Make your own free website on


from Eddie #3 1992

by J. Underwood

You've got to hand it to them, they've got it all worked out. At least they figure they do. Allow me to expose them.
From the late Fifties through to the mid-Seventies the powers that be undertook the most diabolical of experiments into mass manipulation and infantile mind control not seen since. Using the Collected Cereal Companies Ass. (long known as a front for covert government operations) they insidiously introduced into public consciousness what was to have major repercussions for an unknown percentage of the population. I know. I was unwittingly involved and caught up in what they code-named Operation: C.R.I.T.T.E.R. (Cereal Reality Implant Terminals to Enslave Reactionaries.)
From the age of three I have been in the palm of their collective hand, slowly squeezed and drawn further into their dark clutches. How many others?
My mother went away when I was three on what appeared to be a appeared to be a normal visit to her family overseas. Left alone with our father, we quickly took control of the weekly groceries, tripling our intake of the highly addictive, sugar filled cereals of the time. Ricicles, Strawberry Pops, Jaffa Pops, Froot Loops, Frosties, Honey Smacks and of course Coco Pops all became our staple diet. Driven on in our hyperactive frenzy, we added even more sugar and consumed our own body weight weekly to get to the true source of addiction: the Critters.
My first taste was of a little group called "the Deep Sea Band.", A seemingly innocent addition to breakfast, a small plastic toy in the shape of an anthropomorphised fish or turtle playing a musical instrument. King Neptune, Mermaids, crabs and clams became the objects of my unceasing preschool desire, "More cereal Dad! We need more cereal!" I would endlessly cry. Even then I knew I couldn't let on; I was a Critter addict. I was drawn to their colour sure. Their bright untouched appearance and humorous animal features were appealing too and yet there was something more, something that seemed toget inside my head and come to life. My Critters became more than my friends, they were my interface with consumer reality.
Like all good "Dealers" they made it all too easy to score at first, the early Critters were loosely sticky-taped to the outside of the carton, provocatively crying to passing nimble young hands, while casually accompanying Mother or Father down the magical Cereal Aisle to free them.
Then they upped the ante. They teasingly displayed the complete series on the of the carton and included, surreptitioiusly, a random fix individually wrapped in it's own cellophane bag at the bottom of the of the sucrose soaked cereal. Every addict knows the feeling of desire. To blatantly play uponthe secret, aching wants of a young mind is truly a despicable act.
I could see the one I wanted. I could almost feel the solid, sensual, synthetic form in my tiny hand but I'll be damned if I could acquire it. Every breakfast became a familiar, repetitive scene as sad as any drug-crazed desperate out of his depth, "Ooooh! I've got this one! Dad! We need more cereal!"
Sure, the old man was easy enough to dupe but when the little Iron lady came back my habit was considerably reduced and I had to resort to, how should I say, less legal alternatives.
Our next door neighbour, barely out of his crib, had a very healthy Critter habit of his own - courtesy of his neurotic mother. Too healthy a habit some may say.
"Hello! Is anyone home?" I cried out in expectation as I crawled through their laundry window. I quickly made my way to the stash above his playpen, "I'm doing the kid a favour," I convinced myself and loaded up my duffle bag with my hoist. His was mainly a collection of very hard to come by Tooly-birds and Mad Dawgs. Very tasty.
As luck would have it, his strung up mother was on to me faster than a Snap! Crackle! Pop! but not before I could assimilate the stolen goods into my steadily growing arsenal under the bed. "You haven't seen any of Jason's Critters have you?" she openly confronted me. I quickly went in to my "Hey, I'm just an innocent four year old, what do I know about grand larceny" routine. But I was sprung. Luckily she had no idea what was missing - the fool, and readily accepted whatever junky bits of plastic I offered her in return.
I did 'em all: Space-Nits, Vegetable Sports, Crazy Pirates, Crazy Critters, Society 200 even dabbling in Stretch Pets and Totems but I kept well away from the clip together madness of the Zoo Choo Train or the Walking Farmyard and never sank to the depths of the artificial china "Dutch Girlie" trips all the old grannies seemed to be hooked on. I became a two-bit stoolie for my brothers and their friends, they'd help me to score if I'd do lolly runs and other menial fielding tasks for them. I was always at hand, I had no pride. My Critters weren't just my best friends they were the most necessary of links in the Zoo Choo Train of my childhood psyche. Their voices, nay their complete personalities, flourished in my head; presenting me with dilemmas, answers, intuitive learning capabilities, helping me with problems real and imagined and most of all, making me aware of my omnipotent power as a major Critter deity.
It was my unnatural connection to "Bubbles", from the mysterious set known to me now only as "the Inges", that caused me to cotton on to the International Espionage I was embroiled in. Bubbles was a delicate little lime green number who, as his name suggests, looked as if he was made of bubbles. He was second in command of all my Critter adventures and an integral part in all of the psychic plastic mini-dramas that took place over the years.
One morning I awoke and found Bubbles missing. I was broken and hit the space-food sticks.
It wasn't until that Christmas that he enigmatically turned up in the Christmas decoration box, how he got in there was anyone's guess. My joy at his reunion was all too brief, for before we could even be properly re-acquainted he once again disappeared.
It was then that I realised the true futility of life. Not only was one of my most prized possessions no more than a fading fluorescent memory, his absence caused me to understand one of the most blatant and cruel jokes of this whole Critter episode; I could never, never, not ever mind you, have them all!
Critters began to lose their hold over me; or did they?

