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August 14, 2002
A Public Letter to the Quaker Oats Company

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.

Posted by Woodlief on August 14, 2002 at 10:53 AM


My wife has pointed out that the quick oats are great in oatmeal choclate chip cookies. Be sure to not spread this around as I'm sure Quaker would find a way to nullify this happy mistake.

Posted by: Wisch at August 14, 2002 11:44 AM

Great rant. My wife also fell victim to the cruel "quick-oats" hoax recently, so we are slogging through bad breakfasts. We have tried mixing with regular oats in the past, but that instant junk is tough to swallow.
The only problem with shunning Quaker is that they are about the only ones supplying "regular" oats, unless you go to a health-food or specialty store and pay double for designer oats. Generic oats just aren't as good as Quaker's. That Quaker oats guy looks so trustworthy on the label too ...

Posted by: MarcV at August 14, 2002 11:59 AM


Posted by: Brent at August 14, 2002 10:12 PM

Well, this is fun! I was reading online while - you guessed it - cooking my morning oats, and here I find your perfect rant! For me, it's regular oats, always, 4 min in the microwave with lots of raisins and pecans, mmmmmm....! The individual serving oats in the packets are the worst slime, the quick stuff not as bad but not fun for breakfast. If you find yourself stuck with quick oats, make a few batches of Chocolate No-Bake cookies - perfect with quick oats, and your kids (but not your hips) will love you too. Then you can move along to the regular oats with a clear conscience. No-bakes are also excellent for those classroom parties and bake sales, and they freeze well, so you're in business if you just can't bring yourself to throw away a $4 box of hot cereal makin's. And never trust a Quaker - remember Nixon! (ok, kidding.)

Posted by: susanna at August 15, 2002 7:45 AM

Banana date oatmeal cookies

1 c. vegetable shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
8 oz. chopped dates
1/4 c. water
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 banana
3 c. oats (quick oats OK)

Put dates and water in a bowl to soak. Use a fork to mash the banana in a bowl. Mix sugars and shortening. Add eggs, vanilla, banana, and dates. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together. Mix all together. Add oats and mix well. Make tablespoon or a little larger cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes on an insulated cookie sheet.

Posted by: Fred Boness at August 15, 2002 11:22 AM

Isn't Quaker the company that, a few years back, bought out Snapple, and then stopped advertising it on Rush Limbaugh's program? Geniuses!

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at August 15, 2002 4:58 PM

Quaker did the same thing to grits a few years ago. To make it more convenient, I think they said "microwaveable" they ruined their grits. Luckily, there are other grit brands available.

Posted by: Sandy at August 16, 2002 9:53 AM

My mother had a solution for this type of problem. It was not exactly lying. If she brought a new food product home that tasted like elephant snot, she took it back to the store, presented it to the manager, and with a sick look on her face stated,"I think this has been on the shelf too long".

Posted by: llanaw at August 18, 2002 10:51 AM

Well, it's true that the just-add-water and microwaveable varieties of grits and pancake mix from Quaker are not nearly as good as the others. They do, however, sell their normal types, which one can easily buy.

There are apparently people who don't mind the difference, or who really want to save the couple of minutes that it takes to crack an egg or to cook grits correctly. People have the right to be that way, however.

Posted by: John Thacker at August 23, 2002 1:41 AM