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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Loser Pudding: Jell-O Dispensaries, Ronnie Lott Given the Bum's Rush

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge After hurling cups of pudding to surehanded fans, Ronnie Lott barks out "You're like Crabtree!" - ANNA LATINO
  • Anna Latino
  • After hurling cups of pudding to surehanded fans, Ronnie Lott barks out "You're like Crabtree!"

Yesterday we reported on Jell-O's bizarre and more than a little demeaning plan to ease the pain of San Francisco 49ers fans by doling out free pudding to the hapless denizens of the Super Bowl's loser city.

The plan to unload large amounts of free food, often in San Francisco's grittier neighborhoods, went about how you'd think it would. A Jell-O commercial became an impromptu dispensary on Ninth and Market, as men and women in worn hoodies and grimy jeans groped with both arms into the pudding vat, carting off mass quantities of the ersatz dessert. "You're just supposed to take one!" snarled a pudding worker to a sunken-eyed woman smoking a cigarette down to the butt and loping away with a dozen pudding cups. Jell-O's smarmy tagline leading into their Loser Pudding giveaway was "nothing masks the bitter taste of defeat like the sweet taste of Jell-O Pudding!" Many of the folks helping themselves to armfuls of pudding apparently required extra large masks following strings of defeats a bit more consequential than losing some football game.

The workers regulating the flow of Jell-O to San Francisco's downtrodden population were polite and professional. But this was a rough gig. "I'd rather have a Vince Lombardi trophy, too," admitted one. 

See Also: Super Bowl XLVII: Damn It!
Super Bowl Losers Offered Mediocre Desserts

click to enlarge It's pudding time! - ANNA LATINO
  • Anna Latino
  • It's pudding time!

Ronnie Lott was one of the greatest defensive players to ever set foot on a gridiron. As we noted yesterday, he made a career of transforming other men's innards into pudding, so it's fitting he's now benefiting from the product.

Even Lott, however, couldn't defend his refrigerator full of pudding from hungry interlopers. While he addressed an adoring crowd at Broadway and Columbus today, a chubby, unshaven man toting a pink Chinatown plastic bag slipped behind him and began loading up on pudding. Lott caught him in the act -- and treated him more gently than a wide receiver on a crossing route.

"What are you doing, man?" asked an incredulous Lott. The pudding hoarder paused, smiled broadly, and let loose a slightly demented laugh of the sort one would make while auditioning for the part of Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men. Apparently he didn't want the pudding -- he needed it. Lott intuited this, allowed the hoarder to wander off, and began tossing more pudding cups to the crowd.

At this point, it warrants mentioning that Lott was a fanatically driven competitor with such an insatiable thirst for victory that he actually opted to have part of his pinky finger amputated rather than have delicate surgery that would have possibly cost him playing time. Asked by SF Weekly how he'd have reacted if someone tried to cheer him up with a cup of pudding following the championship game in '91, he laughed and said, "I tell you, I'd have needed a lotta pudding if we'd have lost that one."

Alas. The Niners did lose that one (that's the Roger Craig game). Anybody attempting to console Lott with pudding would probably be descending from orbit by about now.

San Francisco fans, however, were a less spiteful lot. Despite the fact that Jell-O's promotion set marks for condescension, locals were happy to devour Loser Pudding. Event staff said no one stated they were insulted with the premise of being offered a cup of pudding to make up for an agonizing Super Bowl loss. "Everyone pretty much just wants their free stuff," said one worker. Fans broke into cheers of "We're No. 2!" and one genius told the camera crews, "There's always next year! Go Giants -- I mean, Niners!" It's a good thing the 1991 version of Ronnie Lott didn't show up. Many pinky fingers would have been severed on this day.

As you've likely gleaned by now, Jell-O isn't doing this just to make us feel better. This was all part of a national ad campaign. Those whose testimonials are used in the ad figure to make the Screen Actors Guild day rate of somewhere between $580 and $760. And if you're lying about how you feel about Jell-O, then it's on you. Per the consent and release form:

If I have made any statements about my personal opinions, findings, beliefs, experience or preferences regarding any products and/or services, including, without limitation, Kraft products and/or services, I hereby certify that such statements are true and represent my current honest opinions, beliefs, findings or experiences.

Perhaps this weeded out those who were incensed at a concerted effort to tease and infantilize local fans and would have said as much.

Finally, the nitty-gritty. If the Niners had won, a Jell-O crew was set to deploy to Baltimore; Tony Siragusa -- who turned Rich Gannon into Jell-O -- would have been handing out product.

Jell-O's Free Sample Merchandise and Temporary Occupancy permits were only finalized yesterday; they were approved by the Department of Public Works after first being greenlit by the Film Commission.

The Free Sample Merchandise permits run $118.63 per day for one or more locations. The DPW demanded and received a $500 deposit "to ensure that the area is clean to the satisfaction of DPW." So, if large numbers of irate Niner fans tossed down their free Jell-O in defiance, the cleaning cost beyond the deposit would be borne by Jell-O.

That's not likely to happen, though. The guy with the pink bag would likely eat that stuff right off the pavement.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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