Sand in the Gears

« Home »

A Public Letter to the Quaker Oats Company

August 14th, 2002 Posted in Business Reviews, Greatest Hits

Dear Quaker Oats Company;

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try your new Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats. As one might expect, they felt in my mouth much the way I imagine elephant snot would feel. Why would anyone deliberately eat elephant snot, you ask? Well, exactly.

You see, I didn’t set out with the intention of eating this demon barf you call “oatmeal,” but the frat boys in your marketing department apparently thought it would be cute to make the package look almost identical to the original Quaker Oats package — same color scheme, same smiling white Quaker dude on the cover, gleeful, no doubt, that he is dead and buried and immune to your perversion of his healthy wholesome breakfast food. I imagine your marketing people lurk about the breakfast aisle in the grocery store, snickering when they see unsuspecting consumers looking for a good source of fiber pick up this unholy gruel by mistake.

And it seems your little imps have been hard at work, because they’ve also devised an Aunt Jemima pancake mix that requires only water. Once again, the only way to know you are selecting this wretched powder rather than Aunt Jemima’s down home traditional mix is to scrutinize the package carefully for the chirpy “Just Add Water!” exclamation. Let me tell you, my friends, not even Ponce de Leon’s Spring of Immortality could bring this stuff to life. Just add water. Right. Just pour it down your gullet dry, and get the painful experience over with. If Aunt Jemima were still around she’d give you all a good old country butt-whuppin with her big butter churn, for soiling her good name with these chewy flesh-colored frisbees.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight. When the Quaker Oats Company sits around brainstorming how to increase market share, it chooses, rather than expanding consumption among normal people, to pursue people who are too busy to crack a freaking egg when making their pancakes. People who, in order to save four minutes, are willing to eat obliterated oat bits rather than whole oats. People, in short, who get their breakfast in a cup from Starbucks. So no wonder you disguise these twisted inventions — you must have realized that the only way to sell your evil food-process spawn is to foist it onto trusting consumers of a once fine family of traditional Quaker Oats Company products.

Well, no more, Quaker Oats Company. You can keep your tortured oats and your freakish pancake powder, because this is one customer who is on to your cruel game. Do you know what it’s like to look into the face of your heretofore innocent toddler, and to discover a betrayed expression as he lets gray gruel ooze out of the corners of his mouth? “Why, Daddy?” he asked. “Why?”

Can you sleep at night, Quaker Oats Company? I can’t. Not anymore.

Thanks to you, Quaker Oats Company, my son now carefully tests everything I cook for him before eating it, as if I were the untrustworthy one. Trust is a hard thing to win back, you know. You have driven a shard into the fabric of my family, Quaker Oats Company. You have done a disservice to the ready-made packaged food industry. What’s more, you have done a disservice to America, which is only as strong as our faith in the large faceless automated multi-national corporations that have made us great.

To sum up, I believe that guy from the movie “Back to the Future” best captures my sentiments: Nice going, butt-heads.