Hoppin & Boppin With Ritz & Easy Cheese

Posted on July 3, 2013

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Way, way back in the early 90’s I lived in the great Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and it was there, deep in the heart of Texas, where I had my most unique experience as a professional announcer.

I was living in a little town called Seagoville and working at a bowling alley in Richardson, but whenever I got the chance I was also knocking on doors of DFW radio and television stations with an air-check and resume.

Never got any call backs from the radio and TV stations but I did get a part-time gig with a DJ service. I worked parties, birthdays, corporate affairs etc, the money was terrible, free food was an unexpected and welcome perk of the job.

Free cake, drinks and whatever catered food wasn’t scarfed by the guests and host of whichever soiree I was working that day – were fair game.

Sometimes I’d arrive at my assignment for the night, hungry and broke, the ancient Toyota I drove back then down to gas fumes and wind up eating a meal worth $100 from the wedding or retirement party or whatever occasion they needed a traveling DJ for.

The oddest job from that stint was serving Ritz crackers and Easy Cheese in Dallas/Fort Worth grocery stores while ‘spinning’ the biggest hits of the late 50’s and early 60’s, the dawn of rock-n-roll.

My grocery store gigs were a big marketing campaign around Ritz crackers, I think it was their birthday or something like that. 

I was given a huge cardboard cut-out that looked like a Wurlitzer jukebox covered in Ritz Cracker and Nabisco logos, all bright and flashy it stood ten feet tall and six feet across.

After erecting this monstrosity, I’d set up the CD players, mixing board and two big speakers that hung from a pole, usually in the front of the store near the cash registers.

All this stuff was gigantic and clunky, I am always amazed when I see a karaoke DJ run a show from a laptop, in my era DJ’s had to haul around all this bulky equipment in addition to milk crates filled with CD’s.

Anyway, after setting up the display and hooking up the equipment I’d spray a generous dollop of Easy Cheese onto a few dozen Ritz crackers, then hand them out to passersby.

In between replenishing the Ritz cracker and aerosol cheese tray, I’d fire off another song and read from the, no pun intended, cheesiest script I’d ever read from, a script provided by the Nabisco marketing team.

“The year was 1959, the Barbie doll debuted, America was watching the Twilight Zone on TV, going to the movies to see Ben Hur, and the world was enjoying the delicious, buttery taste of a Ritz cracker” or “It was 1963, the Beatles were taking the country by storm, the world met a superspy named James Bond, the Dodgers beat the Yankees to win the World Series and America was loving the taste of a Ritz Cracker.”

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I moved to Big D to seek my fame and fortune… But at least I didn’t starve during the Ritz Cracker/Easy Cheese days.

And today, over two decades after my gig as a grocery store disc jockey, the sight of Easy Cheese still makes me nauseous.

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