mr. nature, or what did you expect from the day after a holiday weekend

Ravenous at my desk (even after technically eating two “lunches,” such as they were), I broke down and visited the vending machine in the lunch room. I was surprised and pleased to find the trail mix pictured above, a rare healthy (and vegan) alternative aside from the usual stale pretzels found in this particular machine. I have to admit I was also drawn to the name “Mr. Nature” and the retro packaging. The real pleasure, though, came when I turned the package over and read the first sentence of the descriptive copy on the back:

“Since time began everybody used nuts as a source of food.”

Entranced, I read this sentence over and over as I walked back to my office. How had such a sentence made it onto a package of trail mix? Who penned such inexplicable prose? Lost in thought, I reached the entrance to my hallway and looked up to see my boss approach with a pained expression on her face.

“Can I bum twenty cents?” she asked, continuing to look as if it were a matter of life or death.

I opened my hand, which just happened to be full of change from the vending machine.

“Take the quarter,” I said magnanimously.

Back at my desk, I continued reading the trail mix package and found that Mr. Nature has a website.

Intrigued, I typed in the URL. The first text that appeared was a message assuring me that Mr. Nature’s peanuts were not involved in the “recent salmonella recall.” Well, that’s reassuring, I thought as I munched on my trail mix, although I’m pretty sure, unless I somehow missed another nationwide salmonella scare, that the “recent salmonella recall” in question occurred several years ago. Are people still afraid to eat peanuts, or has the Mr. Nature website simply not been updated in three years? It was an interesting question in and of itself, but I set it aside in favor of more research about my new friend Mr. Nature. However, the website turned out to be a bust in this department. There was no history of the company or personal information about who founded it (Mr. Nature himself perhaps?). It merely held product details and stat sheets for distributors and vending companies.

Cursory web searches revealed not much subjective data outside of a few product reviews, some positive and some complaining of “stale nuts.” With regard to this latter complaint, I have to admit that the almonds in my particular bag were also not at their freshest. There was also a distinct lack of the promised walnuts. But the peanuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds were plentiful and within my own expected threshold of freshness for a 60-cent bag of trail mix. More importantly, the mix quelled my hunger, at least temporarily, and hopefully for long enough to fuel my four-mile bike ride home this evening. As for the identity of Mr. Nature, and the source of the sweeping packaging copy, these mysteries must remain unsolved for now, and possibly even until time ends, at which point we will no longer need to use nuts as a source of food.

*Trail mix photo borrowed with the best intentions from the Mr. Nature website

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