Tales of Rock – 10 Fascinating Band Name Origin Stories

Picking a band name is no easy feat, as it will have an enormous impact on how you are perceived by the world. There are many fantastic band names out there, but of course there are also some pretty terrible ones too. But regardless of whether the name is good or bad, it is always fascinating to hear how they came about. There are some excellent band name origin stories for many of the biggest acts of all time, including these 10 iconic groups.

10. Nickelback

While they are not the most popular band (anymore) and constantly the butt of jokes, the origin of Nickleback’s name is quite interesting. The name came from bassist Mike Kroeger (brother of frontman Chad), who was working at Starbucks when the band formed. With prices at $2.95 and $3.95, he would constantly be saying here’s your nickel back” to customers after each transaction. When they were trying to come up with a name, the phrase “nickel back” stuck in his head and he suggested it to his brother. Chad thought it was perfect, and Nickelback was born. Despite the endless abuse that they receive, Nickelback is one of the most successful rock acts of the 2000s, with “How You Remind Me” being the best-selling rock song of the decade. They have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, making them one of the most successful Canadian groups ever.

9. Queens of the Stone Age

Originally called Gamma Ray, founder Josh Homme was forced to change the name after a German power metal band of the same name threatened to sue. He settled on the unusual name Queens of the Stone Age, as this is how producer Chris Goss described his previous band Kyuss a few years earlier. On why he chose the name, Homme stated “Kings would be too macho. The Kings of the Stone Age wear armor and have axes and wrestle. The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age’s girlfriends when they wrestle, and also it was a name given to us by Chris Goss. He gave us the name Queens of the Stone Age. Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way everyone’s happy and it’s more of a party. Kings of the Stone Age is too lopsided.”

8. Pearl Jam

There are a few suggestions as to the origin of legendary rock band Pearl Jam’s name, but they originally went under the name Mookie Blaylock. As any NBA fan will tell you, Mookie Blaylock is a former all-star who spent 13 years in the league. The band was fan of Blaylock, but they were forced to change their name due to trademark concerns. As a result, they named their hugely popular album Ten after Blaylock’s playing number (he was also a fan of the band). In an early interview, Eddie Vedder stated that they settled on Pearl Jam as a reference to his great grandmother, Pearl, who was married to a Native American and they had a special recipe for peyote-laced jam. This has also been dismissed, however, and some claim that “Jam” came from when they attended a Neil Young concert where he extended his songs with lengthy jams.

7. 30 Seconds to Mars

After playing their first concerts under a few different names, Jared Leto and his brother Shannon settled on the name 30 Seconds to Mars, which was taken from a manuscript titled Argus Apocraphex. Written by an ex-professor of Harvard, this was the title of one of the subsections. It discusses the exponential growth of technology that relates to humans and saying that we are literally 30 seconds to Mars. For Leto, he found that the phrase perfectly encapsulated their music and he explained it as a metaphor for the future and how it “works on several different levels, a phrase that is lyrical, suggestive, cinematic, and filled with immediacy.” The band went on to be immensely successful, but in these early days, Jared Leto would not allow the use of his Hollywood fame as a promotional tool for the band.

6. Led Zeppelin

Often said to be the greatest and most influential band of all time, hard-rocking British act Led Zeppelin first formed in London in 1968. They first formed under the name the New Yardbirds (in reference to Jimmy Page’s previous band, The Yardbirds), but they soon restyled themselves as Led Zeppelin. Now one of the most famous band names ever, the story goes that Keith Moon and John Entwistle were discussing the prospect of starting a supergroup with themselves, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, and they stated it would “go down like a lead zeppelin” (“lead balloon is a British idiom for an ill-conceived idea, with a zeppelin essentially being a much bigger balloon and therefore a worse idea). The band decided to intentionally change “lead” to “led” so that it would be correctly pronounced. It is now an iconic name for one of the greatest bands of all time.

5. The Velvet Underground

An enormously influential group that formed in 1965, the band name actually comes from an S&M book about a secret sexual subculture during the early ’60s, written by journalist Michael Leigh in 1963. It reports on Paraphilia in the USA, which is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, and individuals. The New York-based band decided to use the title of the book as their band name after Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison’s friend, a filmmaker called Tony Conrad, found a copy of the book lying in the street in New York. Morrison was a fan of the name as it reminded him of underground cinema, and it stuck. It is somewhat fitting, as the band achieved little success when they were active and could be considered “underground,” but are now deemed immensely important and influential.

