Dearest Captain Crunch,
There you are, the famed naval commander, successful merchant and beloved naturalist, the brave explorer, pictured on cereal box after cereal box on our shelves, your eyes bulging with glee, silver fox mustache sparkling, hand extended out in pride toward a label declaring “Oops! All Berries!” To repeat, here is yet another serious crunchberry overfill situation, and again all you and your trading company can say about your latest disaster is “Oops.”
Some fifty years ago, you sailed the famed S.S. Guppy through pirate-infested channels and great heaving oceans, then onto the ill-drawn corners of the globe where there be dragons. You pressed your crew onward, always onward, until the day you sighted a remote island not on any map or chart. Troops of shock-topped bipeds jittered across the beaches, boop boop booping as they snatched fat berries off golden trees. What did you say then, sighting down this new spectacle in your telescope? Oops?
“Land, ho!” you must have called out. “Prepare the captain’s launch, lads!”
Out of sheer will you discovered new orders of both exotic berry and mammalia. Under your steady hand your trading company flourished and your scientists painstakingly honed in on the perfect crunchberry ratio. And there the mix stayed. For decades, without incident. Does this sound like the life’s work of an oops-prone leader? It does not.
Captain, this is no one-off mistake. Like scurvy the blunders have grown and festered over time. In 1997 the first unsuspecting crunchberry lovers were horrified to discover Oops! All Berries where that timeless blend should have waited. “How could this happen?” we asked each other. “All berries?” We assured ourselves that it was some glitch, that the box was marked Limited Edition. “See, the Captain is on it,” we said. “Problem soon to be solved.”
The years passed, and the Great Oops! became a distant prospect easily laughed off. “Remember when?” we would kid, a whiff of Davy Jones’ Locker to our humor. Somehow it only added to your legend– Captain Horatio Crunch, tested and true, capable of a grand mistake but a grander save. Then one black day in 2008, another delivery of All Berries dashed our breakfasts on the rocks of “Oops.” Some of us turned away then , appalled. “Look,” they would say, grabbing up a box and stabbing their fingers on your name printed there so boldly. “Cap’n? He can’t even be bothered to spell out his rank.” The rest of us have ridden out an annual disaster ever since, like a Nor’easter or red algae tide.
Let’s unpack the chain of fail points involved here.
- A cereal mix engineer forgets to turn on the Cap’n Crunch conveyor belt. An unrelenting stream of pure crunchberries cascades toward the packaging line.
- His foreman, co-workers and the quality control guy do nothing to warn of the rising berry tide.
- In what must be total disregard for plant procedures, the packaging guys unquestioningly watch the crunchberry torrent get sealed up in boxes by the gross. Boxes somehow pre-marked with “Oops!”
- The boxes are neatly arranged into cartons inexplicably also labeled “Oops!”
- The distributor stops not one truck loaded down with cargo and shipping advices labeled “Oops!”
- Neighborhood grocers everywhere accept delivery and have their crew unpack and shelve the boxes clearly marked with “Oops!”
- Later the pricing guy–bafflingly, a specific price point has been pre-set–prints out a label marked “Oops!” Seriously, he takes the time to make sure the Oops! label aligns with the product display.
- Coupons are generated. Store advertising is printed. Both read “Oops!”
- We consumers, seeking some kind of sanity, visit your website. Your page dedicated to “Oops! All Berries” offers no explanation, let alone an apology.
Looking at it this way almost shows a conspiracy of silence at work. The rumors abound: that riches and booty have gone to the Captain’s head, that he’s hiding a dire shortage of sweetened corn, that the unthinkable has occurred–Captain Crunch is no longer in command. Yes, one is almost tempted to listen.
Almost because we your loyal crew still believe. If Captain Horatio Crunch says “Oops,” then we take your word as a naval man. Surely you will finally, at long last, right your course. Understand, Captain, that we only wish the madness to end. Put the proper berry-to-cereal checks in place. Be the Horatio Crunch who sailed to lost worlds and back. That Captain Crunch would have keel-hauled any wretch who threatened the safety of the ship. That Captain would have secured his precious crunchberries against any rough sea and lashed himself to the rudder, madly driving the Guppy ever onward, ever onward, toward the star-filled sky beyond the storm.