Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

July 11, 2009

Barbasol and Grape Nuts: Two American Products That deserve More Recognition

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:05 am

The other day I read something about how Grape Nuts was going through one of its periodic “how do we advertise our weirdly named cereal?” crises, and there was even talk about taking it off the market. What a shame with all the crap mainstream sugar cereals and the “healthfood” cereals that all taste of some molasses-like over sweetening.

Grape Nuts is the perfect cereal! (And, btw, no product placement fees asked or offered). They’ve just been cursed by bad advertising. Remeber “tastes like wild hickory nuts”. Euelll Gibbons! Whoever ate wild hickory nuts? Sounds like it tastes like tree bark.

Yes, it’s a century old and has a ridiculous name, but it’s the best tasting dry cereal there is. I have to limit myself to a small box because I can go through one in a couple of days if I’m not careful. The secret ingredient: barley! Why won’t they advertise the taste of barley. No other cereal has it in quantities that register to the taste buds. it’s fearsomely but deliciously crunchy, doesn’t taste sugary, just toasty. It’s a century old and never been bettered.

Don’t give up Grape Nuts!

And then there’s Barbasol, the shave cream that doesn’t advertise at all as far as I can tell. I dont know who makes it, but the magic can says it’s distributed by some company in Dublin,Ohio. I used to use expensive shaving gels, like Aveeno, that promoted super smoothness and super sensitivity and super skin care, blah blah blah, You’d get maybe three shaves out of the deceptively tall can and then find yourself one morning with 20 minutes to get some place and nothing but sputtering from the empty can.

I swear when I say the Barbasol can is magic, it almost never seems to run out. I don’t knw how they do it, but it’s creamy and effective, smells great without being perfumey, smells like an old fashioned barber shop, and besides my father used it, it reminds me of my childhood when he’d shave before catching a commuter train. It’s like a link to him and my past, my shaving cream madeleine.

They don’t advertise as far as I know After many years of fancy over perfumed creams and gels I was re- united with Barbasol on one of those mornings when my expensive can of gel ran out and I ran out across the street to my local bodega which stocked only Barbasol. It’s one of those precious relics from a lost America where advertising, branding and promotion hasn’t trumped quality.

Support Barbasol and Grape Nuts, people!

And please send in suggestions for other such great non marketed, or poorly marketed brands that deserves support.



  1. I used a can of Barbasol this morning. The secret is the plastic cap. Grape Nuts too gritty for my delicate intestines, however. In the spirit of this post, let me recommend “Buriki: Japanese Tin Toys of the Golden Age of the American Automobile” at the Japan Society on East 47th Street off First Avenue>

    Comment by charlie finch — July 11, 2009 @ 7:13 am | Reply

  2. Uneeda biscuits, Zwieback, Bovril, Red Devil Chicken Spread, Mott’s Apple Juice, Arrid Cream Deodorant (works best, only cream left), Aramis cologne (available only at drugstore on 74th and Madison)

    Comment by charlie finch — July 11, 2009 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  3. Yeah you right–you can live off Grape Nuts, if you have to. Keeps one regular and movin’ around. Satchel Paige ate ’em, so did Dylan circa ’61-62. And it seems like I’ve been using the same can of Barbasol for 5 years; think I confiscated it from my son & friends who were spraying it on cars one Halloween. Buy American, etc.

    Comment by Slampo — July 12, 2009 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  4. You are right about Grape Nuts, but they may be keeping a low profile for a reason. I never mention my love of Grape Nuts around others because it inevitably leads to a chorus of “euw, gross!” and I just don’t feel like hearing it. Perhaps Post Cereal’s market research shows that advertising that raises awareness of Grape Nuts also raises the feeling of public stigma in barley lovers, and may result in lower sales.

    But there’s no other cereal that is as satisfying right after you add milk, texture-wise. Yum.

    Comment by *jaime — July 13, 2009 @ 5:53 am | Reply

  5. Canned shaving cream? I’ll stick to the real deal: William’s Shaving Soap and a boar-bristle brush.

    Comment by Ace — July 13, 2009 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  6. I have used Barbasol every morning for years and have a store brand Grapenuts knockoff three or four mornings a week. Both are good and cheap. What more can you ask? Interestingly, Grapenuts is primarily a breakfast cereal for men.

    Comment by Banjo — July 16, 2009 @ 8:44 am | Reply

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