4. Steely Dan

Steely Dan may seem like a fairly innocuous band name for the jazz-rock act founded by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen who were hugely popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but the story behind their band name is cheekier than most people realize. As fans of Beat Generation literature, the band named themselves after “Steely Dan III from Yokohama,” which is a sex toy mentioned in the novel Naked Lunch, written by William S. Burroughs in 1959. Not quite as innocent as most thought, Steely Dan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001. The band split up but reunited in 1993 and has toured consistently since.

3. 311

Nudity and rock and roll seem to go hand in hand, and this is exactly how popular American rock act 311 got their name. Formed in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1988 by Nick Hexum, Jim Watson, Aaron Wills, and Chad Sexton, the band name came from when Watson was arrested for streaking when he and some friends went skinny dipping in a public pool. He was arrested and handcuffed before being taken home to his parents, all completely naked. He was issued with a citation for code 311, which is a police code for indecent exposure in Omaha. The band found the story so amusing that they settled on 311 as their band name. Watson, the lead guitarist, would later leave the band and was replaced by Tim Mahoney. They are still going strong today, with 2014’s Stereolithic being their most recent studio album.

2. The Who

An excellent band name for one of the all-time great rock acts, The Who were originally called The Detours. Whilst searching for a new name for the group, people would come up to the members with their suggestions. There were a lot of odd suggestions, which frequently saw the likes of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, and Keith Moon simply reply “the who?” Townsend and his roommate Richard Barnes also liked the theme of having joke announcements as a band name, such as “No One” or “The Group.” In another version of how the band name came about, Townsend’s grandmother would always refer to bands as “the who?” due to her impaired hearing. Whichever version is true, it turned out to be an excellent choice, as they would go on to become one of the greatest bands of all time and now everybody knows their name.

1. Lynyrd Skynyrd

The act is famed for popularizing southern rock through signature songs such as “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd first formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida. They first went under the name My Backyard, and they would not settle on Lynyrd Skynyrd until 1969. They first decided on Leonard Skinnerd, which was a mocking tribute to the physical education teacher that all of the members had when they were in school together. This was a teacher that they disliked due to his strict enforcement of the school’s policy against boys having long hair, which led to Gary Rossington dropping out. The spelling was altered shortly after to avoid a lawsuit. With their success, they became friendly with the teacher in the later years and even invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.

 

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Tales of Rock – Explicit Adventures of Traveling Rockstars

The annals of music history are rich with tales from the road — stories of questionable behavior, catastrophes in transit, run-ins with the locals, and shenanigans of the most bizarre and extreme order. Who could forget the infamous Led Zeppelin mudshark incident, or that time Frank Zappa was nearly killed when a crazed concertgoer, incensed by his girlfriend’s infatuation with the musician, pushed Zappa off the stage at London’s Rainbow Theatre?

Frank Zappa recovering after being pushed off stage

These stories are the stuff of music history legend; they become mythologized, and some are even completely fabricated, like Robert Johnson’s crossroads meeting with the devil, or Ozzy’s Alamo urination.

Such anecdotes have become an art form, a time-honored tradition in the culture of any genre of contemporary music. Thousands of biographies and memoirs recount the exploits of musicians on tour. And the notion of the “crazy tour story” hasn’t disappeared as legendary musicians hang up their boots or pass on to that great gig in the sky.

A new crop of bands and artists has taken up this mantle, constantly refilling the anecdotal coffers with fresh tales of mayhem. Sure, there are sexed-up narratives to be told, but the typical “so I took her back to the tour bus” story only has so much mileage to it. Wilder is the violent episodes, the truly catastrophic stuff. And while the escapades of big-name artists can prove droll, those of grassroots, touring bands are often more intriguing.

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The Holly Springs Disaster guitarist Josh Guillaume on tour in Stouffville, Ontario | Photo by Daniel Bray

Today, there’s an entire subset of the music industry, and innumerable careers, dedicated to chronicling such noteworthy events. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, MTV News and TMZ — a dazzling array of media outlets keep us fully abreast of on-the-road monkeyshines of musicians from any stratum of fame, from one-hit wonders like Afroman, who recently made headlines for delivering a haymaker to a fan who was unlucky enough to be dancing behind him onstage, to superstars like Justin Bieber (no one’s forgotten what you did in Germany, Biebs). Outside the realm of celebrity, though, musicians are still getting into trouble, and their tour stories continuously add to the canon of lore that has come to define the archetype of the traveling musician.