They started winding down Operation C.R.I.T.T.E.R. until Critter production came to a grinding halt in the late seventies.
What caused such a dramatic turn around for what had been such a sure-fire winner for the cereal moguls of the day? I believe the whole exercise was planned from the start with a limited shelf life designed to draw a projected amount of people into the web of the powers that be. Here's how I gradually realised I had become a cog in a most deceptive, grisly machine. During my high school years I continued to have an active involvement with my Critters. Some say my personality defects began to manifest predominantly after my first Critter cold turkey. I mean, where does an addict go when their supply is cut off? To the law? To the Press? No, hang down your head poor obsessed one and keep your dark secrets to yourself. What hope could any scholastic institution give me after having had my very purpose and soul carved out of me like a potato stamp.
I went into remission for a few years and had all but forgotten my tortured past when I moved into a dishevelled share house in the inner west. One day while chatting idly, I discovered my housemate had a few Critters of her own still stashed away. The old frothy, desperate feeling of yore came flooding back like a chocolate milkshake, only crunchy, and I continually pleaded with her to share her hidden wealth. Her remittance was all too familiar, there was as little chance of getting her to part with her, until now, forgotten treasures as there was of her getting me to part with mine. There was no logical, rational excuse for her not to give them to me and yet I knew not to push her too hard else she snap. I recognized myself in this driven individual and wondered how many more of us there were. She moved out soon after, accidently leaving her "box of precious" behind. Gloating, I disposed of it behind the couch but upon a chance return visit, was hit with such strong pangs of guilt I confessed to her my crime. Sure that my honesty would be deserved of a small, Critter reward, I was shocked when she casually accepted her box and walked off.
I started to smell a rat. The robotic, obviously manipulated actions of my former house-mate led me to re-examine my own life and wonder if I had not been drawn along on life's thread by a certain cereal company. I decided to go straight to the source.
I wrote to Kellogg's and told them I was an undergraduate marketing student that was interested in the "Inserts" or "Premiums" as they called them and wanted access to their further my research.
My request was met with dull rebuttal. They sent me charts, graphs and some weak excuses. "I'm afraid the Inserts of which you speak were discontinued because our competitors could divert our market by introducing a new novelty item more interesting than ours." Hearing her refer so coldly and inhumanly about the "inserts" was bad enough but the final, most calculating insult was yet to come.
"We trust the shiny metal 'Snap' badge we have included will more than make up for the Premiums of old you have requested."
I knew then they were trying to put me off the scent. I rang the public relations dept of Kellogg's and, disguising my voice, asked it could come out to photograph their archives of Critters. "No you can't!" the horsey sounding woman on the other end of the line protested, "They've all um... been destroyed. Yes, that's it, destroyed, we don't have any out here and you can't come and see them anyway." click...
I slowly continued my investigations, injecting a quick mention of Critters into casual conversations to see how people reacted. Most, predictably feigned ignorance.
In 1990 I played my major hand.
Monday, March 26th, Sydney Morning Herald ran this piece in Column 8 ....... "Anyone remember those little plastic Critters found in cereal boxes during the early 1970's? An Annandale reader, who was refused help by the cereal companies, is searching for them to help him in his research into the psychology of childhood memories. Call John on 660**** if you can help."
It was of course me, cleverly employing another cover.
That weekend countless calls flooded in from well-meaning grannies, parents in charge of their children's belongings and various other sections of the community. All were anxious to communicate their experiences and tell of their favourite Critter and discuss how their collection was pride of place on the family mantle. Out of the hundreds of calls I recieved, only six people were willing to part with their Critters. I offered rediculous sums of money and still had no success.
"Give them to you! No fear mate, I love my Critters!" or: "Ohhh... listen eh sonny, my Critters and me we've seen a lot of good times together, I eh don't think I could part with them now."
One kindly gentleman sent me a parcel of Crater Critters, a most valuable find. I wept for sweet Jesus as I pulled them out one by one. I found this note attached:
"Dear John, I was once a long term shift worker at Kellogg's and had access to all of their Critter files. It would be more dangerous than worth it to disclose the true nature of the so-called "Promotions Novelties" to you. Leave well enough alone. They have been after me for a year or so now to return any outstanding Critters I may still possess, some of those I have sent to you lest they should get them all but I have to by and large comply with their demands. You don't understand. It is too complicated for the likes of you. Get out while you still can ........ "

