My early life was hard as a rock. Most baby boomers never experienced anything like it. I was dirt poor and dropped out of school in the 6th grade. I knocked around the country for years doing anything to survive, from cowboy to carpenter. Yes, I was a hobo. It wasn’t such a dirty word back then because there were a lot more of us.
I wanted to write fiction but couldn’t get published. In 1962, I did a book about the only thing I really knew: scrounging for wild food.
I was in the the right place at the right baby boomer time. There was this growing back-to-the-land idea that turned into a national movement. At the core of the hippie and new age way of life was a return to a simpler culture where natural foods made up the diet.
My book was a Jolly Green Giant of a hit and I become an overnight pop culture celebrity. I was green before boomers made the idea hip. A reviewer said: “The lore here can turn every field, forest, swap, vacant lot and road into a health food market with free merchandise.”
I followed up with a couple of natural food cookbooks. Baby boomers scooped them up. Major magazines carried my stories about going to an uninhabited island and living off what I could find, or taking my kids on a trip across Western states looking for wild food. New age types called me a visionary, a pioneer.
I appeared on the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and the Johnny Carson Show. I was probably best known for my Post Grape Nut Flakes television commercials. These activities lost me some supporters, especially among more eco-radical baby boomers, who called me a sell-out and poked fun at my irreverence. I was also criticized for cooking with lots of saturated fats and being a heavy smoker. Pardon the pun—it sounded like a bunch of sour grapes.
An early Grape-Nuts health ad
I died at 64. Considering the hard life I led, I’m a little surprised I survived that long. There were all kinds of wild rumors about my death, like I ate a poisonous plant or chocked on wild roots. All bunk.
I’m a modest man, but it’s not an exaggeration to call me one of the fathers of the baby boomer health food revolution. Answer at end of post.
One of many books inspired by our celebrity
We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~ Alfred E. Newman, Mad Magazine
Eating an artichoke is like licking 20 postage stamps. ~ Miss Piggy
Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. ~ Doug Larson, journalist
As a child my family’s menus consisted of two choices: take it or leave it. ~ Buddy Hackett, comedian
►Euelle Gibbons’ first book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, was followed by Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop and Stalking the Healthful Herb.
►When presented with what looked like a wooden plaque on television by Sony & Cher, Gibbons took a big bite of it, a classic television moment. (It was made from edible material).
Watch the famous Grape-Nuts TV commercial→ REMINDS ME OF WILD HICKORY NUTS