Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kellogg's Rice Krispies for Ireland: Snap, Crackle, and Bang

When the writing gig started, I couldn’t be sure I was a published magazine feature writer until I saw the magazine on the shelf at Barnes and Noble’s. Sure I had gotten (and cashed) a check weeks before. They even sent me a few copies of the magazine a couple of weeks before it hit the newsstand. However, I could not be 100% sure those advanced copies weren’t Photoshop’ed fakes until I saw the identical thing on the retail shelf.

When that finally happened, it took everything in me to not grab the magazine, flip it open to my article, and run through the store while screaming incoherent rants to the long line of foster parents, parole officers, and counselors who told me I would never amount to anything. (Mom and Pop, I know you never gave into the urge to walk away from your parental responsibility. The previous sentence is a complete fabrication that many authors (and ALL political speech writers) call “jazzing it up” in order to make a boring story a little more interesting.)

While in Ireland, Gail and I visited every bookstore we saw. (We do the same thing during our daily lives here in the States). I would immediately head to the Magazine Rack to see if I could do an international version of the Bookstore Ranting Jog. Unfortunately, most of the bookstores did not sell any woodworking periodicals. Also, the selection of woodworking literature I found in the bookstores followed a line closer to DIY Home Restoration than building fine furniture.

Then, one day in the City Centre of Galway I happened upon a large bookstore that had a significant selection of magazines. As I approached the woodworking magazines it seemed a certainty that I was going to be able to forever say that in June of 2008, I travelled to Ireland and found pictures (and an eloquent 4 page description) of my building a Windsor Tall Stool back in my homeland.

Here is what I saw….


I understand Fine Woodworking being a logical choice for export to the Emerald Island. It has International Appeal. But how can American Woodworker be required reading in Ireland with Popular Woodworking nowhere to be found? There was no PopWood anywhere in Ireland. The other tragic absence I noticed was Pop Tarts. There were no Pop Tarts in any of the groceries we visited during two weeks in Ireland.

So even though I thought about yelling at Chris Schwarz, Megan Fitzpatrick, and the entire F+W Publications team about the lack of penetration into the Irish Market, I have decided to let it go. I eventually realized that if the Multi-billion Dollar Cereal Giant from Battle Creek, Michigan cannot get shelf space for Pop Tarts, how can Popular Woodworking chisel out a niche. Clearly, all of Ireland is opposed to anything whose name starts with “Pop.”

Given the Anti-"Pop" Irish bias, my advice is for Mr. Schwarz to concentrate on Woodworking Magazine being the opening salvo of F+W’s invasion of Ireland. Meanwhile, I am currently working with Kellogg's on my plan to get PopTarts into Ireland. I have no doubt they will eventually replace either the mushrooms, the beans, or the black and white pudding in the traditional Irish breakfast.


Anonymous said...

Jeff you seem to have got around a lot over here judging by your last few blogs, hope ye had a great time. Did you find it expensive, I bet you did with the euro/dollar the way it is now. Great for us though when we go over there, a Lee Valley parcel always seems to end up arriving at my hotel.
Alas, I too have never found Popular Woodworking so I took out a sub (but you can get PopTarts).
Look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip, did you manage to make it to Sligo by any chance?

Jeff Skiver said...


We did not make it up to Sligo (now we have a reason to go back...).

We started out in Dublin, then we spent a week at a condo in East Clare. From there we took day trips to places like Kinsale, Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Galway, etc.

Yes, we did all of the tourist things (Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, Blarney Castle, etc.)

However, the thing I went to Ireland for was to hang out with the locals and absorb the culture. We were there during the Euro2008 games as well as the Lisbon Treaty vote. Probably the best memories I have is of nightly visits to pubs to watch soccer matches between teams that didn't really matter to me.

As far as the exchange rate, I let the 1.60 USD to Euro rate bother me for the first 5 minutes of the trip, and then I just realized we had planned this trip for over a year and I wasn't going to let it get spoiled by something beyond our control. So we just had a great time, and tried not to focus on the dollar version of the prices. Besides when I was traveling to Barcelona in the late 90s/early 2000s I managed to always have huge bonuses in the Dollar/Peseta conversion. So, what goes around comes around.

I figured I could find PopTarts if I searched hard enough, but at least in the 3 groceries we visited, I kept coming up short. (However, don't say anything since it destroys the underlying joke of today's blog post.)

I am assuming from your tone that you are Irish. I tell you that you have a beautiful country, and all of the Irish people we met were wonderfully nice and extended amazing hospitality to us.

As I told my mother in the blog a couple of nights ago, I will have a few more Irish stories in the coming days to make up for the 2 week hiatus from blogging.

JasonB said...

How many Irish woodworking magazines are on your local Barnes & Noble shelves? I couldn't find any in our local B & N.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

What, no Irish PopTarts?

Why, I bet folks in Ireland would go crazy over them if they were shown a demonstration of the other possibilities of their use by, say, someone from the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.