Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Illinois Corn Flake

Grabbing fist-fulls of Corn Flakes one morning as she was getting ready for school, 15-year-old Emily McIntire noticed this single flake and said, “Oh my goodness, it's Illinois.” Dubbed “The Great Illinois Corn Flake,” Emily and her sister Melissa say that their folks told them to sell it on eBay, for fun. They want to buy more cereal, their favorite breakfast. Residents of Illinois get free shipping. (The McIntire sisters live in Virginia.) Yahoo linked to the story this morning and at one point today, the bidding had topped $200,000! As of around 10pm on Tuesday, March 18, however, the auction has been stopped and the item removed. I’m guessing that like the Virgin Mary Pretzel, this foodstuff was pulled down due to eBay rules and regulations, and shockingly high bids.

What’s with states of late? It must be the Presidential election and all of the primaries. The media has been focusing our attention on these primaries and now everyone has “state fever.” State pride really seems to be making a national comeback these days, as folks in places like Mississippi have been basking in the media's gaze. Texans have always been a proud people. Mass-holes: they’re a real phenomenon.

Of late though, the Midwest has been flexing its pride, almost eradicating state boundaries. Who doesn’t remember the cow named Michigan from just a couple of weeks ago? Sufjan Stevens created a full-length album about Illinois. Do you think that I can tie it into this Corn Flake? I can, check out these lines from his song "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!"

Chicago, in fashion, the soft drinks, expansion
Oh Columbia!
From Paris, incentive, like Cream of Wheat invented,
The Ferris Wheel!

See. I got the cereal thing going for me, and the Illinois factor. Apparently, Cream of Wheat debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair.

It goes on, this regional pride for expanses of flatness. Mike Perry, a graphic designer I’ve worked with, has so much Midwest pride that it’s the name of his website: www.midwestisbest.com.

Now, Stevens and Perry and their appreciation for those regions pre-date this election cycle, but then again, neither of them, as far as I know, has ever claimed to see a state floating in their favorite cereal. The cow, however, is a recent story, so I’m sticking by my newly-hatched theory that the current US election climate has inundated us with graphics of states, divvyed up by red and blue districts, or even more elaborate color schemes to represent which candidates claimed certain districts. We see them everywhere, on newspapers, on the internet, television, livestock, mud flaps and wine stains. Plus, there has been so much talk lately of Michigan and Florida redoing their Democratic primaries. And for what, it doesn't look like either of these states will hold another round of primaries.

Even though the auction for this Illinois Corn Flake has ended, for now, I bet there’s a run on the cereal and then a spate of stories about flakes that look like states – especially Pennsylvania: my home state!

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