Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

WOW! – These Chips Were Nasty

A blast from the past …

Literally, a blast from the past ….

The year was 1998, and I was so excited when Frito-Lay introduced a new brand of fat-free potato chips called “WOW!”. The chips were made with a revolutionary new “fake-fat” called Olestra.

I just love potato chips. Of course, that means I eat too much of them, and because they are deep-fried in cooking oil, they contain lots of fat and are bad for you. I was enthralled at the possibility of eating potato chips which were “healthy” because they contained no fat – no fat at all - and promised to taste

like regular chips.


The only possible drawback is that Olestra could cause gastric issues in some people. So much so, that the package was required to have a warning on the label that read:

"This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.”

Now, this did concern me since my secret code word for that bodily function when I was a kid was “wow”, in the sense of “Mom, I have to go wow.” I don’t know if I remember that because my mom later told me, or it stuck in my brain in some Freudian way.

But the opportunity to enjoy fat-free chips clearly overrode any concerns about side effects. As soon as WOW! chips hit the stores, I rushed out and bought two big bags.

Now you probably know how this ends up, uh. Okay, you probably know where this is going – uh, still not right. Okay, I may be an idiot, but I am not a total idiot. I knew there was a risk eating these chips. I only ate a few the first time; I ate some more the next time. I think I consumed the first bag in five portions, and except for a very slight reaction after the second helping, everything was great. These chips tasted tremendous and were fat-free! WOW! I say, just WOW!

Now that Friday night, the Boston Celtics were playing a big game, so I grabbed a bag of chips, plopped down on the couch, and turned on the TV as I normally would. I didn’t even realize I was eating the WOW! chips. I guess I just considered them to be regular chips, just like any other. It was an exciting game, and sometimes I snack more when I get nervous.  

During the fourth quarter, I noticed I had eaten almost the whole bag. I then realized these were indeed WOW! chips and immediately, I became worried. I mean, they look like real chips and they taste like real chips. How was I to know?

I reasoned that if the chips had not caused a problem in small quantities, I would be fine consuming them in larger quantities. Nothing to worry about here!

However, Saturday morning, I awoke with intense abdominal cramping, feeling like my intestines contained a bomb ready to discharge. It was not so much explosive diarrhea as it was nuclear diarrhea. I held on to the  commode as one grips the bars on a thrilling roller coaster, lest I get propelled up through the ceiling. It’s like the experience of cleansing before a colonoscopy, only much more intense.

Loose stools? There were no stools, not even close. And, loose? Loose as  water is loose at Niagara Falls. Loose as air is loose in the atmosphere. Loose as Dolores Rogers was in high school.

After the explosion, I was glad to be alive. But due to my love of potato chips and my overflowing optimism, I still believed the WOW! chips had potential.

I ’m glad that’s finished. Maybe I can still eat these chips in small quantities”, I reasoned.

And I did think it was finished, that the Olestra had been purged from my system, and I could resume normal activities. But I was wrong, as they say on those cheesy television commercials:


A few hours later, I had a second explosion. Not nearly as intense as before, but uncomfortable. Then a couple of hours later, another, and another. This continued through Sunday, and I really hoped it would stop before I returned to the office on Monday.

But Monday, the blasting continued. Unfortunately, my office was on the second floor, and the bathroom was on the first floor (they circumvented the building code when they built the second-floor offices). I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know about my embarrassing problem, so I would casually walk all the way down the hall but then run like mad down the stairs before rushing into the restroom for still another explosion.

This pattern continued for a couple of days, and I thought I had been successful at concealing my problem, until one day when I was headed downstairs, the department receptionist stopped me and asked:

“Don, are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine (of course I lied), I said. “Why do you ask?”

“Because you’re green”, she replied.

“Really?” I protested, still trying to fake it.

There were two other women present in the conversation, and all three nodded their heads in agreement. Busted - so busted. So, I explained to the ladies how I had managed to turn green. Massive giggling ensued.

Immediately, I went into the restroom and examined myself in the mirror. And the ladies were correct. I was green. Not like the Hulk or the Green Giant, but I was greener than just around the gills. And as Kermit The Frog once said: It ain’t easy being green.

The discussion with my co-workers served as an intervention. Looking at my greenish reflection convinced me I needed medical help. I explained what had happened to my doctor, hoping to get a kind, empathetic response, kind of like Doc on Gunsmoke when Festus had accidentally shot himself in the foot. Or at least Marcus Welby. But I have never upset a doctor more in my life:


I started to answer. I wanted to explain how I loved potato chips and these were fat-free, and then there was this basketball game …. But I didn’t realize the doctor’s question was rhetorical.


I felt like a three-year-old who had got caught eating dirt. When he calmed down, the doctor explained that my body was attempting to expel every molecule of this foreign substance from my body.

But then, this totally bizarre predicament got even weirder. “Now, we need to blow out your colon,” the doctor said. I stared at him in disbelief, thinking I might have to eat that Colon Blow cereal from the Saturday Night Live skit.

I want you only to eat foods that give you the shitz” (I assume that “blow out your colon” and “shitz” are professional medical terms), the doctor continued. “What foods give you the shitz?”

“Sauerkraut and bean soup”, I replied.

So, his remedy for me having the shitz, was to give me more of the shitz.  I thought it sounded stupid. Maybe he was just punishing me more for ingesting “non-food”. But he does have a medical degree, and that was the only cure he offered.

