Sand in the Gears

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Memo to the Nabisco Food Goliath

January 2nd, 2010 Posted in Business Reviews

Dear Nabisco MegaCorporation,

Once upon a time there was a delicious little cracker called Harvest Grain. This cracker didn’t ask for much, nothing, really, other than to be crispy and nutritious and delectable in Tony’s mouth. Tony and his Harvest Grains were very happy together. Sometimes Tony would spread a tasty cheese spread on his delightful little Harvest Grains, other times he would dip them in the kinds of dips that seem too high-falutin for potato chips, but which just don’t have the chops to make pita bread taste like anything but pillow. Into the pretentious dip his little Harvest Grains would plunge, sharing their scrumptious wheaty sweetness with their reserved partners, throwing an impromptu party for Tony’s appreciative taste buds.

All was well between Tony and his trusty Harvest Grains, until a lumbering Agri-Conglomerate rolled into town and kidnapped the helpless snack. What were you doing to them behind the walls of your ginormous corporate keep, Tony wondered. At first, everything stayed the same. The Harvest Grains were still there on the grocery store shelves, albeit with the red Nabisco triangle in the corner of the box.

The red triangle of doom, that is — the mark of an unholy trinity of marketing, efficiency, and brand consolidation that is a threat to all true cracker lovers.

The changes were gradual, but portentous. Tony noticed that his Harvest Grains were no longer spry and playful. They were becoming more rigid, more reserved, thinner. Slowly the wanton scattering of tasty wheat bits disappeared from the top of the cracker. Soon there was no top of the cracker, nor a bottom, just a two-sided, non-descript bleached wheat abomination masquerading as the formerly delicious Harvest Grains, much like when Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis replaced Newman and Redford in “The Sting II.”

Never heard of “The Sting II,” Nabisco Agri-Colossus? My point exactly.

You got rid of the name, too. They were rightly called Harvest Grains, and then they were Wheat Thin Harvest Grains, and then they were 5-Grain Fiber Selects, and now they are just plain Wheat Thins. Do you know why I bought Harvest Grains all those years, Nabisco Mega-Food Agriplex? Because they weren’t Wheat Thins. Wheat Thins, with their thin, starved bodies, lying hopeless and lethargic in their cardboard crypts, grateful for a spot of air and their first glimpse of sunshine when you rip open the plastic. Wheat Thins, that have to be encased in plastic because they soak up all moisture within a ten-yard radius, that crack when you bite them, forming saliva-impervious shards that require a half-gallon of milk to go down. Wheat Thins, with their bleached flour and their degermed yellow corn meal.

I don’t even know what degermed yellow corn meal is, Nabisco Agronomic Titan, but I don’t like the sound of it. Not one bit. And don’t get me started on the high fructose corn syrup. And why in the world do you have both cornstarch and modified cornstarch in there? What kind of schizo cracker are you peddling, Nabisco Food Mammoth?

You may fool the rest of America, Nabisco Comestibles Leviathan, but not this pilgrim. I’d sooner eat dried turnip peels than consume your dessicated, razor-thin, salted, over-sugared, bleached, degermed, flat as dirt assassin crackers.

So release my Harvest Grains. I know you’ve got them locked up somewhere, maybe torturing them to release the secrets of their goldeny grainy goodness, perhaps waterboarding them in hopes they’ll tell you how to make a cracker that doesn’t turn moist earth to scorched sand wherever someone tosses it from the window.

The rest of America may not care, Nabisco Hegemonic Food Juggernaut, but hear me when I say to you:

Let my crackers go.