Apparently I pre-ordered the “Casablanca” Blu-Ray when it was announced. Fine. I haven’t seen the movie in years. I own the DVD, and I don’t think I watched that when it came out in Pristine Ultra Perfect Never Possibly Could Be Better DVD-O-Vision; it was enough to own it, waiting for the moment when I’d say okay, now.

“Now” doesn’t come very often, because I write late, it’s 12:37 AM, and I think “well I’ll finish that ‘Hoarders’ and watch some trailers and call it a night. But I have to watch this. For one thing, it’s my favorite movie. I think. Perhaps I’ve just been trained by society to say that, because it’s an acceptable, if obvious, choice. If you say “Star Wars” you’re an idiot. If you say “Open City” by Rossellini you’re a snob. If you say “Easy Rider” you’re a moron who only smokes weed on weekends but has a collection of bongs in the rec room, lined up like trophies. If you say “Casablanca,” though, you get a pass. It may be pure studio product, but all the stars aligned on that one, and it’s a damned perfect film.

My other favorite is “Citizen Kane,” so you can see what a hopeless cliche I am. Anyway, the movie didn’t arrive in a thin blue case. It came in an enormous box with a book, a reproduction of a French poster, and coasters. Yes. Drink coasters. In a faux-leather box embossed with the “Casablanca” title. I had no idea. It’s all quite lavish and impressive, but I just want the bits. Really: it’s like saying oh sure why not and pre-ordering “Gone with the Wind” on Blu-Ray, and the box includes a pound of soil from the South.

This is not right. Not at all. They’ve remade the Quaker Oats Guy. Did you know he had a name? It’s Larry. That’s what “insiders” called him, anyway - a term with a faint dismissive whiff. Larry wasn't keeping up with the times, and since no one can possibly identify with anything that doesn't look modern, voila:



In the original version, he looks like an authentic Old-Time Quaker Dude. In the new version he looks like Phil Hartman in a wig.

Of course, the original incarnation was somewhat creepier; this is from an old cookbook I have. Or had, before I sent it back into the ever-flowing stream of antique-store ephemera.




This was intended to reassure consumer and sell product. Hmm.

From roughly the same era: he doesn’t see particularly enthused by this.


Never got along well with children; found them noisome and unruly and redolent of the sin that brought them forth, but of course they were God’s children, so one must be grateful for them, and model the virtues they will one day grow up to embody.

So what’s wrong with the new Quaker guy? I approve the change in fonts and tightening up of the design. Note how the hair’s trimmed but the patterns the same, the light on the shoulder is the same - but you see more of them. The cravat’s the same. The face is the same, but thinner, more vital. He’s still from The Past . . . but he’s no longer a Quaker.

How do I know? Because Quakers looked like the old one! We know that because we stared at the box during childhood. But somehow that precise amount of extra chin added piety and happiness in equal doses. Go back and look at the two. The new guy looks like the faker-quaker who schemed to cheat the other one of his farm.

PS: It’s an insult to call him Larry, since the original model for the classic ruddy-cheeked smiling version was a fellow named Harry, a colleague of Coca-Cola artist Haddon Sundblom. That's right: the man who painted the classic Quaker Oats guy was the same man who painted all those Coke Santas, and defined the character for the entire culture.

PPS: didn't know this until I wiki'd Haddon for the link, but his last commercial work? A Christmas cover for Playboy, in 1972. A Playmate in Santa garb.

Anyway. We weren’t a Quaker Oats family. We were Cream of Wheaters:



It’s an odd term. “Would you like some wheat for breakfast sir?” “Yes, but can you cream it?” “Certainly.”

This fellow was the only Black person in our house the entire time I lived there. His name? Rastus. Yes. The stereotypical name for the stereotypical Black man. In early ads, he wrote in yassuh-massa dialect:


Good Lord.

That’s from the teens, I believe. Afew years earlier, he was helping out around the house. Same expression, but the tie's outside the coat.



Then he was relegated to the bottom of the ads, which concerned other things, like the misadventures of L’il Abner. But at least they gave him the dignity of better copy.



Who was he? Frank White, or so the story has decided. He was a chef, and was hired to pose for a picture for five dollars - about $130 today. I hope the story's true. There wasn't any Larry, but there was a Frank - and perhaps that's why year after year, he's still the same. Don't fix Frank. Frank doesn't need fixing.



The hand position needs fixing, but that's for the next makeover. The one where they take the stroke off the latters and drop the gradient and go back to a a slab font.



And here we rest for the week. There's a few new Main Streets, if you'll head up and click.Have a grand weekend, and I'll see you around.
















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