And believe it or not, it worked! We did have to fumigate the house, and fortunately, they never quite figured out what died in the bathroom at work. But one of the saddest days of my life was when I had to throw away what remained of that second bag of chips into the trash.

In Wikipedia, it said sales of WOW! chips dropped after introduction because:

Olestra caused "abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fecal incontinence ["anal leakage"], and other gastrointestinal symptoms" in some customers.

Yes, no matter the context, the term “anal leakage” is never a good thing. However, Olestra remained an ingredient in some “light” chips until 2016.

And I pledge that everything, including the “medical terminology”, in this post is true, just the way it happened. In other words, it is the straight poop.





Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Do Not Criticize My Boomer Shoes

Recently I succumbed to some clickbait on one of those articles about “20 Stupid Things Boomers Still Do But Shouldn’t”. Of course, it is written by a Millennial chick who apparently doesn’t have anything better to do than make fun of people of a certain age.

It’s kind of quaint when you think about it. You see, most Millennials are stupid. Well, maybe not stupid as much as ill-educated. That’s because we Boomers decided we would like to spend all the tax money on fancy new sports stadiums instead of boring old schools. So, you sat in wretched buildings receiving substandard education from woefully underpaid teachers so that we could sit our hineys in comfy club seats, with cup holders, at the big game.

Your college education was also inferior because they had to lower the standards for all sorts of silly reasons. The most amusing part is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and you know less, even with the Internet, than boomers did at your age. Oh, and by the way, we used your Social Security contributions to buy lots of stuff. What stuff? I forget, but we blew it all on stuff. So, you will remain ignorant and will be paying for all our stuff, long after the last Boomer is laid to rest. But it’s not that articles written by Millennials making fun of Boomers irritate me in any way.

But back to the article. It included the standard items as having a landline, mailing payments, etc. However, this article did list some new stuff, such as “Boomers Still Carry Briefcases”. I already was aware of this one. At my last office job (I now work at home) eight years ago, I noticed I was the only person in the company who carried a briefcase. The younger guys carried backpacks, and the older guys didn’t need to because their heads were empty, and their briefcases would have been also.

But my briefcase was essential to me. It contained my newspaper, whoops another Boomer oddity, and other necessary objects. Okay, let’s face it, it was my man-purse. But it was large, leather and macho. And ironically, I did keep a spare pair of actual briefs in my briefcase. Because, men of a certain age sometimes experience unexpected occurrences, necessitating a change in, a change in, - a change in plans.

Also, a briefcase has many different functions. For example, the office supply usage at that last in-office job I had, unexpectedly skyrocketed the last few weeks I worked there.

Accountant: Why did the office supply costs quadruple in October but return to normal in November?

Office Manager: I have no idea.

Officially, I have no idea either. All I know is that they shouldn’t have tried to cheat me out of some unused vacation days. Oh, and if anyone needs some pens, message me.

Yes, the article was amusing until I got to #14 – Boomers Still Wear New Balance shoes. Now they had crossed the line. Now they had raised my ire. And even if it is now more challenging to raise other things, I can still erect some pretty impressive ire. This one struck a nerve because I had just purchased a spiffy new pair of shiny, white New Balance 608s the previous week.

The writer’s first criticism of New Balance is that they are not stylish. No, they are not, nor do they have to be. Back in high school, I had to wear my white Converse high-tops year-round. I needed high-tops for basketball, and my parents insisted I get my total value out of them.  

When you’ve look hideous wearing high-tops in the sweltering summer heat, you do not consider athletic shoes a fashion item. And give us Boomers credit for not falling for the scam of paying $150 for Air Jerkins that cost under $20 to produce by using slave labor in Southeast Asia. I attribute that back to our superior Boomer education. Oh, and by the way, New Balance is lauded for its ethical labor practices and is the only major manufacturer to produce some of its shoes in the U.S.A.

Boomers don’t want to make a fashion statement with our athletic shoes. We certainly don’t want to wear some of the new hideous, over-priced, cheaply-made crap that may be popular today. We prefer that others don’t even notice our casual shoes.

The second criticism of New Balance is that the shoes are “clunky”. And yes, yes, they are! They are designed to be clunky, extremely clunky. Now, I know this is a horrible feature for a Millennial. If you want to walk fast or even run, clunky shoes will slow you down. But Boomers are no longer in a hurry to get anywhere. In the words of Mumford & Sons, “I walk slow”.

New Balance shoes are heavier because the Boomers wearing them are dealing with: bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, and heel spurs. I realize you youngin’s don’t know what these are, but you will. Trust me, you will. And the extra padding and bulk of the New Balance shoes provide comfort to these aging dogs.

You see, New Balance shoes are made for Baby Boomers and marketed to Baby Boomers. It’s called target marketing, and you may have learned about this in college if you actually went to class that day.

Oh, and one final thing, did you catch the name “New Balance”? The other reason the shoes are heavier is that older people have balance issues and sturdier shoes provide more stability. They couldn’t really call them “Old Balance”, so they went with New Balance. It’s marketing brilliance!

So, you go ahead, Millennials, buy your fancy, flimsy, over-priced footwear. But for my Boomer crew, we will remain upright and comfortable in our New Balance shoes!

Cue A-Key and the Sunset Band!

Squirrels to be with you is my favorite thing, oh yeah

I can’t wait to stroll in the park again, yeah, yeah

I want to put on my my my my my

Boomer shoes

Just to boomer with you, yeah

I want to put on my my my my my

Boomer shoes

Just to boomer with you, uh huh