Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Ever Happened To . . . Snap, Crackle, and Pop?

Aside from the legendary Cap'n Crunch and perhaps the Trix Rabbit, the most famous breakfast cereal representatives in history would have to be the Rice Krispies icons Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

The sons of Polish immigrants Kaboom and Powie Jablonsky, the brothers grew up in the slums of Chicago, often begging on street corners for spare change or the odd scrap of food while their parents worked in a shoe factory. It was a rough childhood and they were often pitied, or even looked down upon as wayward ragamuffins.

In 1960, the boys' luck changed dramatically when a wealthy entrepreneur stopped to give them a few quarters. Charmed by the brothers' smiles and perkiness, Mr. Will Kellogg asked if they'd like to come work for him at his cereal company. Snap, the most confident and outspoken of the trio, said that they'd have to ask their folks. Kellogg walked the boys home, all the while becoming more and more impressed with their engaging banter and positive outlook on life.

When they arrived at the ramshackle apartment, Kaboom Jablonsky was reading the evening paper while Powie changed the rancid diaper of the new baby, Wham. Mr. Kellogg introduced himself, and offered Kaboom $10,000 if he'd allow Snap, Crackle, and Pop to go with him to New York and become the faces of his new breakfast cereal, Rice Krispies.

Said Kaboom: "You had me at 'arrived at the ramshackle apartment.'"

"The rest, as they say, is history. For the next three decades, the names Snap, Crackle, and Pop were synonymous with delicious breakfast cereal and their adorable, elfish faces were splashed all over billboards, cereal boxes, TV commercials, and memorabilia. They retired from the company in 1995, millionaires, and their likenesses are still used on Kellogg's Rice Krispies to this day.

Snap Jablonsky used his fortune to open a chain of workout centers, Snap Fitness. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife Elizabeth and their triplet girls, Shake, Rattle, and Jennifer. Snap is proud of his Rice Krispies legacy, and always speaks fondly of Will Kellogg, who passed away in 2006. Delivering the eulogy at Kellogg's funeral, Snap described him as "a wonderful gentleman who changed the way the world looked at puffed rice."

Crackle was always the difficult one, perhaps a victim of "middle child" syndrome. While he reluctantly went along with, as he called it, "the whole friggin' cereal thing", his true passion was horse racing. In 1997, he lost an estimated $400,000 in one afternoon at Santa Anita, continually betting long-shots and drinking white wine spritzers. Crackle has no children, and his ex-wife Monica took him for the few scraps of cash he had left in a bitter divorce in 2002. Crackle came out of the closet in 2008, embracing his long-suppressed gay identity. He is currently living in West Los Angeles with his life partner Count Chocula.

Pop, the quiet one, was Will Kellogg's favorite. Always smart with his money, Pop was on Forbes' list of the fifty richest people in the world as recently as 2005. When Kellogg died in October of '06, Pop Jablonsky was a major beneficiary in his will, receiving controlling interest in the Kellogg's Company along with $500 million in cash. Pop is currently living the life of a reclusive gazillionaire in the Cayman Islands.

And what happened to the infant, Wham Jablonsky? Just as the Marx Brothers had a sibling, Gummo, who never appeared in their movies, Wham never showed any interest in joining his brothers in the cereal industry. Instead, he took singing lessons and in the early 80's Wham moved to England and became a pop music star, peaking in 1984 with his hit single, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go".

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