My mother is a rational woman. Freakishly rational. I rarely got grounded as a kid, only got yelled at when I was really being a jerk and even now, in my adult life, exert a lot of energy trying to get my mom to match my level of emotion and anger over the things I am irrationally angry and emotional about.
Here she is in all of her adorably earnest glory:
This woman, with her at times frustratingly cool-calm-and-collectedness, shies away from preaching her politics on Facebook. She'd rather beat you in a game of Candy Crush than crush you in a heated debate.
But there is one thing that boils her blood, sets her off into a frenzy of emotion from which no person nor product is safe. It's obscure, absurd and just slightly troubling.
You see, for as long as I can remember, my mother has hated animated, talking food.
The mere mention of a personified vegetable sends her into a panic. Early memories of quickly changing the channel while she averted her eyes and waited for the evil talking M&M's commercial to "go away" come to mind.
So, when Kellogg's debuted its "Crazy Good" Pop-Tarts commercials, in which animated Pop-Tarts get themselves into some less-than-ideal scenarios (read: getting eaten), to say my sweet, mellow mom was less than pleased would be, well, a gross understatement.
One of the many commercials tormenting my mom's soul.
Unfortunately for Kellogg's (and fortunately for everyone else), the internet exists, making it easy as pie (or, for the sake of this story, pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts) to reach the mastermind behind the ads.
"Can you please tell me why the pop tarts commercial is on every other minute?," she wrote. "It's the one where animated pop tarts are waiting to have their 'photo' taken in a photo booth that's actually a toaster!!! It's BEYOND disturbing and most likely will prevent me from every buying pop tarts ever again."
Oof. Scathing. I should pause here to note that my mother -- who after sending this note swore she "stopped seeing so many of the commercials" -- has never and likely will never purchase Pop-Tarts. Ever.
In a twist that should shock no one, years went by and Kellogg's did not, in fact, change its entire marketing strategy on my mother's behalf.
Fast forward to Wednesday, June 15, 2016 -- just a few days ago. I am minding my own business at work when it happens. A forwarded message from my mom appears in my inbox, subject line: "FWD: Kellogg Consumer Affairs Reference Number (omitted for privacy, LOL)."
"ooooops, I did it again! lol lol lol,"she wrote. And there it was: A brand spanking new letter of complaint to Kellogg's.
This time, the gloves were off.
"i HATE your commercials!," she cried wrote. "Why do you insist on animating food and then making it get hurt, eaten, toasted, lost and devoured?? it's very disturbing!! from the baby pop tart in the nursery to the pop tarts being LURED into a toaster after getting lost, who ever is coming up with these campaigns has lost it!!!!
(No, the irony of declaring that anyone besides her has "lost it" here is not lost on me). As if it weren't already clear, she signed it:
"I HATE YOUR COMMERCIALS!!"
Enter Curt C., consumer specialist for Kellogg's, who deserves the Nobel Peace Price for his ability to handle this borderline threatening manifesto with the utmost grace and professionalism.
"Viewer reaction, such as yours, is helpful to us and taken into consideration when developing future advertisements," he wrote. "Your concerns have been forwarded to the appropriate company officials and we hope future ads for this and our other products will be more acceptable to you."
For the record, I have tried to get ahold of Curt C. myself -- to no avail. If you're out there, Curt, just know -- I'd share my second Pop-Tart with you any day. (Unless it's a s'mores one, those are all for me).
I decided to finally, after all these years, in the name of journalism, ask what exactly it is about talking food that peeves her so. While she admitted she "can't actually pinpoint the exact time and place" she started hating talking food, she knows that she does. "It just freaks me out. It may have started with the M&M's," she said.
She did, however, offer one potential explanation:
"When I was a kid, my dad took me to a fancy seafood restaurant. He took me to look at the lobster tank and told me that they become alive in your belly! Hmmmmm, perhaps THAT's how it started!"
To be honest, I'm not sure I see the correlation between lobsters coming alive inside of you and M&M's freaking out over Santa Claus.
But hey, everyone's got their thing, right?