E.L. Fudge with an Attitude

While in Chicago I had the opportunity to try the new fudge mint and peanut butter Oreos. I pronounced them good. The mint was especially nice, with a pretty decent minty flavor. The peanut butter was less satisfying, lacking a pronunced PB bouquet. But come on, how bad can an Oreo be?

There was a time when I kept very close tabs on such things, though not anymore (actually I don’t even know how new these products really are, they could be a decade “new” and I wouldn’t even know). My first job out of college was selling cookies for Keebler in and around the South Side of Chicago. It was a harrowing job for a white bred suburbanite like me, but then there were the free cookies, which kinda took the edge off. For every street person trying to hustle five bucks out of me for a traffic light car wash was a free box of Pecan Sandies. Not such a bad deal really.

The down side of the job was the promotional days when I had to put on the big Ernie the Elf outfit and walk around the store handing out cookies. It was a hopelssly humiliating introduction to street-level capitalism for a newly minted Liberal Arts grad.

Happily, there was an outlet for my pent-up hostility: Nabisco reps. Being the other big players in cookies and snacks in those days, they were the Keebler salesman’s natural enemy. Of course they despised us in return. The two sides were forever bribing store managers out of each others’ shelf space, sabotaging end-displays and messing up carefully preened rows of product. We also weren’t above scewing up each others’ promotional events. I remember once finding my Ernie head in a dumpster when I happened to leave it unattended one afternoon. I retaliated a month later by letting the air out of the guy’s giant Fig Newton balloon. Oh yes friends, there are no holds barred on the mean streets of retail sweets and snacks.

I remember once getting into a physical confrontation with a fellow dressed as Mr. Peanut one rainy afternoon. Granted, Planters isn’t a Nabisco brand, but I caught the bastard red-handed pushing over a row of my Butter Knots. Son of a bitch must pay. I can scarcely imagine what that must have looked like from a distance, two fully-outfitted company mascots pushing each other backwards through pyramids of canned goods, but hey, my pride was on the line. I stayed late that night stacking everything back up again, and the store owner called my regional manager. He came by and chewed me out severely in front of the customer, then took me out for a celebratory beer.

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