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
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
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
"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
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