Every once in a while, usually with the help of a friend, I am reminded of something from my childhood that takes me back in time so completely, it's almost jarring.
That happened on Friday night.
I was still packing up from our monthly Tour the Town gallery walk (I sold a LOT!) at Cujak's, when in walked two of our friends, Julie and John. Julie was also part of the Tour and she had already loaded up. When I was done the four of us headed to Theo's, a popular restaurant downtown that serves dinner later than everyone else. I love Theo's because you can eat in the bar but it's quiet enough where conversation is actually possible.
To be honest, I cannot remember how Julie and I got to talking about it, but she mentioned Cream of Wheat. We got to reminiscing about how we had it every day as kids - and that's when I was instantly transported to 1303 Morris Avenue in Ashwaubenon. I could taste that Cream of Wheat like I had it yesterday (it's been YEARS). What a lovely experience! So not only did I relive a fond childhood experience, but Julie told me about Rastus.
You already know who Rastus is - he's the chef on the Cream of Wheat box! I'll bet you didn't even know he had a name - I sure didn't! I mean, I vaguely remember from my book Symbols of America the story of the icon, which was originally just a drawing but later became the image of a gentleman named Frank White, who supposedly was paid 5 dollars to pose in a chef's uniform. According to Wikipedia, Mr. White, who died in 1938, finally has his Cream of Wheat image engraved on his headstone.
In the early days of Cream of Wheat, though, Rastus wasn't the only spokesperson for the cereal. Some other advertisements feature kids, too.
In fact, check out Julie's AMAZING collection of honest-to-goodness advertisements from super-early magazines. Truly, it is unbelievable that: a) they even exist, and b) they're in such fabulous shape! As you can see, her collection is quite comprehensive.
Here is Julie's collection as it appears on her wall. What a fascinating conversation piece! And with that, I have to say a HUGE thank-you to Julie for sharing these photos with me so we could all enjoy them. I know Julie and I are not alone in our fondness for Cream of Wheat - I know there are many of you out there who feel the same about this product, and icon - let's hear from you! What's YOUR favorite flavor? :D