F is for Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

“The first sound adaptation of the story, Frankenstein (1931), was produced by Universal Pictures, directed by James Whale, and starred Boris Karloff as the monster.”

FrankensteinThe novel Frankenstein was written by English author Mary Shelley when she was but 20 years old. It was published with no author credit on 1 January 1818. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in 1823.

It is a classic tale. Victor Frankenstein animates a creature. By the end, we’re left to wrestle with the question of whether it’s the man or the creature who is is truly the monster.

The recent bicentennial of Frankenstein might be reason enough to note the book. But it is the many appearances in popular culture that have sustained the story’s popularity.

The first film adaptation of the tale, Frankenstein, was made by Edison Studios in 1910. That short piece has been restored, and you can watch it right here.

“The first sound adaptation of the story, Frankenstein (1931), was produced by Universal Pictures, directed by James Whale, and starred Boris Karloff as the monster. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry…

“In Great Britain, a long-running series by Hammer Films focused on the character of Dr. Frankenstein (usually played by Peter Cushing) rather than his monster.”

It is these portrayals that have kept Frankenstein in the popular culture. When I was growing up, two sitcoms had characters who had the “look.” Lurch (Ted Cassidy) on The Addams Family (1964-1966) was a standard creature in the Karloff tradition; “You rang?”

Whereas in The Munsters (also 1964-1966), Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) was “the patriarch of a family of kindly monsters. The rest of the family included a grandfather resembling the Universal Dracula…, a wife that resembles ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’, and a werewolf son.”

In 1971, General Mills put out the monster cereals, chocolate-flavored Count Chocula and the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry. “Since 2010, Franken Berry, Boo Berry [first released in 1973], and Count Chocula cereals have been manufactured and sold only for a few months during the autumn/Halloween season in September and October.”

My favorite iteration has to be the movie comedy Young Frankenstein (1974) by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. Borrowing “heavily from the first three Universal Frankenstein films… Wilder portrays Dr. Frankenstein’s American grandson, Frederick, while Peter Boyle plays the monster.” I literally fell out of my seat with laughter – it WAS an aisle seat – when I first saw this in the cinema.

Dustbury posted this recently: “Disabled Valery Spiridonov, 33, was ready to have his neck severed by Professor Sergio Canavero — dubbed ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ — and his head reattached to a new, healthy body.”

Finally, listen to Frankenstein by the Edgar Winters Group here or here or a long version here. It went to #1 in 1973 on the Billboard charts in the US.

For ABC Wednesday

Q is for Quisp and Quake cereal

Quisp was relaunched as the “first Internet cereal”.

I have long been a big fan of breakfast cereal items, as I’ve written about on this blog. But I was fascinated/mystified by the marketing ploy that surrounded two Quaker Oats cereal products in the mid-1960s, Quisp and Quake.

From Nightflight:

“They decided to have the two cereals compete against one another in a kind of popularity contest, broadcasting a TV commercial in which the voice-over announcer, Paul Frees, invited viewers at home to decide: ‘Take sides with either – two new cereals from Quaker, sort of a breakfast feud.’

“Each cereal had its own mascot, but they were essentially the same cereal with different shapes and slogans: Quisp was ‘The quisp new cereal from outer space!’ and Quake was ‘The power cereal from inner space!'”

From the Wikipedia:

“The ads were cartoons created by Jay Ward, who also created the cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle,” – I was a big fan of moose and squirrel – “Dudley Do-Right, and many others, and the ads used some of the same voice actors as the Rocky and Bullwinkle series, including Daws Butler as the voice of Quisp (an alien who was the Crown Prince of Planet Q and, like moon men Gidney and Cloyd of Rocky and Bullwinkle, was armed with a scrooch gun) and William Conrad as the voice of Quake (a miner). ”

From Mr. Breakfast:

“Quisp proved to have much more consumer appeal and traditionally beat Quake in sales. Quaker placed the blame on Quake the character.

“In 1967, Quake the burly miner was transformed into a thinner, only-slightly-more-kid-friendly rendition of himself. The miner’s helmet was traded in for an Australian cowboy hat. The change in appearance was explained in ads by a story line in which Quake entered a ‘new and improver machine’. Gears and automated boxing gloves plummeted the large character until he emerged from the machine thinner (and with a new hat).

“Despite efforts to make Quake less daunting, Quisp continued its reign as the more popular cereal.”

But eventually…


“In the late 1970s, Quisp was discontinued due to low sales. It was brought back in the mid-1980s, then again in the 1990s and in 2001, where it was relaunched as the “first Internet cereal”. Consumers were encouraged to visit the Quisp Web site to view animated endings to cartoons on the back of the cereal box.

“Quisp has remained in limited distribution, with Quaker Oats distributing the product in ‘guerrilla displays’ that would appear in a store and last until the product sold out… Quaker Oats also sells Quisp directly to the public through an online store.” But Quake has never been revived.

I found Quisp on Amazon, in multipacks of 3, 4, 6 or 12 8.5 ounce boxes.

About the product –

Low fat
Cholesterol free
Excellent source of 7 essential vitamins

I’m TEMPTED to order it, out of base curiosity.

WATCH the commercials.

ABC Wednesday, Round 20

K is for Kellogg’s Cereal Bowls

I have NO recollection of ordering these bowls.

kelloggs cereal bowls
This is an odd little story.