Sauced

“This is what rock and roll is all about,” says “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff (real name: Hennegan), bassist for the raunchy pop-rock group The Bloodhound Gang (think, “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals”►). He’s talking about a night in New Orleans 10 years ago, when he was working as a roadie on the Jägermeister Tour with Slayer, Archenemy, and Hatebreed. He tells this story between an anecdote about going to court to testify against some young punk (“this fucking ballbag”) who graffitied the Gang’s RV in Towson, Maryland, and a tale about filling his manager’s briefcase with old sushi one time in Berlin.

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Bloodhound Gang bassist “Evil” Jared Hasselhoff performs onstage at the V2000 Festival in the U.K., 2000 | Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

That night in New Orleans, the tour package was playing the House of Blues, and after soundcheck, Jared had gone to the Harrah’s next door to gamble a bit. “I made a huge mistake and had some mall sushi,” Hennegan says. The raw fish made Jared’s stomach churn and roil. He felt what he was sure was just a substantive fart building up, and he let ‘er rip. Unfortunately, Hennegan got more than he bargained for and his bowels voided themselves at that moment. “There was at least a solid cup of shit,” he claims. Jared’s stomach rumbled again and his gut expelled another wave of noxious waste. “It was everywhere,” he says. “It was, like, a quart of diarrhea.” Soiled, shit-stinking, and sick, Hennegan retired to his hotel room to lie down.

Several hours later, Evil Jared was back in action, hanging out with some other roadies in the venue’s VIP section. But the scene was grim: “No broads there; not a looker in the lot.” He grabbed the tour manager and headed to the bar next door, where they were soon approached by an enthused fan. “I think she’s half-Mexican, but she’s pretty hot,” he says.

“Yo, I know you work with the bands,” the girl proposed. “I’ll do anything if you get me into the show.”

Now, you might think you know exactly what happened next, but if you’re picturing a sordid, back-room exchange, you’d only be half-right. Evil Jared handed the girl “a shot of insanity hot sauce,” which she put down without issue. Then she took another. Jared escorted her backstage to the VIP section and went back to his hotel room to watch TV, while the girl proceeded to attack with gusto the green room’s generously stocked open bar.

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Jared Hasselhoff of Bloodhound Gang performs, pouring drinks for fans in the front row of the audience at Soundwave Festival at the Royal Melbourne Show Grounds on February 27, 2009, in Melbourne, Australia | Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns

Two hours later, Hennegan was back at the House of Blues and had run into a hot-sauce girl. “This is the guy who got me in!” she screamed, hammered after a go at the open bar. She threw her arms around Jared and shoved her tongue into his mouth. “We weren’t really making out, more like she was molesting me,” Jared offers. She was sloppy, but that was hardly a deterrent. Wanting privacy, Jared took the girl through the back of the venue to a quiet area, pulled open a door, and stepped into a small room. “Even working for Jägermeister, making out with some pissed-up slapper in the middle of the VIP area is frowned upon.”

“I realize we’re in the trash room,” he says. The couple was literally surrounded by gargantuan piles of trash, heaped high and probably smelling like the contents of Jared’s underwear earlier that night. Things started getting hot and heavy between the two, and suddenly, the girl stopped the action to make a request. “I’m on the rag right now,” she said, before asking Jared to place himself someplace fairly uncomfortable. “She asked me to fuck her in the ass,” Jared says.

“I think she was from Memphis,” he concludes.

The Cinder Block Brawl

Daniel Bray, a Toronto-based photographer, was on the road with the hardcore group, The Holly Springs Disaster, when the tour ran into some trouble with the residents of Stouffville, a small town in Ontario. The tour package had played an “awesome” show, and the bands were loading out when “out of nowhere, a hail of rocks and chunks of red bricks came raining down on us.” The groups turned to see two kids chucking stones from an empty lot nearby, and sent four or five guys over to deal with the situation.

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Singer Mike Froh of The Holly Springs Disaster performing in Stouffville, Ontario | photo by Daniel Bray

They broke Hayden’s leg! Bray heard minutes later. “One of the dudes named Hayden, from one of the Calgary bands on tour, went over there to stop these kids who were throwing bricks,” he says. “And one of them picked up a full-size cinder block and threw it at Hayden, and it broke his leg badly above the ankle.”

While Bray stayed with Hayden to administer some rudimentary first aid and help him into a fan’s car, the rest of the tour package went off in search of the culprits. Heading back to the venue, Bray saw a kid dash past him, holding a skateboard, with eight guys in hot pursuit. Bray followed.

