Snap! Crackle! Pop!

[The Alienist apologies to the legions of fans who have inquired re: the silence of the past five months. Nothing bad… just newly assigned professional duties along with advancing age and decrepitude]

I was cleaning the garage recently, and ran across some items that brought back memories from a very long time ago.

For starters, what Baby Boomer does not remember this?

“Snap, what a happy sound
Snap is the happiest sound I’ve found
You may clap, rap, tap, slap but
Snap… makes the world go ’round.

“I say it’s crackle the crispy sound
You gotta have crackle or the clock’s not wound.
Geese cackle, feathers tickle,
Belts buckle, beets pickle,
But crackle… makes the world go ’round.

“I insist that pop’s the sound
The best is missed unless pop’s around.
You can’t stop hoppin’ when the cereal’s poppin’,
Pop… makes the world go ’round.

“Snap Crackle Pop Rice Krispies! Kellogg’s Best to you!”

From the Kellogg’s website: “Snap! Crackle! and Pop!, the animated cartoon mascots for Rice Krispies, were created by illustrator Vernon Grant in the 1930s. The original gnome-like Snap! first appeared in 1933 on a package of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. Crackle! and Pop! came later, and since 1939, the three have been together in many forms of advertising, including radio, movie shorts, and comic strips. They are the first and longest-running cartoon characters to represent a Kellogg’s product.”

[sidebar: just as the company name Yahoo! includes the exclamation point – it was not the addition of an overly exuberant copy editor – apparently Kellogg’s gnomes originally had exclamation points as integral parts of their nomenclature which, unlike Yahoo!, were lost over time]

No one seems to know exactly when the Rice Krispies ditty was created. In 1953 it was not yet being aired:

But by 1960, it is recognizable, albeit in rather primitive form, as the song most of us remember:

What, you might ask, does this have to do with my garage?

In the mid-1970s, a group of bored medical students at my alma mater decided on a (rather risky) prank. Three of them planned on interrupting a dull lecture by singing the Rice Krispies song unannounced. The risk: because the ballad is written for three who are not singing together until harmonizing at the very end, the first chanteur was going to have to start singing with no back-up. If his colleagues chickened and didn’t join at the appointed moments, the first would be left looking pretty darned foolish in front of >100 stunned classmates and one probably very annoyed professor.

The day came. The troubadours planted themselves in different rows on opposite ends of the cavernous lecture hall. The professor droned on and on. “Questions?” One hand shot up and was recognized. A student rose.

“Snap, what a happy sound…”

The audience fell totally silent. The professor stared.

The second and third crooners stood and entered right on cue.

The song finished.


There was a momentary pause, and then the hall erupted into wild applause.

The professor burst into laughter

The gamble paid off. And the Spinal Chords were born.

From the University of Virginia School of Medicine student life website: “Founded in 1977, this a cappella singing group is made up of male medical students who bring music and mirth to the hospital and the community-at-large. The Spinal Chords practice twice weekly a repertoire that ranges from barbershop favorites to current hits and everything else that won’t land them in jail! They enjoy tremendous popularity for their performances in class, on the wards, and throughout the state. In addition, the Chords raise funds for the Children’s Medical Center which are presented each May during the CMC telethon. Membership is open to all male medical students. Auditions are held each fall as the older Chords are “retired” by graduation. Enthusiasm more than talent is the major requirement.”

[sidebar: by the 1980s, there started a mirror-image women’s group, the Palpitations, but those divas never really caught on]

I was a proud member of the Chords from 1980-84. Our uniform over that span: khakis, docksiders or penny loafers, cotton buttondowns with bow ties, and white lab coats. Everyone in the medical center recognized us. The Chords delivered singing telegrams in our spare time. We were requested as evening entertainment at pharmaceutical functions and medical meetings. We even traveled the state to perform at conventions. Those were heady days indeed.

(and an amazingly low-effort way by which to get female nurses’ phone numbers, although we never had groupies per se)

I had located a box in the garage filled with Chords ephemera. Even one of our tour t-shirts. And the memories came flooding back.

Unlike our long-lived cartoon alter-egos, and despite our Warholian 15 minutes of fame, the Chords apparently didn’t have staying power. On the UVa website, under the description noted above, there is a sad disclaimer, “currently inactive.”

And even more sad: in the pre-YouTube days, I’m not certain that we were ever recorded. If anyone ‘out there’ has a Chords video, please contact me.

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[Copyright 2013 @ The Alienist’s Compendium]

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