King Vitaman helped invent the 8-Track
- Blog Post by: James Lileks
- March 12, 2013 - 12:14 PM
Neatorama has the history of sugared cereals. I don’t know why; it’s not as if anyone uncovered some secret archives that detail the plot to cover everything you have before noon with a glaze of sweetness. But it does veer into the early days of dextrose-drenched morning foods, including Post’s version of sugared Corn Flakes, Corn-Fetti. At first it terrified rival Kellogg. But then:
It wasn't long before Kellogg realized that Corn-Fetti wasn't selling. "It was a disaster," says an industry expert. "The flakes were hardened with this beautiful, clear-candy coating. But it was so insoluble, it would cut your mouth all up like glass."
Instead of fixing the Corn-Fetti formula and reintroducing it immediately, General Foods began an exhaustive, time-consuming product testing process. "We were all so frustrated with the situation," recalls Post's art director at the time. "While we had our sales force standing in line to reintroduce Corn-Fetti, they continued to test and test market …until finally the competition stole the idea.
The competition was, of course, Sugar-Frosted Flakes.
Ah, mouth-shredding cereal. I remember that:
But here’s a tale. Take a look at that fellow on the box; try not to think about the spoons on his crown. Who was he? George Mann. What did he do earlier in life? This.
He was half of “Barto and Mann,” a vaudeville duo. The rode the genre to its conclusion, did a stint in “Hellzapoppin,” then broke up. Barto had a daughter: Nancy Walker, aka Rhoda’s Mother, also Rosie in the Bounty Towel ads. Mann went on to tinker:
In the late 1940s, George began a period of invention, first designing and obtaining a patent for an endless magnetic loop recording and playback devise, elements of which were later incorporated into the Lear Jet Stereo 8 track cartridge player. George and Bill Lear became close friends after George introduced Bill to his future wife, Ole Olsen’s daughter Moya. George next turned his inventive and mechanical skills to designing a 3-D viewer that would display the 3-D photographs he was taking, mostly around Southern California. He leased the viewers to various Los Angeles businesses, including Hody's Drive-Ins, other restaurants, bars and doctor's offices.
But he didn’t just do 3D; he also toured the town with a sackful of Kodachrome. According to the Los Angeles Visionaries Association:
George Mann just might be the most interesting Los Angeles photographer you’ve never heard of. His color scenes of the lost Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, taken just before it was demolished fifty years ago in a misguided urban renewal project, have transformed our understanding of downtown.
Took a while, but eventually the pages lead to the George Mann Archive. and a site devoted to keeping the memory of a bygone neighborhood alive. Why should anyone care about a neighborhood in Los Angeles razed decades ago? No reason - but if you like old movies, Bunker Hill was the backdrop for just about every crime tale told in the 40s and 50s.
King Vitaman died in 1977. Here he was in 1972.
Actual intelligent YouTube comment: “That kid ate that cereal dry? How long did it take doctors to fix the roof of his mouth?”
By the way, what’s the difference between a “collector” and someone who shows up on “Hoarders”? Organization.
IN RUSSIA, BUS DRIVES YOU That doesn’t realy make sense, but the Yakov Smirnoff construction is obligatory when the subject is Russia. Meet the Punisher: a bus driver who deals with Russia’s innumerable bad drivers by driving them into curbs or other immovable objects.
By the way, Smirnoff’s real name was Pokhis, and he was born in Ukraine. He is also a painter:
SCIENCE! Speaking of misleading headlines: “Astrobiologists discover fossils in meteorite fragments, confirming extraterrestrial life.” That would seem to be news, no?
Yes. But no. Slate takes apart the case of the Space Diatoms.
So: Extreme Tech goes on the list of sites you can safety disregard as a place that overhypes things ? It seems an odd decision for Ziff-Davis, which isn’t exactly new to the publishing world.
And that’s why I said King Vitamin helped invent the 8-track, instead of the more sensational King Vitaman Invented the 8-Track.
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