“I’m not sure who got to him first,” Bray says, “but they caught up to him right behind the backstop for the ball diamond. They tackled him and had him up against the chain-link [fence], feeding him punches, in no time. Everyone else joined in as soon as they got there.” The entire tour package laid into the kid, using his skateboard as a weapon against him.

One guitar player broke his hand on the kid’s face. “You know those oil barrels that are used as big garbage cans?” Bray asks, “I saw one of those full of garbage dumped on the guy then the barrel thrown at him. We beat this guy up till he was limp.”

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Hayden at the hospital | photo by Daniel Bray

A few minutes into the beating, two cops watched from the safety of their squad car. “Alright boys, he’s had enough,” said one, emerging from his car to drag the bloodied youth away from the melee. “The other cop told us that this guy was the town’s biggest shit disturber,” Bray says. “He fucked with every single band that came to town, and no one ever did anything about it.” According to Bray, the cop was “stoked we put an end to [the kid’s] shenanigans and taught him a lesson.”

Greyhound to Hell

It’s not unusual to hear of out-of-town bands getting into altercations with local folk, especially in rural areas and red states. Once, while on tour, I nearly found myself the victim of a hate crime in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Paul Adler inside tour van “Connie,” left, and “Connie” parked in a residential area.

I had been working for a tiny record label on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour for six weeks, hawking my solo album in parking lots and spooning bags of ice while sleeping on the floor of our 15-passenger Ford van, “Connie.” The day after the Atlanta stop of the tour was to be an off-day, to give us time to make the drive to Cincinnati while those bands lucky enough to ride in buses had the chance to do some volunteer work. We woke up that morning in the empty parking lot of the festival grounds where the tour had stopped. We were freaked out. We’d heard gunshots nearby the night before.

We stopped at a gas station — where some guys pulled up next to our van and tried to sell us a VCR — and discovered the card we’d been using to gas up had expired. All we had was a couple of hundred dollars in the cash box, just enough to get the van back to our home base in D.C. The owner of the record label and I made the call to send the rest of our entourage back to D.C., giving them the cash to finance the trip. We would continue on to Cincinnati to shore up our contacts, as we assumed we’d want to get on the tour the next summer. We headed to the nearest Greyhound station to buy bus tickets.

Outside the station, we killed time waiting for our bus, crushing up Vicodin into a mason jar that’d once been home to moonshine-soaked berries. We mixed in some raspberry schnapps and some Svedka and drank deep, knowing we had a long ride ahead. We found a bum who sold us a $5 bag of weed, rolled a joint, and smoked in the van until we heard a knock at the window. It was two cops, who warned us this was a “rough neighborhood” and walked away.

As my buddy and I went to board our bus, a haggard-looking old man asked if we wanted to buy some Xanax, which we politely declined, as we were already pretty fucked up.

We got on the bus and, to our chagrin, the only two seats available were aisle seats directly across from each other. However, the seats weren’t entirely, well, available: the gentlemen taking up the respective window seats were so large that their torsos spilled over into our seats, leaving me and my buddy each with one cheek in the seat and one in the aisle. Uncomfortable as it was, it wasn’t long before we passed out.

I awoke at 5 p.m. at a bus station on the outskirts of Knoxville, irate and desperate for a beer. We had half an hour to kill, and I thought myself miraculously lucky when I found a bar right next door. But when I walked into the dank, dusky honky-tonk, I found myself in a scene akin to a classic movie. Every drunken day-shift worker put down his drink and stared right at me. These guys were white-bread, and I’m the kind of half-Indian who gets dark in the summer. On top of that, my tattoos were exposed and my beard was in full effect. “I’m going to die,” I thought.

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Marie’s Olde Town Tavern

As soon as I got my $1 Bud, this yokel sidled up to me and slurred, “Hey, brother, you better get off that Allah, man — it’s all about Jeeeezuss!”

“Oh. Oh no. No, I don’t like Allah. I love Jesus. I swear,” I swore. The man put down his beer and started to stand up; several of his peers did the same. I grabbed my Budweiser and made for the door, full beer in hand.

I made it back to the bus and on to Cincinnati in one piece. I was back on another Greyhound by 2 a.m. the next night, after paying a cabbie $10 to drive me over the bridge into northern Kentucky — where I’d stood in front of a line of cars at a drive-thru liquor and begged the cashier to sell me a fifth of whiskey. I didn’t tour much after that.

