On a more serious note, I feel very fortunate to have worked for Stadler for 2� years and I'm pleased to know the man behind the mustache. He's one of the kindest, most considerate individuals I've ever met.
JOSEPH M. BRENNAN
I enjoyed every spoonful of Steve Wulf's article Famous Flakes of America (April 5). It brought back memories of my growing up in Minneapolis, where eating your Wheaties was as much a morning ritual as washing your face and brushing your teeth.
I fondly recall the Wheaties Knothole Gang of the '30s, which Wulf didn't mention. Ten cents and a Wheaties boxtop were all you needed to be in the Saturday afternoon Knothole Gang that occupied seats far down the leftfield line at Nicollet Park in the days when Joe Hauser was hitting all those home runs. A noisier group of kids you've never heard. We not only cheered Hauser but also Andy Cohen, Spencer Harris, Walter Tauscher, Rosy Ryan, Buzz Arlett, Babe Ganzel and, in the late '30s, Ted Williams.
In the winter of 1949-50, having grown up a little, I worked at the Minneapolis Auditorium as the public address announcer for the Minneapolis Lakers. One night all of the nearly 10,000 seats were filled for General Mills Night. At halftime, I had the pleasure of introducing the Wheaties Quartet for what was probably its last live performance. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd.
History, I hope, hasn't really forgotten their names, as your photo caption claimed. For the record, they were—from left to right in your picture—Bill Elliot, William Oppenrath, Ernest Johnson and Phillip C. Schmidt. In addition to singing the Wheaties jingle, this quartet had its own CBS radio network show in the '30s called The Gold Medal Fast Freight Program, in which these four men huffed and puffed and sang their way to national prominence.
About a year after that night at the Lakers' game, I was hired as a promotions executive working on the Wheaties brand at Knox Reeves. I remember one thing we did was mail to all the radio stations in America a Wheaties Welcomes Back Baseball package, which included a bottle of Coca-Cola, a bag of Fisher's salted-in-the-shell peanuts, a scorecard and a pencil. It was designed to get radio stations to promote Wheaties-sponsored programs, capitalizing on the brand's long association with baseball, and it produced marvelous results.
Premium offers, like the Jack Armstrong hike-o-meter, which Wulf mentioned, were still big in the early '50s. However, with Wheaties all but out of baseball by then and the heroics of Jack Armstrong virtually unknown to a new generation of postwar youngsters, the challenge for Knox Reeves was to develop a premium offer that could top the hike-o-meter and the fabulously successful Atomic Bomb ring that had worked so well for Cheerios and Kix, the other two cold cereal brands of General Mills.
The answer came in the form of miniature license plates replicating each state's, which could be obtained for a boxtop and a small amount of change. At first, Wheaties' loyalists scorned the idea as a last hurrah for a once-proud brand, but it took hold and became a mighty success. It showed that young Wheaties' eaters were still willing to be champions of a sort, munching through 48 boxes of the stuff to get a full set of license plates. Had General Mills waited a few years, it would have been 50.
ROBERT N. WOLD
Chairman and President
Robert Wold Company, Inc.