Here I shall now lay down the outline of the Great Critter Conspiracy as put together over my many years in the business.
The C.C.C.A, itself a front for big business, corrupt government interests and organised crime, decided during the late fifties to begin planting subconscious messages into the public domain which would give continued control of the amassed consumer rank and file and maintain their monetary monopoly over the so called free world. They had to do this in such a way that no-one would suspect what they were doing and they had to get in where it counts: The Children of Capitalism. If they could introduce archetypal, consumer images into the collected children's buying market, imbue these "characters", outwardly innocent, with unconscious triggering powers, get them out there, create a demand, withdraw the items when the sufficient threshold has been reached and then allow the intricate workings of the child mind to be somehow jammed like a shaky television reception they could have the majority of the population in their grasp.
I can personally attest to this theory, (although 'factual deductions' seems more appropriate) and have nervous jitters whenever I enter a supermarket and have to head straight to the cereal aisle where, perhaps even now, I receive subliminal messages from "Them."
"Tastes like fruit and goes crunch to boot!" What does that really mean?
I recently met up with an underground Critter dealer in a shady backland store in Melbourne. He seemed to have a vast working knowledge of Critters and was probably an ex-agent. He avoided any conversation with me until he realised I was on to him. He then slipped me his mobile number and told me to call back at a later date. I did so and he explained he was in the middle of "a big U.S. deal" and might still be able to help me out but was shipping the large part of his collection over to the states,"where, they are appreciated." I have spoken to him on several other occasions and he is always sheepish and non-commital, "Don't ask questions, send the money and you'll get what you want."

I will not stop my search to find the real inner machinations behind this phenomenon, I don't think I could if i wanted to. It is time the Big Brothers of this world stopped and took notice of the little person in the street and realised we are not the unthinking puppets they might like to pretend we are. And please remember: The simple things in life are often the most dangerous, make a stand against multi-media manipulation! I am still searching for "Bubbles."


"Encounters with Critterholics"
from Eddie #6 1993

by J. Underwood

In Eddie #3 I contributed an article dealing with the heinous manipulation of fragile young minds by corrupt conspirators. Since going to print I have come into contact with a number of interesting individuals and present this postscript to those of you who may be interested.