Detours and Disasters

Often, musicians on tour encounter pitfalls in the form of natural or man-made disasters — tempestuous weather, accidents, and calamities of every sort, ranging from mild delays to Almost Famous-esque transportation woes.

Geoff Bennington, the guitarist/vocalist of the Brooklyn indie-rock outfit Gillian, describes narrowly missing one such cataclysm while the band was en route to Johnson City, Tennessee. “I think it was only the second full day of our first time on the road together as a band,” he remembers. They’d almost reached their destination, driving south on I-81, when their phones began to buzz and flicker with messages announcing an area-wide tornado watch. “We had no idea what to do,” says Bennington. “We looked out the window and saw that [the sky] was, for the most part, totally clear and open,” so the band kept driving.

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Band Gillian | Photo by Brian Lauer

Minutes later, everyone’s phones lit up with a second emergency message, a tornado warning. The band drove on, watching as other motorists pulled over and switched on their hazard lights. “We’re fine as long as we’re not close to the exit for Route 21,” guitarist Paul Demyanovich said, trying to calm down the rest of the van’s occupants.

“The next sign we see says ‘Route 21, next exit’,” offers Bennington. “This also happens to be the road we have to take to get to Johnson City.” With no tornado in sight and their destination nearby, the band pushed forward. It didn’t take long for them to notice the broken signs and snapped trees littering the highway, so they got off 81 and made for the backroads.

“Suddenly, we could go no further,” Bennington says, “because a huge barn had been knocked over and into the road, along with some trees and power lines.” The van came to a halt as the band stumbled onto a harrowing, almost biblical scene: farm animals, loose, milled about in terror. In the middle of the road, an enormous barn lay in ruin, having dragged down a number of trees and power lines with it.

On the side of the road, people were emerging from storm cellars and damaged homes, their faces contorted in shock and dismay. “Apparently, we missed it by about two minutes,” Bennington says of the tornado. “Suddenly, I felt bad for discouraging that last quick bathroom stop we took that probably saved our lives with its serendipitous timing.”

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After the tornado hit, all that was left of a barn was a pile of lumber in the middle of the road

As long as fans of music are willing to shell out their hard-earned money to see live performances, there’ll be occasions for artists to get into trouble, to get involved in situations they’ll end up recounting to friends, fans, and journalists. These few snapshots into the lives of touring musicians are mere drops in the bucket, pages in an elephantine tome of booze-addled tomfoolery, waylaid van trips, vicious tempests, and snafus involving the locals. Every tour story, every new bit of oral tradition, adds another layer to the lore of the itinerant musician and another episode in the vast history of on-the-road antics we’ve come to expect from bands the world over.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Breakfast Cereal – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – 1960s-1970s

Frosted Flakes: These were great. Tony the Tiger as their spokesperson always yelling They’re GRRRReat! Can’t beat him as a pitchman.

Froot Loops: Those colored fruity Cheerios. (They all tasted the same to me)Toucan Sam telling us about how his Nose, Knows that this is a delicious cereal and we should eat it every day.

Apple Jacks: Just another variety of Fruit Loops. But didn’t these have some sort of crystalized dark bits on them or am I thinking of something else? I liked these just the same.

Rice Krispies: Three little chefs named Snap, Crackle, and Pop represent this brand. Remember how if you put your ear to the bowl to listen for that sound? Just little puffs absorbing the milk made that sound. It was more like a hissing sound to me.

Cocoa Krispies: Same thing except with a chocolatey taste added.

Lucky Charms: A sustaining classic. I had these once as a kid and liked them. But I think my dad put the kibosh on this cereal early on. Just more sugary crap! So we didn’t really eat this cereal as a kid. But I would never turn it down if ever offered this as a snack. But here’s the thing. Because the marshmallow stars, moon, hearts, and clovers were large, (The size of m&ms) the dish was very sugary. So if you ate the cereal by itself, it was sure plain and boring. (Like original Cheerios) But who didn’t love the little Leprechaun? Everybody was always trying to steal his Luck Charms to no avail.

Trix: This cereal began as these tiny hollow balls that were different colors like fruit loops. They eventually changed their shape in later years. Maybe the balls became too expensive to make anymore. But How can we forget that screwy rabbit that was always trying to get the cereal away from the kids in the commercial? “Silly Rabbit! Trix are for kids!”

