John Bartus

“It’s not just for breakfast any more!” The Florida Orange Juice Growers (or more likely, their ad agency) created this slogan to try to expand the orange juice market from the confines of morning meal consumers and screwdriver drinkers. I’m not sure how well the campaign worked, but the slogan sure survived. And it brought me to this relatively inconsequential and non-tangential breakfast place that we are about to explore. Come along!

Nutritionists have stated for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many of them also stated with a straight face for years that a high-carb low-fat diet would help a person lose weight. Be that as it may…

If breakfast is the most important meal, then my favorite breakfast of strong black coffee must mean that I am a Coffee Achiever. After all, coffee is the drink that calms you down and picks you up – giving you the serenity to dream it and the vitality to do it (actual slogans from an actual 1983 commercial from the National Coffee Association). The commercial – immortalized on YouTube – is a complete 30-second time capsule of the 1980s … on caffeine, if you will.

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes are G-R-R-R-E-E-A-A-T-T-T!!!! Many people consider Wheaties to be “the breakfast of champions.” Shredded Wheat was called the “Niagara Falls Cereal.” And Quaker Puffed Rice used to proudly proclaim that it was “Shot from Guns!”

Was it just me, or did Cap’n Crunch seem a little tipsy in his TV commercials? And then, this distant relative of Captain Morgan seemingly moved on to the harder stuff, those pseudo-psychedelic Crunch Berries. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that all the people who came up with cereal concepts like Boo-Berry, Franken-Berry, Count Chocula, Lucky Charms and Froot Loops were tripping their brains out back in the 1960s. I will, however, offer up a few examples for reflection and (not too) deep thought: Quisp and Quake – these two cereals started a breakfast feud back in the mid-1960s that only made the Quaker Oat Company the winner. Trix and Cocoa Puffs – both featured animal mascots, but with a major difference. The Trix Silly Rabbit was always denied (“Trix are for kids!”), while Sonny the Cuckoo Bird would go into crazy convulsions after eating a bite of his cereal. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, indeed! 

And the number one reason I think the cereal makers and marketers were (at the barest minimum) having spiked three-martini lunches was the otherwise totally inexplicable concept and ad campaign for Freakies Cereal. The full-length original animated commercial, complete with the Freakies song and characters like Boss Moss and Cowmumble, lives on YouTube and can be seen by those not old enough to remember the psychedlic marketing of nutritionally empty sugar products. It bears mentioning that Freakies came into existence during the Nixon administration.

Switching gears … A popular breakfast in Mexico is a dish called chilaquiles. This nutritious day-starter consists of a plate of tortilla chips covered in red or green sauce with cheese and onions, often accompanied by a side of frijoles (refried beans). Nachos for breakfast – who knew? ¿El desayuno de campeones?

In Thailand, presumably when martial law is not in effect, they enjoy a dish made with minty spicy fish combined with sweet spicy pork and served with rice. Yum. There’s Marmite in the UK and Vegemite in the land down under – both allegedly great on toast … if you like salty slimy toast. In Bangladesh, siri paya is a stew made from feet and heads of cows and goats – literal brain food that can help you get a leg up on the new day. The Australian aborigine eats eggs for breakfast – raw crocodile eggs. But there’s probably nothing that tops cuy, a breakfast favorite in Bolivia and Peru. Cuy is, well, barbecued guinea pig. 

Personally, I’ll stick with the black coffee.

– Catch John live Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, this Friday and Saturday at Isla Bella Resort, and Sundays at Skipjack Tiki Bar. Find his music anywhere you download or stream your music. •

John Bartus
Very few towns or cities could ever claim that their Mayor was a smokin' hot guitar player. The island city of Marathon in the Florida Keys is one of those towns. While politics is a temporary call to service, music is a life sentence. John Bartus, a more-than-four-decade full-time professional musician, singer, and songwriter, continues to raise the bar with his groundbreaking solo acoustic show. It’s easy to catch John on one of his more than 200 shows a year throughout the Keys on his Perpetual Island Tour. His CD releases include After The Storm, Keys Disease 10th Anniversary Remaster, and Live From the Florida Keys Vol. 2. John’s music is available wherever you download or stream your music.