Firstly, I would like to point out that in my fifteen years of research I had yet to come face to face with another suffering from a similar affliction to myself. So it was with some surprise, soon after the completion of my article that I met "M". We were introduced by a common friend and made such smalltalk as is expected between new aquaintances. It was only after sometime that I noticed a gold chain around M's neck and it's attachment; a striking, light blue critter from the Inges, previously unknown to me. My insight into M was immediate and I recognised a familiar air of quiet meloncholy around him. I commented on his adornment, merely to check he was aware of its significance. He blushed and his hand moved to cover his throat, I assured him he was not to worry and that I understood his predicament. We agreed to rendezvous at a later date.
My second meeting with M was most productive. He maintained a small but well cared for collection of critters and we both made some worthwhile transactions. Yet there was something here far more important than the accruement of critters. After twenty four years this was lily first contact with another critter freak. We spoke for sometime and although we sat in a cold and deserted warehouse, our hearts were warmed in the knowledge of finding a like soul.
A couple of months after this meeting in fact only a few days prior to today, I received a phone call from ananxious, yet still polite young man -"S".
"I am so glad to have finally reached you," he told me. "It has taken some time to track you down. I've got to talk to you about your article. I do hope I'm not out of line but first, please you've got to tell me, do you have "Axe", the Tooly Bird? "Why yes," I replied still dazed. "Then you might be interested to discover that at this moment in my hot little hand I hold none other than... "Bubbles!" I fell down onto the bed, my head reeling, could it be true, after so long? Bubbles! Dear, sweet polyurethane perfection!
We met the next day. I recognised S by the second grade school satchel that he held at his side and we sat down to business. S told me a friend, "R" had held him down and read to him my article. With every paragraph S's eyes grew wider and wider. He had wondered if it was not about his own life lie was reading.
"I have been hooked on Tooly-Birds ever since I can remember," S explained to me. "I had almost the whole set, I only needed a few more pieces, yet my life was a constant struggle. I have made good in a well to do position and in all material matters been successful yet my happiness was seemingly attached to the contents of my second grade school case. I met a woman that said she could fix me up with the missing Toolies. She came good and overjoyed I rushed home to gloat. How shortlived is glory! When I arrived home and counted I found one missing. Where was Axe?"
S was unsure how the missing piece had disappeared. "Just flown the coop," he said sniffling a little.
I comforted him and before he broke into tears drew out my only Axe-bird and gave it to him. He appeared immediately restored.
Then came the moment I had been waiting for. S took something from his pocket and placed it in my hand. At last I was reunited with Bubbles. Of course this could never replace my original Bubbles, it was the wrong colour, yet still this was a joyous day.
We spoke for hours. S told me how he too had been bluntly rebuffed by Kellogg's and of a mysterious encounter one day in an elevator. S found himself alone in a lift one day with a man dressed in black. He recognized the man as an old school chum who was, surprise, surprise, now working in the marketing department of Kellogg's. Although at the time seemingly happy to assist S, when S called him the next day at work he was met by a gruff secretary who assured him she would pass on S's message. After four more days and four more calls S decided to give up, he had played this game of cat and mouse one too many times.
We parted, agreeing to meet in a few months to pass on any further strange stories.

This, however was not to be the last of my amazing meetings.
That very night while at a friend's house I recounted the above tale of wonderment and was met with a nonplussed look from friend's brother,"J". Without speaking he went to a cupboard and produced a red plastic bag which he proceeded to empty onto the floor. From it tumbled hundreds of coloured objects. I was almost dazzled by their brilliance. Like two reunited lovers we smiled and laughed and fingered with the treasure. "J, I never knew!", I said when we had calmed down.
J began to tell me his life as a critterholic and passed on some interesting points which although unverified by me at this time, I shall mention anyway. Apparently in the Inges (or "Fringes" as J called them) there were hidden two Gold Critters, a Malvern Star was to be collected by their lucky finders. These gold critters were the Holy Grail for all critterholics. One of J's friends (possibly colour-blind) had stolen J's favorite critter thinking it to be the Goldern Prize. To make sure of his latest possession the thief inserted the said critter into his anal orifice. Needless to say the said critter was somehow retrieved by J.
"It still has some stains on it to prove of its ordeal, " noted J. I retired to bed that night supremely satisfied, knowing that there were at least two others willing to step forward and confront their past.

I would finally like to briefly mention a mysterious phone call, although unfortunately I am limited in the amount of information I can pass on at this time. Late one night I was disturbed by a call from a very official voice warning me to back off and stop my research. He said he was aware of my involvement in the C.C.C. and that they were taking measures to put an end to this organisation.
To my knowledge the C.C.C. is merely a legend. The Covert Critter Collective are reportedly a group of critterholics in powerful positions who are trying to let the public in on the whole critter sham. At the time of this writing I have not been contacted or been in contact with anyone claiming to be affiliated with this group and am still unsure as to the authenticity of its existence.
I shall keep you informed.