Alpha-Bits: I liked these. A cereal takes on the alphabet soup theme. They tasted just like Honey Comb to me. I used to try to make bad words out of the letters in my cereal bowl. Nothing like starting your day with a nice bowl of Alpha-Bits where you see the word Sh*t floating in there. Kids!

Super Sugar Crisps: These were good but got soggy quickly. Wasn’t the mascot a bear in a striped sweater who acted cool all the time? Did he sing like Bing Crosby or something? Bizarre.

Sugar Smacks: I think this was similar to sugar crisps but were represented by a frog maybe?

Sugar Pops or Corn Pops: This is a good cereal that I like to eat to this day. But aren’t they the same?

Cap’n Crunch: This guy is the CEO of breakfast cereals. I loved these crunchy little squares. They didn’t get soggy, and I could eat bowls of this fine cereal. He was cool, because he had a crew, and there was even a bad pirate in the commercials I think. John La Foote? Lafite? Not sure. But a damn fine cereal and one of my all-time favorites.

King Vitamin: Just when you think they can’t make a cereal that’s better than Cap’n Crunch, they make this cereal. It was exactly the same product as CC, but they were in the shape of little crowns. (They looked more like little gears to me) But, they were crunchier and sweeter than CC. So this became my favorite cereal in the early 70s. I remember the song. “King Vitamin! Have breakfast with the king!”

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry: Again… flavored Cheerios. Strawberry, Chocolate, and I’m assuming Blueberry. I loved Franken Berry cereal. It was another one of my all-time favorites. I wasn’t a fan of real strawberries but I liked this cereal. I consumed tons of it back in the 70s. One of my favorite things to do was have it as a snack too. My mom would pour it into a bowl and I would eat it dry. But there was a method to my madness. I would first consume all of the cereal and leave all of the tiny marshmallows at the bottom of the bowl. I would then gather them all up in my hands and form them into one big ball with my fingers. It would be a little bigger than a golf ball. I would then proceed to eat it. It was like a ball of candy at the end of your snack. A fitting, sugary dessert to top off your day. I remember the characters referring to the marshmallows in the cereal as “Sweeties” which I thought was weird because it was obvious what they were. They later referred to the sweeties as marshmallows. (Probably got a call from my dad)

I never had Count Cocula, but my friend Wayne used to eat it religiously. He said the only thing was, it turned the milk nearly black at the end and that just seemed gross. Boo Berry? he came late to the game and I never had that one either. Nobody cares about Boo Berry. He’s just a ghost.

Honey Comb: “Come to the Honey Comb hideout. Gonna eat and gonna play. Gonna live in the Honey Comb Hideout! Eatin’ Honey Comb every day!” That was the jingle from the commercial. It would be my dream in life to live in the Honeycomb hideout and eat honeycomb every day, sir. I like this cereal. It was big. Bigger than it probably is now. each bit was bigger than a quarter. It looked like a little beehive and those holes held the milk. Delicious. But that wasn’t the best part of this great cereal.

On the back of each box, they had somehow through the miracle of modern 70s technology managed to press a record on the back of the box. yes, my friends. When you were done eating all of the cereal, you could cut the record off the back of the box and it would actually play on your record player. The first ones were Archie songs but the later ones were by The Monkees! I played the song Mary, Mary by the Monkees so many times once my mother told me if she heard that song one more time she was going to strangle me.

The best part was, I never waited to finish the box of cereal. We would be home from the market and I would convince my mom to dump out the cereal into jars so I could get at that record on the back of the box TODAY!

Thanks for always letting me do that, Mom.

Freakies: This was actually a really tasty cereal. It was O-shaped and sort of tasted like a cross between Cap’n Crunch and Apple Jacks I think. I liked it and in each box, you got a different little Freaky character from the commercial. They were just little plastic figures that were like army men. Boss Moss was green. He was the leader obviously. Grumble was orange and always miserable like Oscar from Sesame Street. I think there was a girl freaky as well. They were cute little creatures and I liked the cereal. I remember we kept getting Grumbles over and over. At one point it was like… “Ahh… another Grumble. (Just pitches him into the trash)

Quisp and Quake: I love this one. I only ate Quisp as a kid. The cereal was shaped like little bowls. (flying saucers) Quisp was a little cartoon alien dude, and Quake was a burly man. In the commercials, they were always trying to prove who was the better cereal. It was a cute marketing campaign. Create a completion between the two brands. But here’s the thing we all knew even as kids. Quisp and Quake tasted exactly the same. They were just different shapes. Who were these clowns fooling? Not us kids!

