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Article 31—TETRIS SNACK CRACKERS BOX (1990)

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I enjoy eating food about as much as I enjoy playing video games, so I always felt obligated to sample products that combined these two addictions. Yeah, I ate Pac-Man
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cereal, Donkey Kong cereal and the hilariously named Nintendo Cereal System. Yes, I played most of the food-based games, including Kool-Aid Man, Yo! Noid and McDonald’s Monogatari. My kitchen cabinets are known to have been stocked with Franco-American Sonic the Hedgehog Pasta, Kraft Pokémon Macaroni and Cheese and Lipton’s Adventure of Link Fruit Snacks.

I’m sure that lots of video-game fans have enjoyed these same foods. But I doubt that many of them were compelled to flatten an emptied box of Salerno’s Tetris Snack Crackers and keep it in storage for 21 years, as I was. Seriously, who would bother? It’s a question that continues to be asked as I uncover more ephemera for this Web site. Every time I reach into my files and pull out an item to scan, I ask myself, “What were you thinking?” Some of the articles in my collection were saved because I thought they were historically significant. Others I may have kept because I thought that they might be worth money in the future. I can even think of a few items that remain in my collection for aesthetic reasons; I squirreled them away because I just like to look at them. But this one defies all logic. I mean, I enjoy Tetris as much as the next guy, but it’s not like I was planning to build a Tetris shrine in a china
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cabinet in my living room. (That honor has since been reserved for my collection of licensed No One Can Stop Mr. Domino merchandise.) So why did I save this?

More importantly, was Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov aware that this product existed? He was an employee of the Soviet government when he designed the game, and did not even benefit financially from the licensing of Tetris to Nintendo. Pajitnov was known to have been bewildered and greatly amused by the excess of American culture and the privileges that we take for granted. I’ll never forget the first time I met him at a Consumer Electronics Show in the early 1990s. He was signing autographs and greeting fans at the Bullet-Proof Software booth, smiling and shaking hands...while wearing bright yellow Faceball 2000 pajama pants. Tetris Snack Crackers may still have been on store shelves when he relocated to the United States in 1991; I can imagine him scratching his beard in disbelief after seeing them for the first time!  

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© 2011 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.