By Tara Lisa Hawkins
It must have been the Bicentennial year – 1976 – when Mom, against her better judgment no doubt, bought me and Gabe Trix cereal. Gabe was seven and I was five and normally we had Cheerios or Raisin Bran or Grape-Nuts: Wholesome, brown cereals. Trix was rainbow-colored sugar and Mom did not approve of it.
The Trix people had been running a television ad campaign for as long as I could remember featuring a rabbit trying desperately to get ahold of the cereal only to be told by smug children, “Silly Rabbit, Trix is for kids.” Now, it seemed, the rabbit was going to get a chance to taste the cereal, but only if we voted to let him. Each package of the cereal provided one ballot you could turn in. Once you sent in your ballot, you got back a pin that said either “Yes” or “No,” depending upon how you voted.
I was five years old and I wanted to vote and I wanted a pin. Gabe was seven years old and he wanted to vote and he wanted a pin. We had one box of cereal and one ballot and Mom was not going to get us more Trix cereal ever again, ever. Words like, “it’s not fair” and “I want” escaped both our trembling lips. Mom told us to talk to Dad about it.
I’m pretty sure Gabe explained the problem while I stood there with tears in my eyes, certain that he was going to get to vote and wear a shiny new pin, and I was not. Dad came up with a brilliant solution: He copied the ballot (this was long before machine copiers, so he did it by hand in his engineer’s precise penmanship) and sent in one for each of us.
Eight weeks is a long time when you’re five. I had completely forgotten about the Trix debacle when mail came for me. It was a puffy yellow envelope with my name on it from the Trix people. Mom and I had to use scissors to open it and there it was: My shiny pin saying, “No.” Gabe got one that said “Yes” and of course, I was jealous. I had wanted to get exactly what he got. We compared pins. I felt mean saying the rabbit couldn’t have the coveted cereal.
I was not alone, though; the rabbit lost the election and was not allowed to have the cereal. Soon, we lost our pins and forgot about the whole thing.
eventually, Mom bought us Trix again. Eventually, we fought and cried over other injustices. Eventually, we came to Dad with new and more complex problems to solve. Eventually, we found other things to be thrilled and dissatisfied about.