I remember once they decided to have the two characters compete in a race from Long Island New York to Lompoc California. This was to settle who was the better cereal. I followed this competition very closely on TV commercials and the backs of the cereal boxes. Here’s the thing. Neither of them ever made it or completed the race. Quisp was left on the market and Quake disappeared from store shelves. It was bizarre.

Kix: I think I had this cereal once in the late 70s or early 80s. Just another cereal that tasted like puffed balls of Cap’n Crunch. They really only had a few recipes for cereal back then I guess. Just change the shape and the marketing campaign and you got yourself a brand new cereal. Bu the one thing that really stands out in my mind was the jingle on the commercials. I would be watching TV with my friend, and it would come on.  The little kid would start the song, “Kids like Kix for what Kix has got!” and then the mom would finish the line, “Mom’s like Kix for what Kix has not”. (this meant kids liked the taste, and moms liked that it was low in sugar) But when my vile little friends and I would hear this little diddy we’d always change the lyrics to something dirty. I won’t repeat it here, because Google Adsense will probably suspend the advertising on my site. But you get the idea. See what you can come up with…

Oh’s: My favorite cereal of the 80s. I loved this cereal. I should probably see if they still make it. Again. Cap’n Crunch-shaped O’s with some sort of sugary substance in the hole. Loved these crunchy morsels. Great cereal!

Fruity Pebbles: This is just fruit-flavored rice crispies.

Here are some links to some further reading on this subject:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_breakfast_cereals

https://clickamericana.com/topics/food-drink/40-favorite-breakfast-cereals-1967

https://www.metv.com/lists/lost-breakfast-cereals-of-the-1960s-and-1970s

https://delishably.com/breakfast/Breakfast-Cereal-Favorites-of-Yesteryear

The 50 Greatest  Breakfast Cereal Prizes of all time:

https://www.mrbreakfast.com/list.asp?id=6

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Breakfast Cereal – Part 1

Philadelphia, PA – 1960s-1970s

Growing up in the suburbs in Philly was great. We lived in a pleasant, quiet neighborhood. It looked like a snapshot from nostalgic America back then. All of the dads headed out in the morning in their cars to their jobs and the moms stayed home and took care of the house and kids.

Breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Sure, lunch usually consisted of a sandwich on white bread with some potato chips and a drink, and dinner was a protein, a vegetable, and a carb. You got a couple of cookies for dessert and a glass of milk.

All good, but breakfast was the most fun meal of the day. That’s because back then, we had so many cool cereals to pick from. Many of them tasted the same and were just manufactured into different shapes and brands. But they had such great personalities. No other food in your life as a kid had funny characters and mascots like breakfast cereals did. You also never got a prize in a bag of peas or a can of baked beans.

I used to love going to the supermarket with my mom. She would be off somewhere in the store pushing the cart and collecting items from the handwritten list she’d made at home. I would be standing in the cereal aisle for the entire hour. Time moves slowly when you’re a kid, and normally doing errands with your parents was boring. Unless there was the promise of some treat at the end of the trip for good behavior, it was a drag.

But looking at all of the cereals in the aisle made the trip worthwhile. So many cool cereals to choose from. Most of our moms worked on a pretty strict food budget. They had to think of the five people at home and how to make the food money go the farthest.

But as a kid, you have no concept of money because you simply don’t have any, nor the skills to earn any of it for yourself. (Unless you had a paper route, then you were an earner!)

I would stand in that aisle and read all of the boxes carefully. Never worry about any nutritional value or cost. The big questions in my mind were always the same. What kind of prize is the best out of all of these cereals? How many box tops do I need to send away to get an even better free prize?

Before I begin, remember Tang? That weird orange drink that the astronauts drank on the Apollo spacecraft? I tasted it as a kid, and it reminds me of the flavor of today’s Sunny D. We never had Tang as a kid. My mom would buy these rolls of frozen orange juice concentrate in bulk. I remember her mixing it up in the kitchen. Chopping through the slushy mess until it became orange juice. She was always nice enough to strain the pulp out of mine. I thought pulp was gross. It always felt weird in my mouth. Like I was drinking something that had some weird stuff in it that shouldn’t be there.

I write these nostalgic pieces and I really enjoy it, but sometimes I like the reader to come away from it having learned something.

Do you know why kids like candy and sugary cereal? Why do we crave sugar in any form as a kid? The reason goes back millions of years to the origins and development of our species.

