Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 19, 1987)
Thursday; March 19, 1937
Mysteries of The Screaming Yellow Zonkers
By Geoff McMurtry
Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Sounds like a
low-budget Japanese horror film. Maybe it is.
Better yet, though, Screaming Yellow Zonkers
are something to eat at the drive-in while
watching low-budget Japanese horror films.
Or in front of the TV watching Bugs Bunny.
Screaming Yellow Zonkers are the kind of
7 V i .
Zonk and Frank Hudecek, his boss
snack Mom would discourage, so you know
they taste pretty good.
When popping a Zonker into your mouth,
the first thing you notice is the sweet, glazed,
crunch outside. Then you notice the sweet,
delicious, yummy inside. Finally, you get to
the crunchy popcorn center. A Zonker is very
much like Karmelkorn that made it to the
If you already know what Zonkers are, this
part is redundant, but if you're one of the
many wondering what in the world is a
Screaming Yellow Zonker and why would
anyone eat one, this could be educational.
Screaming Yellow Zonkers are a "sweet,
glazed, crispy-light popcorn snack," accord
ing to the box. Basically, that means take a
hugh bunch of popcorn, pour honey and syrup
and other really good stuff on it, glaze the
outside so it's not all gooey, and put it in a
really cool box. And there you have it. Sim
plicity itself, really, and the best you can do
for a snack without involving chocolate. And,
of course, no caffeine. Never had it,' never will.
Now let's go back to the box for a moment,
shall we? As tasty, delicious and just real
darn yummy as Screaming Yellow Zonkers
are, the best thing about them is the packag
ing. Yes, t he packaging. I guess 1 always was a
sucker for good liner notes, but these come
close to being on the same level as XTC.
The box is covered with a big picture of a
big pile of Zonkers, and on one side a pair of
legs appears to be sticking out. On the oppo
site side protrudes a face bearing the expres
sion of fear and terror often associated with
victims of a popcorn avalanche.
But the real reward for perusing a box of
Zonkers comes when you get to the back. It's
a cartoon about Screaming Yellow Zonkers.
"Before there was Screaming Yellow Zonkers
the world was dull and boring," it starts out,
"In fact, the birds actually hated their own
singing. Even local town monsters lost all
interest in eating people." Of course, the
story has a happy, tasty ending.
Instead of cartoons, some boxes have con
tests where you can win cash and valuable
prizes, like a trip to Europe or somewhere
really neat and cultured like that, or, if you're
a BIG winner, a cuddly stuffed Zonk of your
very own. I'd recommend getting the stuffed
Zonk and going back to buying the cartoon
boxes after that.
A few fun facts about Zonkers:
O Every last Screaming Yellow Zonker
ever eaten got its start in Lincoln.
Screaming Yellow Zonkers are distrib
uted from Lincoln to all 50 states.
O Screaming Yellow Zonkers are made by
the Lincoln Snack Company, which started
doing so in 1SJG9.
O The Lincoln Snack Company also makes
Fiddle-Faddle, another candy glazed-popcorn
snack in peanut, peanut brittle and almond
flavors, and Poppycock, a gourmet popcorn
snack. Ask your butler about it.
O The Lincoln Snack Company has about
100 employees to make their snacks.
O Screaming Yellow Zonkers come in two
flavors Screaming Yellow Zonkers and
Screaming Nutty Zonkers, which have pea
nuts on them.
O One disappointing fact .the great
cartoons on the back are not the work of some
silly, demented, visionary genius who lives in
a basement under the factory. I had thought
they might be. They are instead the work of
highly proficient advertising copywriters.
Screaming Yellow Zonkers are undoubt
edly unpopular in households containing a
dentist, but they are one of those good old
fashioned American snacks. The kind that's
all sweet and bad for your teeth and fatten
ing, with no liber or protein to get in the way.
You don't eat candy for supper, and you don't
munch on steak and potatoes or green beans
between meals, because that would spoil
your supper. Nope, you won't find any wimpy
fruit juice or Nutrasweet in Screaming Yellow
Zonkers, just good old-fashioned sugar and
preservatives. And that's what makes this
country what it is.
