I am dying to see “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Can you blame me? Any cartoon that includes George Clooney and Meryl Streep on its voice talent roster is okay in my book, PLUS you’ve got the awesomeness of stop-motion animation AND Wes Anderson at the helm. Oh, and a 91% on the Tomatometer at rottentomatoes.com. Done, done and done.
But wait, there’s more. Did you know chef extraordinaire Mario Batali voices one of the characters? Neither did I, at least not until the movie’s PR team at 42West brought it to my attention. Batali provides the voice for the Rabbit character and from the looks of things, footwear inspiration as well.
Now check out Rabbit. Look verrry closely.
Here’s the most adorable thing of all. The 42West PR gang have provided me with lovely Thanksgiving Day recipe cards created by none other than Rabbit…er…Mario Batali. Although I’m off the hook for kitchen duty this Thanksgiving, I know for sure I’ll be road-testing Rabbit’s pumpkin-sage-butter pasta dish sometime in the very near future (in which there is, by the way, an entire stick of butter. The pasta, not the near future.)
Check out the Pumpkin Lune with Butter and Sage and the rest of the recipes here: Thanksgiving Recipes from Mario “Rabbit” Batali
Love letter to the FTC: I received nothing in exchange for this post, not even a pair of orange crocs. Or a stick of butter.
Batali croc image via.
Rabbit image via 42West.
The seventies: the popcorn was hot, the channels were few, and the network promos were things of wonder.
I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. I’ll be going about my day, dealing with some everyday object when WHOOSH, I get a sudden flash of recall of its ghostly late 20th century antecedent. With it comes a fierce rush of memories of people and places and experiences long gone. It happened today. I’m eating leftover microwave popcorn (a little squishy but it was sitting there, why not) and flashed back to the basement of our house on Maple Avenue in Hershey, PA, let’s say 1974. Finished basement — a rumpus room, if you will — concrete floor painted a muddy brown by my mom in an effort to suggest, er, hardwood flooring? Classic ’70s wood panelling made of cardboard and spit, dropped ceiling with those nasty foam tiles, a shag throw rug in some kind of orange-y tones to “make things cozy”…and the family gathered around the tube in eager anticipation of the CBS Saturday night line-up.
If you are of a certain age, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Long before NBC invented “must see TV” on Thursday nights, there were CBS Saturdays. It started at 8 PM with “All in the Family” and continued through the 10 o’clock hour with some of the greatest TV shows ever made: “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Bob Newhart Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show.” A few years earlier, but this promo brings it back:
Back to the microwave popcorn? Well, if you’re a child of the ’70s, you know that before there were microwaves and air poppers, there was the electric popcorn popper. And nothing — NOTHING — makes better popcorn. You’d pour oil and popcorn kernels (or “gourmet popping corn” if you were swank and could afford Orville Redenbacher) in a well, cover it with a bulbous plastic dome, slap some butter (“We call it maize…”) in the perforated well on top of the dome, plug it in, and watch the popcorn pop.
Snack prep as spectacle — the sound of the sizzling oil, the smell of the corn cooking, the sight of that big plastic dome filling with fluffy popcorn — and the anticipation of that butter as it melted and dripped down through the perforations to the popcorn below…once it was done, you just unplugged it, flipped the whole contraption over, and your dome/lid now served as a bowl — full of steaming hot, buttery popcorn. Nirvana. My mom would bring the whole set up — hot oil and all — down into the TV room because remember — no DVR pause buttons. We didn’t want to miss a second of all that great TV, so easier to just whip up the popcorn right on the spot.
Ours was a West Bend popper, and guess what — they still exist. They’re sleeker and more streamlined now, but the one I remember looked just like this, down to the golden see-through plastic dome and the bright yellow plastic lid that pushed down the butter on top.
TV watching is a splintered, silo’d, highly individual experience chez Smirnov. We are a household with nine screens, of every size and persuasion. Each one of us has an electronic appendage — the Russian and his iPhone, the kid and his DS, me and my blackberry. Very often we’re multi-taking as we keep one eye on whatever the channel surfing dredges up on the HDTV in the front of the room. Don’t get me wrong, we have our communal TV-watching moments, and the older our son gets, the more we can share our TV preferences with him to make for a true family viewing outing.
It’s not the same, of course. Down to the way the popcorn tastes. Who sits around watching popcorn pop, for god’s sake? Well, 30-some years ago we did, and I cherish those memories. There’s such a thing as Slow Food and Slow Parenting…maybe it’s time to trade in the microwave popcorn for a West Bend and try out some Slow Family TV Time.
(Logo montage via James White. Popcorn popper via ebay.com)
Let’s get this out of the way: Pepperidge Farm is our client. We’re quite fond of them. It’s a beautiful thing working in an office where boxes of Milanos and Tim Tams literally line the hallways, I mean really – what’s not to love? Plus — they’re nice. They don’t make us cry (eh-hem.)
So we were bursting with pride and excitement to see in The Official White House Photostream that oh my goodness, President Obama snacks on Pepperidge Farm crackers. In moderation, of course, which we’ve come to expect from this disciplined and fit Commander-in-Chief. Has portion control ever been so artfully arranged, so elegant, so…commanderly??
Needless to say, the DeVries twitter critters (thx to my pal Jodi Balkan at BOLD PR for that coinage) sprang into action, tweeting and retweeting like fiends about the presidential snack (with full disclosure, don’t worry.)
For me, it came as a welcome distraction amidst gloom-and-doom pandemic news and other more mundane stresses (deadlines, neglected gym memberships, unreturned phone calls, etc.) Dare I say, I was inspired. Inspired by a White House brave enough to post behind the scenes images on Flickr. By the many new connections and colleagues I’ve discovered thanks to Twitter, and how it transforms how we do PR every single day. By the artful elegance of a plate of carrots, cheese, fruit and — yes — Pepperidge Farm crackers, a snack fit for a president and one that anyone can enjoy.
(Oh, and by the way, that’s not shilling or pimping, that’s me remembering that moderation can be a good thing and that perhaps I should rethink my afternoon iced mocha latte/peanut M&M ritual.)
So word around the office was that we had a new caterer coming in to do a tasting and would I mind stopping by to check it out. While a tasting might sound lavish and fun, when you’re knee-deep in new business hooplah it feels a bit more like a distraction than a treat. Also, it’s been many a moon since I personally vetted any caterers for the events we do for clients, so I thought it best to leave this one in the capable hands of the DeVries troops.
But so many people nagged me that I put down my hummus and Scandinavian flatbread (yet another glamorous lunch in front of my HP L19050) and schlepped down the hall to the conference room to see what all the fuss was about.
And was greeted with this:
Trust me when I say, these pictures don’t do the food justice. I’ve never attended a tasting this impeccably presented, nor this insanely delicious (organic veggie sushi you would die, repeat, die over.) Oh, with a Buddha statue worked into the display.
I almost hesitate to reveal who the caterer is because I’d much rather it stay our agency’s little secret — but these guys are too great not to promote.
So behold the genius of Smart Catering. And they are quite literally smart. They’ve invented a new catering model that outsources all the culinary work to chefs and restaurants that are best at what they do. No more catering menus that do sushi or dessert quasi-well…Smart Catering gives you sushi from Megu, cupcakes from Magnolia and pastries from Payard. And pull it all together with an exquisite taste level and — refreshing — flexibility on price. I see many happy event partnerships in the future with this company.