This box brings back memories. I LOVED Carnation Breakfast Bars. Specifically the peanut butter chocolate chip ones, but I’d eat the plain chocolate chip ones in a pinch. They were a staple of my childhood breakfasts, snacks, and whenever I could get away with replacing a meal with one.
One morning I sat there, happily chewing my bar of wonderfulness, and my Dad – in an ornery moment – looked at me grinning, and quipped, “You know, those are made of ground up chicken feathers, right?” I put the bar down, eyes wide, trying to figure out if he was serious or not. Mom sighed. “Walter! Stop that! Those are the only things I can get her to eat for breakfast.” I looked at my father, his face stoic, and then I saw his eyes twinkle. Deciding he was teasing me, I picked up my Carnation Breakfast Bar, took a huge bite, and proudly said, “The feathers taste fabulous.”
When I headed off to college, I made sure I had one or two boxes of Breakfast Bars on my little shelf of snacks in the dorm room. One time when my parents came up to visit, Mom asked on the phone if there was anything I needed. I told her, “You don’t have to make a special trip to the store, but if you see a box of Carnation Breakfast Bars laying by the side of the road, you can pick it up and bring it to me.” They arrived with a box of Carnation Breakfast Bars (peanut butter and chocolate chip of course) wrapped in a felt “road kill” skunk . . . missing a head – either because Mom couldn’t easily fashion a flattened skunk head, she ran out of room when cutting the piece of felt into a fake skunk, or she thought a head would be gross. I thought it was hilarious, and the headless felt skunk carcass hung on my wall all through college. I probably have it in a box somewhere.
Then one day, I rounded the corner of the grocery store aisle and stopped short. My beloved boxes of Carnation Breakfast Bars were now plastered with the proclamation: “NEW AND IMPROVED!!” Ever the optimist back in those days, I cheerfully purchased the box, expecting the taste to actually be new and improved.
IT WAS NOT.
The taste was flat, there were less chocolate chips, and the kind familiar crunchy texture was replaced with some sort of chewy consistency that wanted to be a granola bar, but was just too oily and sticky to get there.
I was crushed.
I called the number on the box.
The cheerful lady on the other end told me that consumer polling determined that people liked bars that were chewier, so they revamped the recipe. “NOBODY ASKED ME!!” I wailed. She told me I could file a complaint. “Ooh, really?” I said. So I filed a complaint. They asked for my zip code at the end of my spoken rant of misery. I provided them the zip code of my small little town where I went to college.
Then that night I called back, filed another complaint, and gave them a different zip code.
Over the next two weeks, I called back probably 20 times. Every time they gave me the “consumer polling determined people liked chewier bars” bullshit, and I politely listened through it and gave them a complaint and a zip code.
It didn’t work.
The bars eventually went away altogether.
I drove to every grocery store I could think of and purchased every box of the old recipe I could find. My mother helped me out and did the same thing. A few weeks after I ran out, she found a stray box somewhere random. I saved the last bar from that box for months – finally eating the very last Carnation Breakfast Bar I would ever eat on the morning of my birthday.
*MUFFLED* years later, there is a page on Facebook dedicated to bringing these beloved bars back. Apparently, Carnation receives a lot of requests to remake the bars, but they haven’t helped us out yet. There is also a recipe for a copycat bar, but I haven’t had the nerve to try it yet.
So for now, a moment of silence please . . . for Carnation Breakfast Bars . . . for childhood . . . for anything you’re missing today . . .
See you at Day 25.