1 wonder if there would be such a controv
ersy around' the Grammy award winning
"Gv&cdand"f.LP if it had been recorded by.;
someone other than whitebread Manhattan
sophisticate Paul Simon. A year ago if you
would have told people Paul Simon was going
to record an album of Zulu music you couldn't
buy enough brillo to wipe the smirks off their
Photos of Paul Simon in Harare with
Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mam
bazo and singer Miriam Makebawith his arms
raised in triumph, looking like an accountant
who thinks he's Tarzan, are a little discon
certing for anyone who has been following
Simon's career since his break-up with Art
Garfunkel. Through the years Simon has
come uncomfortably close to James Taylor
territory, where VH-1 lubricates the senses of
the pasta and zinfandel set.
But though the image is cognitively dis
sonant, the album makes perfect sense. Sim
on's voice may be the weakest part of the mix,
but his songwriting has never been stronger.
What we have here is not merely a sterile,
westernized setting to popularize the music
of South Africa, but a grouping of styles in
songs that would pack a wallop in most any
context. "Boy in a Bubble" for instance
immediately refutes claims that "Graceland"
isn't political enough. But because the song
has intelligent, subtle lyrics instead of the
stridency of, say, Billy Bragg, "Graceland"
critics have chosen to ignore its message
By Charles Lieurance
What most of those who have criticized
"Graceland" fail to see is that there is polit
ics in music itself, not just in lyric content,
that the purest folk music is political just
because of its spare sense of place, because
the feel of the music assumes things about a
country that it represents, forces the listener
to see a place in its ideal state. Just as the
music of the Carter Family or Pete Seeger,
independent of lyrics, brings to mind the
essence of blue-collar life or the simplicity of
a rural existence, the music of "Graceland"
paints a picture of a culturally free Africa,
exotic to our ears and free from western
notions of politics. Even an absence of polit
ics can be political.
The music does not put the struggle of
South Africa into western political terms
because the music is not in western terms.
Polyrhythms, anarchically jubilant guitar
playing and lush harmonies like these can
only give to us a sense of wonderment. We, the
west, are tourists here. The music represents
an ideal Africa uncluttered by the baroque,
restrained tones of the white government.
It is irrelevant that we receive this invita
tion into a South Africa that is not in songless
despair through the unlikely channel of Paul
Simon. The album works even if the channel
is a little lackluster.
And to enrich the affair Simon makes
beautiful musical connections between Africa
and America. Are there connections with
more political implications than that?
$) delightfully "different.
so packed with adventure... '
soeasy to visif in perfect comfort
Vv fWt i: .,1 f in i . J
S feaiS On (MMi&l
r- -r-v --r-,v rvuV-
To the leftwing press, who are at times
more hellbent for diatribe than the right,
Simon's album is unstomachable.
"With the 'Graceland' project Simon seems
to have cleared each step along the way and '
there is no rumor of disgruntled or ripped-off
musicians. However the larger question of
principle remains." (The Guardian, March 4,
This, of course, is the most condescending,
patronizing piece of half-witted bile to grace
the pages of The Guardian in many a moon.
Sounds as if Simon has spent a lot of time
wiping his fingerprints off a murder weapon.
It's as if these poor ignorant South African
musieiansjust can't deal with the intricacies
of recording finance. It's nice that the left
can take time to look out for South African
artists who may have been taken for a ride by
the monster troll Paul Simon. What could be
more inherently racist than assuming these
popular South African musicians didn't know
what they were doing?
And when they can't find foul play, they go
for principle, which they consider a "larger
question." A larger question than what, we're
tempted to ask. These South African musi
cians don't know their own principles either?
In my book, when it comes to making a
lush, exotic revelatory piece of music that
embraces hope and music's power to place
that hope in others instead of the despair of
political sloganeering, principle is not the
larger question, but the insignificant one.
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