Re: *Quaker* cornflakes?

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 08:34:20 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 08:34:20 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Re: *Quaker* cornflakes?

Lawrence D. Rupp wrote:
> Marshall Massey wrote: (To Ecotheology)
> >
> > Larry, I'm afraid I have no idea why the box of cornflakes was
> > referred to as "Quaker".
> >
> > As far as I know, there are no Quaker creationists in Europe,
> > where Mario Vaneechoutte resides. European Quakerism tends to be
> > centrist or liberal and pro-scientific.
> >
> > It is very possible that there may be evangelical Friends here in
> > the U.S. who are creationists -- their branch of Quakerism is rather
> > right-wing and reactionary -- but I have not heard that the
> > evangelical Friends make cornflakes. The other varieties of Friends
> > here in the U.S. are not, so far as I know, inclined toward
> > creationism.
> >
> > The Quaker Oats Company may make cornflakes, but they are not
> > actually owned or managed by Quakers, and have no connection with the
> > Religious Society of Friends. (In fact, I am told that their founder
> > was actually a Baptist.) And since they have no connection with our
> > Society, I don't really know much about what they're up to; but I have
> > never heard of them pushing a religious agenda. It seems, in fact,
> > unlike them. We Quakers have from time to time had reason to complain
> > about the behavior of the Quaker Oats Company, down through the years,
> > precisely because the company has never seemed to display any
> > religious consciousness or sensitivity whatsoever. For example, a few
> > years ago they were running TV commercials for children's cereal
> > featuring "Popeye the Quaker Man", who defeats monsters with one blow
> > of his mighty, cereal-nourished fist. This is so far away from the
> > pacifism of actual Quakers as to be laughable! For such a company to
> > suddenly begin campaigning for a religious position, such as
> > creationism, seems to me to be rather out of character.
> >
> > The Quaker testimony of integrity forbids such deceptive and
> > manipulative packaging of a message as Mario describes. If one is a
> > Quaker, one is expected, taught, even openly *pressured* to speak
> > one's views plainly, and to relate to others without playing games.
> > Of course, it is still possible to be *unconsciously* gamey, or to
> > fail to realize that one has not yet spoken plainly -- and we are all
> > guilty of such things from time to time, are we not? But a cereal box
> > is a very deliberately designed thing: its manipulative qualities are
> > very consciously planned. And thus the package Mario describes just
> > doesn't sound like Quaker behavior to me. That doesn't mean that it
> > *can't possibly* be Quaker behavior -- but if it *is* Quaker behavior,
> > it's something outside my experience.
> >
> > If you happen to learn more about this "Quaker cornflakes" stuff,
> > I'd like to hear about it. Please keep me informed.

OK. First I sincerely apologize to the Quaker society.
I gave origin to some message, which makes assumptions which are
obviously wrong.

How can I explain myself? First, to us here in Europe, Quakers,
Mormones, and all those hundreds of religious American sects (pardon me
in case Quakers and Mormones aren't: to most Europeans they are, because
we generalize) are creationists.
Second, Europeans don't know (on average) that Quakers Oats have nothing
to do with Quakers as a society.
Third, European market is infested with those American marketing tricks,
like putting toys into food packets.

If you put that altogether, and you have the meme 'meme' in your head,
it looks like a magnificent example of spreading memes. I always try to
be careful, but I wasn't.

Now, by spreading this message, I created a new erroneous meme, and it
can't be stopped. Those who have read it and unsubscribed in the
meanwhile can't read the corrections, will tell the story further etc.
Same is true for newspapers, full of errors. The problem is that you
have to be able to eradicate the last copy before any message disappears
from the meme pool (look at Lamarckism, which keeps popping up again and
again: so here it was again.). The same is true for genes: as long as
there is one copy left, it is possible that generations later there will

Still, the question remains: why was this particular statement about our
descent from ape, answered as such on the cornflake box? Never mind.

Mario Vaneechoutte
Laboratory Bacteriology & Virology
Blok A, De Pintelaan 185
University Hospital Ghent
Belgium 9000 Ghent
Tel: +32 9 240 36 92
Fax: +32 9 240 36 59
Editor J. Memetics:

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