Thursday, April 23, 2009

Putting the 'Ceiliog' in Corn Flakes.

If I have two or four hours to spare, and the weather's OK, I like to deliver leaflets around a Montgomeryshire village - and there are lots of them. If there's between 100 and 300 letter boxes, I'm quite happy to do it on my own. Tonight, I leafleted the entire village of Penybontfawr, famous for its male voice choir and for the ladies of the village who stripped off (very tastefully) for a charity calender. I still recall a lady named Kim, completely starkers, livening up one of the pages of the Montgomeryshire County Times. It came as a great shock to CT readers, almost as much of a shock as last week, when there was a photograph on page 2 of a naked football supporter doing a handstand, without a stitch on except for what looked like a large sock dangling over his penis. It had the effect of making him look like an aroused horse. Anyway, I delivered to every house in Penybonyfawr tonight with eager anticipation - but all the ladies and gentlemen I met were very properly attired.

One of the pleasures is that I usually hear of some new fascinating snippet of knowledge. Tonight it was about the famous Welsh harpist, Nansi Richards Jones. There was a plaque on the wall of one of the houses in Penybontfawr, recording that it was her home. The only personal connection I have with Welsh harpists (that I know of) is that the famous Sian James and I are of the same family, 'Y Jamsiaid'. But back to Nansi, and the interesting snippet of information. She spent a lot of time in America, and became very friendly with Mr Kellogg - and it was she that suggested to him that he should adorn the boxes of his new product, Corn Flakes, with a cockerel. There were several reasons behind this suggestion. Firstly of course, the cockerel is very much a creature of the dawn, and by extension, the breakfast. But the 'killer connection' was that the Welsh word for cockerel is 'Ceiliog' which sounds very much like 'Kellogg' when pronounced in that part of America - and Nansi was a dedicated Welsh speaker, as are so many others in Penybontfawr today. Its clear that if she hadn't been such a wonderful harpist, she could have made her fortune as a 'marketing executive'.


B Griffiths said...

Also the colour on the box of Kellogs Corn Flakes if you notice is red, green and white. Mr Kellog was struck by the colours of the Welsh national flag, which Nansi Jones has shown him once, and decided to use the those colours to market Kellogs Corn Flakes.

Anonymous said...

And of course there's Ieuan Jones in Meifod - a very fine harpist, who is prof of harp at the Royal College of Music. He has built a music room in his house and puts on world class concerts there.

'DC Corn Cob' said...

The mention of corn flakes brings back a nice memory with my then American father-in-law. He was driving me someplace and it was incredibly dark. Rural roads in Illinois are often not lit. Quite often ‘you’ are driving along between large cornfields.

I can't remember now if the moon was out, but we were talking and my FIL (Bill) mentioned that corn makes a noise when it grows (I married a beautiful American while doing a post-doc in the UK). I must have made a funny face - or looked at him sideways (probably looked at him sideways - I doubt he could see my face as it was pretty dark in the car), and he stopped the car and we stepped out.

As I recall it now, it was very balmy with the temperature probably still in the 90s and humidity through the roof, and yes, the corn was making lots of cracking sounds - Bill said the corn stalks on a good night could grow several inches and as they grow. The “wall of sound” cracking noises convinced me that Bill was not pulling my leg.

Glyn Davies said...

BG - Henceforth I will change from muesli to corn flakes on March 1st.

Anon - And the Music Room overlooks the eisteddfod field. Last event I attended was a Sunday afternoon listening to Ffion Hague reading extracts from her excellent book about the women in the life of David Lloyd George - The pain and the Prejudice.

DC Corn Cob - Daresay you are refering to maize, which I have not heard make the noise you speak of. Its grown much more in the UK now that new varieties have been developed to prosper in our climate - and anyway the crop usually goes into silage rather than be harvested for grain - which we still import. So you would probably not have the same sounds in Britain as you would in your corn belt.

Frank H Little said...

The cockerel did not appear on Kellogg's boxes until after the death of WK Kellogg in 1951. The red, white and green colours were there in 1906 (and were as likely to attract the Italians as Welsh). There is a timeline on the official Kellogg site.

Besides, Ron McConville of Taibach assures me that it was a Briton Ferry man who told Kellogg about the Welsh cockerel. :-)

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Yeah, at night on a rural road with no traffic and huge fields with high corn plants both sides of the road. They (the corn plants) along side the road seemed to me to be very tall (I guess the moon must have been out) and the noise a whole field makes in the summer on humid nights, lots of cracking noises, not from one corn plant, but from hundreds if not thousands of corn plants within hearing range.

I haven't seen any corn fields near DC, mostly pastures for dairy cattle or so it seems to me. I took my mother on a trip out west from DC and the scenery gets very nice - Shenandoah area, out towards West Virginia (but I think still on the VA side of the state border), rolling hills and pastures, very beautiful. We did a Thanksgiving Day trip out there.

It's very green here - lots of trees and vegetation. The rural areas of Illinois seemed a lot harsher to me, probably because the vegetation is hit back by the brutal cold winters - a lot more brutal that anything experienced in VA (Virginia). As they say in Chicago, "stinking cold" winters are the norm. When the temperature really drops there is no snow, the air can't hold moisture and if you scuff your feet on a carpet you can get electrical shocks upon touching a door knob, I learnt to earth myself to avoid silly shocks - and not hold out my fingers near door knobs and put the flat of my hand against the body of a car before putting a key into a car door. No problem in humid summer weather, not really a problem on cold winter days, but I prefer not to have a small electrical shock grounding through a door knob!

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - How on earth do you know all this. You really are the sort of bloke who would tell a three old kid that there's no such person as Father Xmas. I was reporting, with complete accuracy what I wa stold outside the pub in Penybontfawr - and I believed every word of it - until you spoilt things.

Bynbrynman said...

I've just set up a sous-site on Americymru for Breton/Welsh connections. I hope you won't mind my borrowing this article to illustrate the origins of the Kellog's cockerel.

Alexander said...

Nansi Richards was known as aunty Nansi to many people, my grandmother was Sarah Jane Richards, and her father was the eldest of 12 sons of which Nansi was the daughter of one of them, so they were 1st cousins. the Kellogs story was often mentioned in the family and to add a bit more detail that may be of interest, her sponsers in America were Henfy Ford and Dr.Kellog and it was the morning after her concert at Carnegie Hall in New York that she mentioned to Dr.Kellog that his name was like Ceiliog and she explained that it was Welsh for cockrel. Nansi was also given a gold harp in America but the customs would not allow her to take it out of the country so she donated it to an orphanage in New York.