Back in early 1980s, my (now) parents-in-law had befriended this older woman named Alice. She became part of their family. I met her a few times; she was a nice lady.

Around 2003, she died, and my parents-in-law were tasked to take her stuff from the trailer in which she lived, plus a storage unit. The items were removed en masse, without looking much at what items were present. They did sorting as time allowed.

Jump to 2014. In the midst of their own move, the in-laws discover this box with Alice’s handwritten note, “A Gift From” my wife. But the box initially had been mailed to ME at my address before we got married, from E.P.I Fulfillment in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Contained therein were four Kellogg’s cereal bowls, the same ones pictured above, with a 1996 copyright date.

I have NO recollection of ordering these bowls. Nor does my spouse remember having given them to Alice. Still, they’ve made their way back to us.

They go for about $20-$45 for the set on eBay, depending on condition, and they appear to be in near-mint condition, so I doubt she ever used them. I’m not inclined to sell them anytime soon.

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

The Lydster, Part 121: The nutritional value of Froot Loops

Raisin Bran is probably the better choice than the Froot Loops, but not so much better as I thought.

I want The Daughter to eat well, but if she wants an occasional box of Kellogg’s Froot Loops, a “sweetened multi-grain cereal,” I might buy it if it’s on sale. The Wife was complaining that she had made that choice for breakfast when she replied that it was healthier than the Kellogg’s Raisin Bran I was eating. Let’s look at the side panels:

SERVING SIZE: 1 cup (FL-29 g, RB-59g)

Calories: FL-110, RB-190. Advantage, FL.
Saturated fat: 0.5g, RB-0g. Advantage RB.
Sodium: FL 135 mg, RB-210mg. Advantage, FL.
Potassium: FL-35mg, RB-390mg. Big advantage, RB.
Total carbohydrates: FL-26g, RB-46g. Advantage, FL.
Dietary fiber: FL-3g, RB-7g. Advantage-RB.
Protein: FL-1g, RB-5g. Advantage-RB.

Then it’s all those minimum daily requirement percentages.

Most of them are the same, with these exceptions:
Vitamin C: FL-25%, RB-0%. Big advantage, FL, although it’s undoubtedly some additive.
Calcium: FL-0%, RB-2%. Small advantage-RB.
Phosphorus and magnesium: FL-0%, RB-20% each. Advantage: RB.
Zinc: FL-0%, RB-10%. Advantage-RB.

Finally, it’s the ingredients. Froot Loops’ first ingredient is sugar. The second is corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour, degerminated yellow corn flour); the first sounds OK, but the other? It has a lot of items I’m not exactly sure what they are, especially for the coloring. Raisin Bran starts with whole grain wheat, raisins, wheat bran before it gets to sugar.

I’ll still suggest that the Raisin Bran is probably the better choice than the Froot Loops, but not so much better as I thought.

ARA: Eddie asks about food

The day I got married to Carol, I rode my bike to Friendly’s on Delaware Avenue in Albany for breakfast.

Dolly Madison Raspberry Zingers

A couple of weeks ago, Eddie, the Renaissance Geek, who has been one of the bloggers I have been following the longest, asked a series of questions.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Spinach, no lie. It was one of the few vegetables I would eat as a child, along with peas, corn, green beans, and carrots. In the day, it was all canned. Fairly recently (2013, maybe for my birthday), The Wife bought a can of spinach; it was AWFUL! Fresh, preferably; frozen, if necessary.

Yes, I was heavily influenced by Popeye, who was featured on some local afternoon kiddie shows on WNBF-TV, Channel 12 in Binghamton, on which I appeared a few times.

Your preferred comfort food?

Boring, I know, but it’s mac and cheese. When I was in college, I might put a can of tuna fish in. BTW, in those days, a can of tuna was a lot bigger. Occasionally, I’d put in some cooked ground beef.

Do you ever eat a bowl of cereal just because you want one?

I mean, and why not?! I’ve blogged about cereal here, FCOL, complaining that people were too busy to eat cereal, which I think is absurd. Also blogged specifically about mixing cereals here.

What is your junk food weakness–the one you cautiously indulge because it would be too easy to go overboard with it?

Raspberry Zingers. Of all those junk-filled cakes, it wasn’t Twinkies or those chocolate things, it was the combination of coconut and faux fruit. There are knockoff brands, but none are as good as Dolly Madison.

Finally, what was your favorite, but now defunct, local restaurant?

I guess I’ll say Friendly’s. It’s not defunct, but it’s no longer in the city of Albany, or indeed in Albany County. The day I got married to Carol, I rode my bike to Friendly’s on Delaware Avenue in Albany for breakfast, a structure that’s been closed for years, and nothing’s been done with it. More recently, the restaurant on Central Avenue, which always took great care about The Daughter’s peanut allergy, disappeared, oddly only months after the building was rehabbed. The location on Wolf Road in Colonie also disappeared.

Going to the suburb of East Greenbush (which we did once) or the neighboring city of Troy (which I went to for the very first time just last week) is not the same, in terms of convenience.

I suppose it’s also that I am peevish that we had purchased some discounted coupons from our local restaurant, which closed the VERY NEXT WEEK!

By the way, the food questions come because I have chemo on Tuesday and my eating will be all screwed up for the rest of the week.

And you KNOW I wish you nothing but the best, Eddie!

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