What’s usually the first thing a baby does when you hand it something. Yep. Right in the mouth. Why? Because we’re predisposed to test objects we find as babies to see if they are a potential food source. That’s how we learn what we can and can’t eat to survive. Over thousands of years of evolution, babies developed a taste for sweets.

Why? Because most things that are sweet are not poisonous. That’s why little children like sweets. They won’t die if they put it in their mouth like everything else. So the next time you reach for that Kit Kat, you’re just doing what your ancestors knew was right.

Let’s talk healthy first. I remember my dad never agreed with us chowing down on bowls of sugary cereal every day. “It’s not good for your teeth!” “It’s a bunch of sugary crap that has no nutritional value!” “It’s junk!”

All the while he was chowing down on fried eggs, and greasy bacon every morning. Cholesterol and fat city, dad!

He once had the idea that we should all try cream of wheat instead of eating sugary cereals every day. We all tried it one morning on a weekend. It was horrible. We’ve already been eating the crunchy, sugary deliciousness of store-bought fun cereals. Why would we ever want to eat this swill? A big warm bowl of gruel? What sort of medieval torture is this? Gross! No, thank you.

I will say this. My mom was awesome. Every morning for 20 years I would roll downstairs and have a seat at the table. I ate a bowl of cereal while intently reading the back of the box. Next, 2 pieces of bacon, a slice of buttery toast, and a glass of orange juice.

remember waking up in your bed, and you could smell the bacon cooking downstairs? there’s nothing like that in the world. Why does bacon crackle and sizzle when you fry it in a pan? Yes, because it sounds like applause. Bacon has rightfully earned that ovation!

My daughter is Vegan, and I feel sad for her as I write these words.

i could have drunk more than the small 6oz glass of orange juice each morning but you simply don’t need that much juice to get your daily dose of vitamin C. “It’s full of sugar and citric acid! It’s going to irritate your stomach.” Yes… dad again.

But it was a balanced breakfast. Oats, protein, carbs, and vitamin C. Sounds good to me. I think that’s why I love breakfast so much even today. Did you ever go into a 24-hour diner and have breakfast for dinner? Brilliant!

Oh, and when my dad brought home some donuts from the bakery? Cream-filled powdered donuts? My favorite! Good bagels? yes, please! A well-made bagel doesn’t even need anything on it to be awesome.

But I digress…

Let’s talk about some of these breakfast cereals we had as kids.

I’m just going to cruise over the boring adult cereals and get to the fun stuff, but they’re worth mentioning.

  1. Cream of Wheat – Awful
  2. Wheaties – Popular with the athletic sports set
  3. Shredded Wheat – Parent breakfast food. I’m assuming dad needs a bit more fiber
  4. Spoon-Sized Shredded Wheat – Let’s make the same thing smaller so they can shovel more of our product into their gaping maws.
  5. Rice Chex & Wheat Chex – Looked like something you dumped into at a party to snack on. (But I always wondered how they made those little ventilated squares)
  6. Corn Flakes – No taste. Gets instantly soggy, and is really Frosted Flakes that have been stripped of their sugary deliciousness. So sad.
  7. Special K. – Also crap. No, thank you. As bad as Corn Flakes. There’s a reason we called that one girl, Special K  who rode the short bus to that ‘other school’.
  8. Product 19 – Did anybody even buy this cereal that sounds like a failed experiment?
  9. Rainin Bran – What’s Bran? No, mom, I don’t want to eat raisins as a snack and especially not in my cereal. Just chewy grossness.
  10. Life – Is this boring cereal what adult life will eventually become for me? Probably. But, no.
  11. Grape-Nuts– No one believes anything Wilfred Brimley is saying about this cereal. As Seinfeld says, No Grapes. No Nuts. What’s the deal?
  12. Total – I don’t know or care. Totally boring, okay?
  13. Cheerios – Okay… these are good and I still eat them when I get the munchies if you get what I mean.

Remember those variety packs of cereal they used to make? I think they still make them today. But back then they looked cool because they were tiny replicas of the real cereal boxes. I once asked my mom what these little boxes had an I-shaped perforation along the face of each box. She told me, that if you opened it that way and tore open the bag inside, you could pour milk in there and the box would serve as an on-the-go bowl of cereal. I never did that but thought it was an innovative idea. But I thought, what if I went through all of that and then realized I had forgotten to bring a spoon with me?

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2. We’ll talk about the fun cereals!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Stabbing Westward

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stabbing_Westward

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1