I received the most fascinating email in response to this article, in which I complained about the expansion of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries from red to a variety of colors of crunchberries that do not actually appear in nature.
Here is the email:
Sir, I must confess that I was part of the nefarious plot to turn crunch berries various colors instead of the pure red they once were. I was working at a marketing research company that had Quaker Oats as a client back in 1989 when the change came. Our research team was issued questionnaires, and two different styles of Cap’n Crunch cereal; one with multicolored berries one with pure red. We found various willing respondents with the necessary demographic qualifications, then gave them two boxes of cereal. Each box was a blank white carton. One said A the other said B. A had original crunchberries while B had the new style. After two weeks, we called each respondent and asked which they preferred, using a standardized questionnaire. The multicolored berries won out by a two to one margin of preference. Thus it was that the red berries went the way of the Edsel and New Coke, into the bin of marketing history. Sir, if I had only known the damage I was causing to an icon of American culture, I swear to you I would have deliberately skewed the data, and not let the horrible results, such as they were, happen. I am ashamed of my lack of foresight, and my failure to act based upon such trivial details as “truthfulness” and “contracts.” I do repent.
However, some good came of it. At the end of the study, we had about ten cases of Cap’n Crunch left over. We called the client and the man at Quaker Oats told us to destroy the test product instead of sending it back. As an assistant manager of the company, I was, therefore, able to take home 200 boxes of Cap’n Crunch for my family. We got so sick of the stuff we have not bought a box since.