During a recent Rust Belt road trip, I picked up an enduring memory that I wish I could forget.
It had nothing to do with the region’s flat terrain, which made possible vast, big sky-topped landscapes, which I enjoyed visiting, or its flat, going-nowhere economy, which made me feel right at home.
It had everything to do with Oprah.
By luck of the draw, within a few minutes of turning on a motel room television at the end of a day on the road, there she was, urging folks to try one of her cauliflower-crusted “O, That’s Good” frozen pizzas.
I had actually tried one of her uncured pepperoni pizzas with the one-third cauliflower crust a couple of months ago, without her encouragement. I was trying to curb my carbohydrate intake while determining whether I would be able to detect the vegetable component of the product’s crust.
The experience left a bad taste in my mouth. It was cauliflower.
It’s possible that I veered from the cooking directions on the packaging when I prepared the pizza, and that’s why the crust had a cardboard texture to accompany the cauliflower flavor and aftertaste.
I realize that Oprah has a stake in the “O, That’s Good” food products line, but I had to wonder if she actually put her mouth where her money is coming from and sampled her frozen food products.
I prefer commercials in which products are displayed, rather than endorsed, and the celebrities appearing in them seem to be working more for laughs than for sales.
Take, for instance, Snoop Dogg and Kate Upton, celebrity vendors of another form of questionable cryogenic cuisine — Hot Pockets. Their commercials, which last appeared four or five years ago, were humorous, trippy and fun to listen to, with cameo appearances by rappers, actors — even Larry King wearing a huge, gold “Cheese” medallion.
Moving from frozen and baked to fried foods, KFC’s use of 16 actors to portray the fried chicken franchise’s founder, Col. Harland Sanders, was a stroke of genius, although I was a bit troubled at first when Darrell Hammond was replaced by Norm MacDonald.
All 16 of the celebs seemed to have fun with the role, with the possible exception of Rob Lowe, who acted like he was still appearing on “West Wing” while wearing a Kentucky colonel’s outfit. And what better celebrity to pitch KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken than tanned-to-perfection actor George Hamilton.
Finally, consider aging rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who appeared in an “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” commercial while being impersonated by comedian Jon Culshaw.
In the ad, the two Ozzies mumble unintelligibly as they struggle to overcome temporary impairment long enough to prepare a batch of muffins, at one point breaking eggs atop a counter-mounted skull. When a refrigerator is opened to retrieve a final ingredient, it is shown to contain only a stick of margarine and a stick of butter. Ozzie and his look-alike can’t tell the difference, and the commercial ends, leaving viewers wondering why a guy who purportedly bit the heads off of bats was hired to do a margarine commercial?
Beats me. But I have to confess:
I’ve been a loyal “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” customer since the commercials appeared.