Why, Kraft, Why?

April 23, 2015
Why, Kraft, Why?

Dear Kraft Foods:

I was ALREADY angry with you. I have been ever since you made the bone-headed decision a few years back to discontinue sales of your classic Chicken Noodle Dinner - a move which I still consider to be a personal insult to me and my family. 

That delicious dinner in the little brown box had been an important staple of mealtime in the Small Household for as far back as I could remember. More than merely an easy-to-make side dish that went with almost everything, it was an important and cherished family tradition that my parents bequeathed to me, and that my wife and I had passed on to our two sons, and which we fully expected they in turn would one day hand down to yet a fourth generation... until you decided to yank it away from us without even so much as a “by your leave.”   

I grew up believing that as long as we had at least one box of your Chicken Noodle Dinner in the cupboard, then all was right with the world. I derived a great deal of comfort from that belief. And I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear when I learned that I would never again have the opportunity to enjoy the taste of that golden goodness, or savor the aroma of it simmering on the stove.

Believe me, that loss was traumatic enough by itself. But it pales in comparison to the news that greeted us this week. Because now you’ve done more than simply break the hearts of a single family. You’ve shoved a fork right into the heart of America itself.

And what’s worse, you act as if we ought to be applauding you for having done so.

America has long been known for its spirit of ingenuity and inventiveness. We broke away from our mother country in a manner which history had never witnessed, and became a beacon of creativity for the world. We gave that world the light bulb, the telephone, rock and roll and Luke Skywalker. We landed a man on the moon - not just once but several times - and brought him home safely to enjoy the virtues of cable television and those little rolls of hard candy with the hole in the center. America’s questing spirit is the very cornerstone of her national identity.

At the same time, however, we are a nation that places great value upon a little thing called TRADITION. We didn’t like it when a couple of unknown look-alikes replaced the popular stars of The Dukes Of Hazzard. We reacted with great disdain when “New Coke” was forced upon us back in the 1980s. We wept bitter tears a couple of years back when it looked as if Twinkies had gone the way of the dinosaur, and rejoiced when they were returned to us a little while later.

We don’t mind change... but total upheaval is another thing altogether. Which explains the loud, anguished cry of “NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” that accompanied this week’s news that you plan to change the recipe to your single most popular product: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Starting next January, we were told this past Monday, the two kinds of yellow dye that has given your cheese sauce its famous gooey yellow-orange look since 1937 will be replaced with natural ingredients like paprika, annatto and turmeric. You have promised that this change will have no effect on how your Mac and Cheese actually tastes. I’ve heard promises like that before; I can’t think of a single one that ever turned out to be true.

Why the change, we asked? Because it will be good for us, you said. Translation: You people knuckled under to the health nuts. Those people who would rather have us eat rice cakes that taste like cardboard than a fresh out-of-the-oven cinnamon roll. The same sort of cretins who fought for so long to do away with our beloved tradition of Saturday morning cartoons. 

Why can’t people like that mind their own #@%! business?

Okay, I get that we all need to eat healthier. Exhibit A: The reflection I saw staring back at me in the bathroom mirror this morning. But will taking away this most beloved of our comfort foods really make it a better world?

I just don’t see it.

There is a solution that can make both sides of the argument happy, if you have the guts to make it. Let those of us who love it keep our traditional Mac and Cheese, but go ahead and introduce a separate variety with this new recipe of yours in order to appease the food police. The precedent is already there; in the past you have given us Mac and Cheese with white Cheddar sauce, Three Cheese sauce and whole grain pasta, not to mention all those different kid-friendly variations sporting noodles in the shape of spirals and pinwheels and characters from Peanuts, Scooby-Doo, Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Surely there’s room on the store shelves for yet one more choice to make your health-conscious customers happy without punishing the rest of us who still know a good thing when we see, smell and taste it. (Maybe you could put it where the classic Chicken Noodle Dinner boxes used to be...)

That seems the best, most logical course of action... but I don’t think for one cheesy moment that you’ll have the courage to make it. It’s easier to simply bow to the whims of those heartless Grinches who wish to rob future generations of yet one more of the simple joys of life their parents and grandparents loved so dearly. 

So much for tradition. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to the store and stock up on the real stuff while there's still some to be had.


A Disgruntled Customer.

P.S. By the way, for what it’s worth, I’ve never liked Miracle Whip...



April 2, 2015

(* - A Latin term that means "the refutation of a proposition by demonstrating the inevitably absurd conclusion to which it would logically lead.)

You know what? I give up. I surrender. You’ve convinced me. I admit it, I was wrong. White flag. Uncle.

A fellow can take only so much hate mail and so many beatings about the head and shoulders with a proverbial two-by-four before he finally reaches the conclusion that he has engaged himself in a losing battle and capitulates. And so, effecti...

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The Davy Jones-Scooby Doo Counter-Revolution Polka (or, A Very Brady Crossover)

March 25, 2015

I have written a time or 10 in the past about my great childhood love of two great old TV series, Batman and The Green Hornet, both of which originally aired on ABC in the 1960s. Both shows were produced by a gentleman named William Dozier, who - in an effort to garner a larger viewership for The Green Hornet, which wasn’t quite bringing in the ratings of the other show - came up with the idea of having the Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato appear in an episode of Batman.  

