhinoceros-family, but without a horn. Its size is shown here relative to man. Big boy, no? Died off about 23 million years ago.

item 2 >>> New name for an old thing. Well, new to me…Woody Allen was guest-hosting the Tonight Show. His movie “Bananas” was just out so this would have been 1971. It’s on YouTube, cool to watch. But at one point he makes a reference to cheating back in school, and what he calls a “gyp sheet.” I guess most commonly called today a “cheat sheet.” We called it a “crib sheet.” Cheating was cribbing…at least that kind…

item 3 >>> One of my favorite movies, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” was on Turner Classic Movies the other night. If you watched it, and there were some scenes you were unfamiliar with, there’s a reason for that. In 2002, 14 minutes worth of deleted scenes were returned for the DVD release. And if some of the lines didn’t seem in sync, that’s because some audio had to be re-recorded by Clink Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and a voice-double for the late Lee Van Cleef. My favorite line: Tuco to Bill Carson: “Don’t die till later…”

item 4 >>> The core of the Chex cereal line was in place in the 1950s…Wheat Chex and Rice Chex in 1950, Corn Chex in 1958. Those 3 are still around of course, and they spawned many varieties, most no longer made. One of the most obvious things to do to Chex was to add sugar to it, and that’s been tired off and on since 1966. That year Ralston-Purina introduced a cereal called Mr. Waffles, in “regular” and banana-flavored versions. You never see this one in lists of Chex-thru-the-years, but it had the same shape, just a kid-friendlier name. Or so they thought. The banana variety went away, but the basic one was re-named Sugar Frosted Chex around 1968. Then, as Sugar Chex in 1971, Caspar the Friendly Ghost came on board and on the package. One last psychedelic push as Super Sugar Chex in 1974, and they threw in the towel. By that time, we were starting to pay attention to nutrition, and every brand of cereal got analyzed. SSC was 29% sugar. Yum.

item 5 >>> They didn’t try again till 1991, with Frosted Rice Chex Juniors, mini-sized in a glitzy box, again aimed at kids. Around this time Ralston-Purina sold off their Chex line to General Mills. Oddly enough, they still made Chex-type cereals, but for sale to supermarket chains as their generic or “store” version of Chex. So if you wanted real Chex, you bought the cheaper brand. Who knew? But Big G cleaned up the line-up, and the Juniors were out, only to reappear 10 years later as Frosted Mini-Chex. And they’re still around today, now called Frosted Chex, “New Bigger Chex Squares! Same Great Frosting!”

item 6 >>> Back in Item 4, I said that Wheat Chex dated from 1950, but that’s not really true. When Rice Chex was introduced, Wheat Chex was also introduced as a new name for old cereal, Shredded Ralston, which dated back to 1936. Ralston was a hot cereal, like a wheat version of oatmeal, and enormously popular. Shredded Ralston was sort of like tiny little shredded wheat pillows, and so too was Wheat Chex in 1950. By the mid-50s, it was more a flat little square, the standard Chex shape ever since. Chex Mix dates back to the 50s too, originally made with Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, peanuts and pretzel sticks. Oh yeah, and margarine not butter, if you want to be completely authentic.

item 7 >>> As portrayed in the movie “The Road to Wellville,” many of the foods we take for granted today, breakfast cereals, graham crackers, even peanut butter, were developed around the beginning of the 20th century by so-called “health” advocates, of varying degrees of sanity. One of the looniest was Webster Edgerley, who stared the Ralstonism movement, which in its organization sounds something like the Scientology of today. (There were 100 “levels,” and you moved up 5 levels with every book you bought!) Ralston stood for Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen, and Nature. Edgerley joined forces with the Purina Food Company in 1900 to market his whole-wheat cereal. And the rest is history.

item 8 >>> William Danforth, one of the founders of the Purina Food Company of St. Louis, worked in his father’s store as a youth. There was a large family named Brown, and the mother would made their clothing from the same large bolts of cloth. Thus, for several years the whole brood wore red-and-white-checked clothing. Everyone knew when a Brown walked by, and he remember this for the logo of Purina’s Checkerboard Square empire…

item 9 >>> In the 1940s, there was a fad for nonsense songs…”Mairzy Doats,” “Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo), and the like. One of the most popular, and catchiest to boot, was “The Hut Sut Song,” of which dozens of versions were recorded, the first supposedly by Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights. It went like this…Hut Sut Rawlson on the rilerah, and a brawla brawla soo-it…Now the Rawlson is a Swedish town…the rilerah is a stream…the brawla is the boy and girl…the Hut Sut is their dream. This was only mock-Swedish rigamarole, and I can remembering singing it when very young, no doubt from my parents. Some people said Rawlson as “Ralston” which was understandable, but I always sang it as “Rawson.” Some of the versions I’ve listened to sound like that, others clearly have an L between the W and S, but wait…there’s more…

item 10 >>> As Hut Sut Fever swept the nation in 1941, reports began to surface of an old unpublished Mississippi River folk-song with these lyrics: Hot Shot Dawson on a river boat…with his brawlin’ brawlin’ sweetie…Hot Shot is an Irish Pug…The river boat is the Queen…His brawlin’ lass is Bridget Cass…and Hot Shot is her dream. This strange coincidence was written up in Time Magazine July 28, 1941, but they could get neither confirmation nor denial from the trio of singers who wrote the song. As the article said, they were “silent as soo-it, mum as the rilerah.”

Wicked Ballsy


Think these really work? Worth 15¢ to find out? Must have, they were around for a while…

shameless pluggers…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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