Holy Quap!

I'm back from the Food Lion, where the combined mass of the shoppers assembled for this weekend's blizzard-cum-Super Bowl festivities was apparently so great that it ripped open a hole in the fabric of time.

Yes, I'm holding a box of Quisp. A staple of my childhood, this corn-and-oats cereal benefited from both a satisfyingly sugary flavor and some terrific Jay Ward animation for its commercials. (In the latter, Quisp's voice was provided by the legendary Daws Butler, who also did the voices for Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, and Cap'n Crunch, among others.)  Quaker Oats first released Quisp (and its counterpart, Quake) in 1965, so I was right smack in its demographic sweet spot, and as soon as I learned to recognize brand names, I demanded it regularly, preferring its flying saucer shapes to the grommet-shaped nuggets in Quake.

In the early 70s, however, trouble started brewing. A nationwide poll to determine which character was more popular gave Quisp the victory--not surprising, as a propeller-headed alien is bound to appeal to kids more than a big lummox in a hard hat--but as a result of this popularity contest, poor Quake was given a Trotsky-like dismissal from power and sent into exile in the mines whence he had sprung. (Quake emerged later in a new incarnation, working with a kangaroo named Simon as the mascots for my all-time favorite ceral, Orange Quangaroos, but he was clearly only a shell of himself.)

This was obviously a sign of unrest in Quakerland. And sure enough, by the mid-70s both Quisp and Quake had vanished from the aisles of my local grocery store. I could still catch a little bit of the Q&Q sensation by eating Cap'n Crunch, which used basically the same recipe, but the tactile elements of cereal--known in the industry as "mouth feel"--cannot be ignored. The Cap'n just didn't feel right in my mouth... and there's a sentence that's sure to be taken out of context by one of my future reviewers.

There have been occasional revivals of Quisp over the years, but they've always been in limited, temporary distribution, and I never saw any evidence of them at a grocery store near me. Thus, for the last thirty-odd years, I've had to be satisfied with the memories of planting myself before our old black-and-white set, filling my bowl with Quisp, and listening to Daws Butler, Don Messick, Mel Blanc, and the rest of the voiceover pros as my fillings began to vibrate from the sugar rush. Rich memories they were, but only memories.

Until today, when I came around the corner of the Fod Kitty's cereal aisle and was confronted by Ol' Propeller-Head himself, grinning maniacally on his blue box as though the last three decades had never happened. Naturally I bought a box--hey, there's snow on the way--and am still all but fondling it as I sit here at the dining room table.

But before any attempt to reconnect with my childhood eating experience, I went through my childhood reading experience, carefully examining every bit of text on the box, and I found this important note from the side panel's Q&A with Quisp:

Is it true you're back to stay?

Only if earthlings want me to. In fact, it's getting tough to find a place to park space haulers carrying such vast quantities of Quisp cereal.

How do I get Quisp?

Now Quisp cereal is available to all who desire it on this planet! For more information, please visit: www.quakeroats.com/quisp

All right readers, you have your assignment: buy some Quisp! Let's keep this stuff on the shelves!

And if we do, and Quaker sees the profit potential, maybe they might even--do I dare give voice to such a thought?--bring back Orange Quangaroos.


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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on February 4, 2010 4:49 PM.

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