Friday, December 28, 2012

Rootin' Tootin' Rasberry

First released by Pillsbery in 1964, this flavored packet
was spotted on Meher Baba's breakfast tray in 1965

My mother met Meher Baba in 1964 and again in 1965. In 1965 Baba asked her to spend some time with his women disciples. When she came to the women's side at Meherazad, entering Baba's house with Mehera, she noticed Baba's breakfast on the table prepared for him. Being very observant, she couldn't help notice a familiar packet of American Kool-Aid propped next to his water glass. She said her memory is that the flavor was Rootin' Tootin' Raberry. She assumed it was simply used sparingly to improve the taste of his water. As a child hearing this story many times I was delighted to hear Baba drank this popular drink that we also sometimes had in the house and whose cartoon commercials we often saw in those days on our TV.

However, when I brought this up recently with the woman who cares for Adelle Walkin, another who met Baba and knew him much earlier than our family, I learned something more. I talked to Adelle to confirm it. In the 1960s Baba began to request all kinds of odd highly advertised consumer products from his American followers to send to him. This included, as Adelle recalled, some appallingly (Adelle is a nurse and very health conscious) sugary cereals. She gave as an example, Frosted Flakes.

I heard Baba also had a can of 7-Up, and placed it atop his head as a joke. Baba was of course "7-UP" in the inner planes.

It also turns out that Baba asked his close disciple Don Stevens (editor of God Speaks) to buy him an electric razor. Don got him a Philips shaver. Philips is the Dutch electronics company that markets its shavers under the name Norelco in the United States.

In the 1960s, products in the United States were taking on a new level of sophisticated advertising and appealing to all kinds of manufactured tastes and demands.

Baba often said that he did 'internal work' by way of external actions that we, not knowing their purpose, could not understand. (1)


  1. Chris, You might find this interesting. DeDe Mavris had told me that Baba would have her send him Rottin Tootin Raspberry, which was a Funny Face dribk, made by Pillsbury as an artificially (Cyclamate) sweetened competitor to Kool Aid. Hence, when I was at Leo Burnett as a copywriter in the 70s, I wanted to be on that account. (Seven Up was at J Walter Thompson up the street). I finally got my chance in 1973. By that time Cyclamates (the best tasting artificial sweetener) had been outlawed in this country, and sales had dropped. They had no distinguishing value except the characters. I was furrther appalled by the struggles that the FTC had with agencies advertising to children, and the whole thing was difficult EXCEPT that I knew Baba used it. Right in the middle of this (November) I came down to Myrtle Beach and got the full story from your Dad about how because of Baba's diabetes, Adah Shifrin's husband (a chemist in Miami) kept Baba up to date on the latest breakthroughs in artificial sweeteners and got Baba in on early shipments of Cyclamates. Baba liked the drink and used it to sweetene his breakfast water, which he served to Lyn. Then in 1967, Dr. Goher discovered that Baba had developed an "inner itch" from the Cyclamates and took him off. Then in 1969 the whole country went off when the FDA took it off the market as a possible carcinogen (though the evidence was disputed and it is still used in Mexico). I came back to my group at Burnett and relayed the story. My supervisor was very excited and said, "Wow, it's like communion!" I, however, did very badly with my creative contribution. I couldn't get pn board with "When you're hot, you're hot, you need a lot, alot, drink Funny Face." I think the creative director, who knew how much it meant to me, was very empathicthat my ideas weren't there. DSavid Miotke, another Baba Lover, however was chosen to play one of the characters in the audio demos, which shortly followed for another charcater: Sir Reginal Lime Lime. In my 43 years in the ad biz, it is one of my favorite (though crushing) stories.