When I was growing up, I remember my dad eating Grape Nuts almost every morning. I tried them on occasion and could never understand the appeal—I also found the name confusing, as they were neither grapes nor nuts. I do however think of them fondly, because they remind me of sitting at breakfast with my dad (I usually ate a slice of cheese toast, fresh from the toaster oven, every morning. Yum!).
I also vaguely remember those Grape Nuts commercials from the early 1970s featuring nature-man spokesperson Euell Gibbons. The commercials featured Euell in various outdoor settings, harvesting and sometimes eating various plants—cattails, highbush cranberries, and more. He'd then sit down outdoors, pour a bowl of Grape Nuts, and start eating them. He'd pause mid-way and say, "Its naturally sweet taste reminds me of wild hickory nuts."
MeTV provides some information about Euell:
Euell Theophilus Gibbons had been a hobo, beachcomber, boat builder, cowboy, communist, carpenter, 36-year-old college freshman, and Quaker. He led a fascinating life, but it was his fascinating diet that brought him fame.
In 1962, Gibbons published Stalking the Wild Asparagus, a book on the wonders of foraging for natural foods. Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop and Stalking the Healthful Herbs quickly followed, as the fifty-something naturalist became a pop-culture phenomenon. He had hippie appeal, but it was hard to pin such a rugged wanderer to the hippie movement. He helped kick-start the health-food movement in America.
Euell's Grape Nuts commercials were also often parodied by comedians, which isn't hard to imagine if you've seen any of them. MeTV explains:
In the fall of 1973, The Carol Burnett Show welcomed regular guest John Byner. Near the end of his episode, Byner put on bushy white eyebrows, a wild wig, flannel shirt, and bandana. "Ever lick a river?" he asked.
This fellow was not-so-subtly named "Yule Twibbons." He also began by asking, "You ever eat a pine tree?"… before going on to pop questions like, "Ever suck on a sunflower?" and "Ever try eating some pebbles?"
That's pretty funny stuff. You know what else is funny? The fact that Grape Nuts still exist. Here's their tagline: "Climb your personal mountain with a bowl of Grape-Nuts cereal." The Grape Nuts website goes on to explain: "Grape-Nuts cereal has been a breakfast tradition for American families since 1897. Get to know our iconic, versatile cereal and how it supports today's active lifestyle."
Clearly they still have a lot of fans! They even have a "Super Fan" Facebook page you can join—it's called, naturally, "Grape Nuts Super Fans." Next time I talk to my dad I'll ask him if he still eats them for breakfast every morning, and will tell him about the Super Fans page.