The Sweet Taste of Success

Remember when we were young, and sugar was a good thing? Companies, in fact, thought so much of sugar that they could openly advertise their products as made with the real deal. No one advertised with more gusto than the cereal companies, and of course, we all remember those classic commercials for Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes and Sugar Smacks.

That’s right, boys and girls, the Sugar Pops jingle said:

Oh, the pops are sweeter
and the taste is new
They’re shot with sugar,
through and through.

Mister B loved the Sugar Pops, while Mister B’s sister was a Frosted Flakes and Smacks fan. Suffice it to say, our house was a real sugar shack at the breakfast table. Even Mister B’s family dog got into the act. When Mister B had consumed his portion of the golden nuggets, the remaining milk in the bowl was an eerie pool of sweet, unnatural yellow. The dog, a good-sized German Shorthair, would climb one of the vinyl-seated chairs within reach and lick the milk right out of the bowl until we shooed him away.

About the same time we were being marketed to with catchy jingles and cartoon characters on the sugar cereal front, the debate grew on water fluoridation. Though it had existed in some areas since 1951, now it was coming to our neck of the woods. By 1960, it was in wide use. The American Dental Association and a host of others backed the fluoridation as a way of improving overall dental health. Others saw it as an unnatural addition and a danger to the water supply. Certainly, post World War II was a time for dental health awareness, as annual cleanings in schools became the norm. Was it a way to combat the cavities that would result from the widespread consumption of sugar-coated cereals? Compared to the diets of many of today’s youngsters, ours would have been considered outright healthy, yet we did get our share of cavities. Who knows? It may have been a symbiotic relationship that helped both industries to grow right along with us.

In the end, water fluoridation won out in many areas — including Mister B’s — and the practice continues in about 65 percent of the country today. Toothpaste commercials cropped up to remind us we would “wonder where the yellow went.” Crest, Colgate and Pepsodent were the big brands in our area. They say people tend to take their toothpaste choices right on into adulthood. Mister B can’t say the sugar cereals fared as well. Somehow Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes and Honey Smacks haven’t grabbed our children’s attention with the same heft that it did to our generation.

Today it looks like the sugar battle is poised to return with sugar as the good guy, or at least the better guy, as high-fructose corn syrup has surpassed the volume of sugar in cereals and kept on going to permeate practically every form of processed food we boomers and our families eat. But now, PepsiCo has released Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback for a limited run. These soda pops will be made with sugar rather than corn syrup. How about it boomers, will the taste be sweeter and everything old is new again? And how about it, American Dental Association? Will Pepsi Throwback earn the ADA seal of approval?

How Do You Know if You Are a Boomer?

The U.S. Census Bureau definition states the Boomer Generation is composed of those individuals born in the post World War II era between 1946 and 1964. Yet we all know there’s more to being a baby boomer than that. It’s a state of mind, man, one that we all have to wrap our heads around, you dig? We span three decades and are as different from one another as Swiss cheese and lobster bibs. Yet we shared something that’s helped shape the very world we live in today. We were the first younger generation demographic that was targeted by marketers in the Golden Age of Television. We created a culture — nay, a counter-culture — that changed everything that happened before. But mostly we grew up respecting each other enough to agree to disagree on things like who was the true inventor of the Clapper.

If you have any doubt that you are, in fact, a boomer, let this list be your guide. A quick perusal can help you discover that, you may be a boomer if…

  • You had a starburst clock in your living room.
  • You had a folding card table and matching chairs — that probably came from S&H Green Stamps … or Top Value … or Gold Bell.
  • You were ever a passenger in a Studebaker or Hudson Hornet.
  • Your first car cost less than $200.
  • You know who Mr. Peabody and Sherman were.
  • You — or your sister — had a beehive hairdo.
  • Your parents always kept a bottle of gin in the house.
  • You “knew” what the L.S.M.F.T. meant on the bottom of the pack of Lucky Strikes.
  • You recall taking used light bulbs back to the Con Ed store, where they gave you free replacements.
  • You owned a black & white TV.
  • You went to the drug store to get replacement tubes for your TV.
  • You ever sent away 25 cents in coin and two box tops for a toy.
  • You made your own Halloween costumes.
  • You had a Draft number.
  • You ate “Fizzies.”
  • You developed a taste for Swanson — or Banquet — Salisbury Steak.
  • Your McDonald’s building had golden arches.
  • You had TV trays in front of the TV.
  • You wore a hat in your annual Easter family photo.
  • You ever taped a coin to the arm of your record player.
  • You discovered that Spoolies actually worked as advertised.
  • You wore a Nehru jacket in public.
  • You had your own 2 transistor radio.
  • You paid $75 for a calculator that could add, subtract, multiply and divide.

… and so on, and so on… What’s your definition?