Jeff Vrabel: Leggo my Eggo, economy
Well, it's over, there are no more waffles.
I am going to pause for a moment to let that news sink in and give you the time, if you are so moved, to kill yourself, because this waffle fiasco is pretty definitively the worst thing to happen to our collective breakfast-related condition since the lunchtime mauling of Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird in that panther cage (he was so young and chocolatey). Sure, the recession has brought all manner of terrible things to America, including rampant unemployment, obscene corporate bonuses and like 35 weekly hours of Jay Leno, but this is the first time in the modern American economic model that a slowdown has proven so protracted and severe that it has wiped out a breakfast food outright. (And I don't mean to be alarmist, but I'm also hearing pretty stormy things about muffins futures.)
According to the Mainstream Media in a shockingly uncharacteristic break from making up mean things about Sarah Palin, the Kellogg Co. announced last week that there will be, for the foreseeable future, a nationwide shortage of Eggo frozen waffles due to production problems at two of the four plants that make them, according to company spokesman Crackle. (Percentage of news stories that used a "leggo" joke in the lead: 1,000,000 percent. Thanks guys, we got it.)
But, you might ask, what sort of problems could be so comprehensive, so unpredictably dire that they could shut down the production lines of a major American breakfast and cereal consortium? Well, one in Atlanta was shut down because of — and unless you have a business background you may not be familiar with this MBA-level inside-baseball jargon here — rain. It rained a lot. The second troubled plant is closed for repairs, indefinitely. Once again, that's repairs. Indefinitely. The waffle machines need fixing, possibly forever.
Kellogg estimates the projected date for a return to pre-crash Eggo levels isn't until mid-2010. To put that in perspective, a Democrat-controlled Congress may be able to decide something about health care reform before Kellogg's can get its waffle machines dried off.
Now, I make the jokes, but I suppose this is to be expected a little bit, because as everyone knows the Kellogg Co. is staffed entirely by elves. Not like the cute fun elves who do magical things in forests or make Christmas junk or are Taylor Swift. Mean ones. Mean business elves. There is nothing cute about them, except their shoes, which are, to be fair, absolutely delightful.
And luckily for me, the Eggo thing is not a problem at my house, as we've been able to keep a pretty good handle on our waffle consumption. (I'm not gloating. Were there to be some kind of problem regarding Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, I'm reasonably sure my five-year-old would take hostages, like he did during the Thomas the Tank Engine Recall of 2007. Dozens were injured.)
Moreover, I already hear what some of you right-wing capitalist types might be saying: Hey, Jeff Hussein, it's called the free market, you elitist, gunless representative of Not Real America, which is headquartered in a Trader Joe's international wine aisle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn ruled with somber, thoughtful sincerity by Eddie Vedder. If the free market can't support waffles, guess what, the waffles will die. It's how we roll here in America, little buddy, and if you don't cotton to it you can get in your hug-powered zeppelin and swish off to some Socialist Communist Death Panel-y Jerkwater like Denmark, where you can go Not Hunt Moose or do whatever it is you do.
But I say to you: From us hardworking Americans, those of us who pay our mortgages and try to live within our means — except for maybe going to like way too many Springsteen concerts in the past few years but my God can you blame me the E Street Band is going on hiatus and they may never tour again and besides I don't lecture you about your hobbies — this would be the worst news of the week, were it not for the part about the E Street Band going on hiatus. Seriously, in the same week, I learn Bruce is going off the road, and there are no more waffles. WHY DON'T YOU JUST LIGHT MY FACE ON FIRE, SANTA.
But, as Sonny said shortly before the panther ate his beak, what can you do? Times are tight for everyone, so we'll just all have to pull together and ration Eggos like we will health care for the elderly, which is as it should be. Lean times demand difficult sacrifices, and I am prepared to do my part, unless what I'm hearing about muffins is true. Because those I will steal from you while you sleep.
Jeff Vrabel literally spent like 30 minutes trying out different ways to kill off Sonny the Cocoa Puffs Bird in this column. He can be reached at the slightly new-looking jeffvrabel.com and/or followed at twitter.com/jeffvrabel, where he’ll be crying about the Springsteen thing all week.