Mario Vaneechoutte (
Fri, 04 Jul 1997 09:08:54 -0700

Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 04 Jul 1997 09:08:54 -0700
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
Subject: Sandwiches

Sometime ago, I spread the following meme by means of this discussion
list: "Quakers sell cornflakes boxes with a quiz for ten-year-olds on
it. Among 20 statements, they also state: 'Man descends from ape' and
answer the statement as wrong (while all other statements are answered
correctly). As such, Quakers found a good trick to spread a creationist

It turns out that nothing of this story is true and that I was a victim
of some of my own memes. Let me explain how I could go so wrong.

When I told a colleague the fact that the only wrong answer on a
cornflake box (I did not specify which brand) was about the origin of
mankind, he immediately answered: 'But of course, these are Quakers'
Of course, this rang a lot of bells to me. How didn't I think of it

Neither my colleague nor I were aware that in fact Quakers are not by
definition creationists. Neither were we aware that Quakers' cornflakes
have nothing to do with the Quaker society. So, I made two wrong
assumptions from the start, but at least I confort myself by saying that
similarly wrong assumptions exist in the head of many contemporary

The major mistake I made was not checking whether the box had indeed
been one of Quakers' company (the box was already some weeks out of our
house). But of course, the explanation that my colleague had provided
was so obvious.

The next mistake was trying to make myself interesting, by telling a
good story (to a discussion community of memeticists which was brand
new) and not realizing that the internet is such a powerful medium (I do

So, after learning that Quakers' cornflakes are not related to real
Quakers, I had to do some investigation and I phoned a few cornflake

Today I received an answer from Kelloggs company. The quiz was on their
boxes. The reason why the answer on 'Man descends from ape' was
indicated as wrong, is given in the following translation I made from
the Dutch letter:

"Sir, we were informed by our people of the Marketing Department, who
are responsible for our packages, that indeed man does not descend from
ape. As a matter of fact, everything has originated from microorganisms
in the water and man is originally descending from a fish species-like
Nevertheless we thank you for your question and send you herewith two
breakfast spoons."

(Indeed, two white plastic spoons were included.)

So, this confirms again that one is never too old to learn or to earn
two spoons.

Herewith, the last wrong assumption is clarified. I had assumed that the
questions were addressed to ten-year-olds. As a matter of fact, they
seem to have been written by a ten-year-old fish species-like being. One
can only wonder how he or she got a job in the marketing department of

So the message was not on a Quakers' cornflake box and it was neither
intended as a creationist message.

I wish the Quaker people a good laugh, especially because this
embarassing experience learned me that they are rather broad minded

I apologize again, but remain curious to the further spread of this

Anyway, our children had better eaten sandwiches.

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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