By Jim Klobuchar published in The Minneapolis Star on Apr 16th, 1966
THE PILLSBURY COMPANY has decided to try it hand at winning the war in Viet Nam.
With full knowledge of some of the impressive undertakings these people have attempted before, one still would have to put this down as a venture of special scope and audacity.
Pillsbury’s strategy revolves around a presweetened imitation drink mix called “Funny Face,” which has the general appearance of (but is not to be confused with) the Kool-Aid of our childhood joy.
Funny Face and Kool-Aid, of course, are now grim competitors, slugging it out for the affections of our fighting men overseas as well as a place under the refrigerator light in domestic kitchens.
Pillsbury is convinced, however, that its artificially sweetened powder is forging a wide edge in the Viet Nam popularity polls, and its sales force unveiled a bulging portfolio of GI testimonials this week to prove it.
TAKE THIS LETTER, for example, from Pfc. Gerald W. Fletcher, writing in behalf of radio operators with the Seventh Division Advisory Detachment in South Viet Nam:
“The drinking water in Viet Nam is river water. It is dirtier than you could ever believe possible, and contains many things foreign to normal water. I won’t go into detail, for many reasons.
“As you must know, the water is heavily chlorinated so as to purify it enough to drink. When you drink it, well, it’s sort of like drinking a swimming pool.
“But ‘Goofy Grape’ has solved the taste-of-water problem for us, since we now mix ‘Goofy Grape’ constantly throughout the day in our radio room.
“We have also discovered that during search-and-destroy operations, in which we seek out the Viet Cong, if we carry a package of ‘Goofy Grape’ we can mix it up with our canteen water and have something to wash down the ‘C’ rations. In short, ‘Goofy Grape’ has become a life saver.”
This has so stirred the patriotic fervor of the Pillsbury people as to set off an accelerated plan to get Goofy Grape and such companion life-savers as Jolly Olly Orange, Rootin’-Tootin’ Raspberry, Lefty Lemon, Loud-Mouth Lime and Choo Choo Cherry into the hands of every fighting man in the paddies.
Accordingly, Pillsbury intends this week to dispatch an agent to Viet Nam seeking official permission to helicopter the cartooned packages into isolated pockets of military operations.
FUNNY FACE (and its competitors) already has been supplied to thousands of servicemen around the world as part of their issued subsistence. It is also available at commissaries and post exchanges.
Resourcefully, the GI has discovered a subsidiary use. The stuff provides a highly mobile form of mix for use with vodka and gin.
“My personal preference,’ one wrote, “is Loud-Mouth Lime. Excellent with gin and vodka, but not too good with bourbon.”
“We can not help being impressed,” a Pillsbury salesman told me, “with such versatility in a product.”
Thereupon, he confronted me at lunch the other day with a purple-hued concoction in which ice cubes tinkled merrily.
“Hmm,” I said, “that looks good, just like Goofy Grape.” “Try it,” he said, “and see.”
“Wow,” I exclaimed, “it sure doesn’t taste like Goofy Grape.”
“Exactly,” he said, “it is none other than Funny Face with a few gentle droplets of gin. The drink might be called The Vineclimber.
“Naturally, Funny Face as it is sold domestically is still primarily a children’s drink. But its popularity with the servicemen has truly astounded us. Would you believe, for instance, that the first thing some of the soldiers on leave reach for is our product?”
I raised a skeptical eyelash here, explaining that I had had some experience as a soldier on leave in the dim past, and that while Funny Face might be reached for ardently, it wasn’t necessarily the first thing reached for.
“Nevertheless,” the man said, “we have testimonials to prove it.”
Things may be looking up in Viet Nam after all.