Now you have t...

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February 25, 2015

Back in 1994 I self-published a collection of family recipes - some of them dreamed up by my mom and dad, some by me, some by my wife Melissa - and sold it locally at the Johnston County Fourth of July Festival and the Chickasaw Festival. Some of the recipes were silly things I came up with as a kid babysitting my younger brothers during the summer months; others were recipes that a lot of thought had been put into. I published 1,000 copies and sold all but the two that I kept for at home (on...

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February 19, 2015
...Long story short, I had to get a new computer in order to post updates, because the one I've been using at work uses an older operating system and is apparently no longer compatible with the Yola website. (Actually I had to get a new laptop for at home anyway, but that's another story....)

Anyway, I'm back after far too long an absence. So first things first: When things went "kerflooey" I was two posts away from completing my participation in the "Spohn Challenge," which asks participants ...
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September 17, 2014
(Note: This week’s entry in the "Spohn Challenge" project was written in the form of a historical text. The idea was to create a tale that combined elements of Tolkien-like fantasy with the legends of Robin Hood or Zorro. I don't know that the attempt has been particularly successful, but I had a swell time writing it anyway and in the end that's what matters, I think...)

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(HISTORICAL NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Book 5, Chapter 14, of ...

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September 8, 2014
(Note: Now that we're back on track, here is the latest entry in the weekly "Spohn Challenge" project...)

Jack Ramsey stirred in his hospital bed, opened his eyes and looked up into the face of the beautiful woman who - even though he knew he hadn't deserved it - had promised to love, honor and cherish nearly six decades before. 

It had been a long journey together, and he understood that for him that journey would soon be over. He understood it, but he didn't much like it. It wasn't the leav...

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September 5, 2014
And here we have the third and final set of "Spohn Challenge" stories that I was forced to post elsewhere while having issue with this site over the course of the summer. This set brings up up to this week's entry (No. 48), so barring any recurrence of the glitches that gave me such fits, next week we'll be picking up back on schedule as far as the stories being posted here as opposed to on my Facebook wall.

So let's get started, shall we...?

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September 5, 2014
Here is the second batch of the "Spohn Challenge" entries I wrote and posted on Facebook while I was having technical problems here:

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Five years ago, when a fellow named Jackson Talbot first moved into town and opened his Crimson Jack’s Naughty Nighties Emporium over on the west side of town, a few of the women in Jillian’s neighborhood took part in a series of demonstrations organized by a small group of well-meaning litt...

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September 5, 2014
Well, it seems that the technical problems that have kept me from posting updates since earlier this summer have finally been resolved. So I thought I'd better post the entries I'd written for the weekly "Spohn Challenge" project during that time so they'll all be here in one place. (During the duration I posted each new story on my Facebook wall in order to stay on schedule and not forfeit my participation in the project.) Some of the stories are longer than others, so I'm splitting this upd...
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About Me

John Allen Small John A. Small is an award-winning newspaper journalist, columnist and broadcaster whose work has been honored by the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the National Newspaper Association, and the Oklahoma Education Association. He and his wife Melissa were married in 1986; they have two sons, Joshua Orrin (born 1991) and William Ian (born 1996). Mr. Small is the News Editor and columnist for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, a weekly newspaper headquartered in Tishomingo, OK. He obtained his nickname, "Bard of the Lesser Boulevards," from a journalism colleague - the late Phil Byrum - in recognition of the success of his popular newspaper column, "Small Talk." (In addition to the many awards the column itself has received over the years, a radio version of "Small Talk" earned an award for "Best Small Market Commentary" from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1998.) John was born in Oklahoma City in 1963; lived in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area of Illinois for most of the next 28 years (with brief sojourns in Texas and Athens, Greece, thrown in to break up the monotony); then returned to his native state in 1991, where he currently resides in the Tishomingo/Ravia area. He graduated from Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in 1981, and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in 1991. The years between high school and college were a period frought with numerous exploits and misadventures, some of which have become the stuff of legend; nobody was hurt along the way, however, which should count for something. In addition to his professional career as a journalist he has published two short story collections: "Days Gone By: Legends And Tales Of Sipokni West" (2007), a collection of western stories; and "Something In The Air" (2011), a more eclectic collection. He was also a contributor to the 2005 Locus Award-nominated science fiction anthology "Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe," edited by Win Scott Eckert. In additon he has written a stage play and a self-published cookbook; served as project editor for a book about the JFK assassination entitled "The Men On The Sixth Floor"; and has either published or posted on the Internet a number of essays, stories and poems. He has also won writing awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Library of Poetry. He is a past president of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce in Tishomingo; was a charter member and past president of the Johnston County Reading Council, the local literacy advocacy and "friends of the library" organization; served as Johnston County's first-ever Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator in 1994-95; served two terms as chairman of the Johnston County (OK) Democratic Party; and has taught journalism classes for local Boy Scout Merit Badge Fairs. He is a member of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society.
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