March 20, 2008

Saving the economy, one corn flake at a time...

Earlier this week, we couldn't keep up with the eBay auction of an oversized corn flake shaped like the state of Illinois.

Now it appears the entire U.S. economy may be revived because of that one auction. More than one hundred copycats and hangers-on have filled the eBay auction world with similar items. An eBay search for "corn flake Illinois" produced 105 separate auctions this morning ... there are probably more by now.

Dare we say it: There sure are a lot of flakes on eBay!

To briefly recap for those of you who may have tuned in late: Our first link to the auction on Monday night, about 6 p.m., said bidding had reached $6,600. Within half an hour, it was up to $60,000; by Tuesday night it hit $200,000 -- this is for a single oversize corn flake, remember! P.T. Barnum was wrong, after all; Fools are born more frequently than one a minute.

But suddenly, without warning, the corn flake auction disappeared. Well, that mystery's been solved: The auction ran afoul of eBay's prohibition against selling "food" on the site.

And now it's back: This time -- you have to admire the ingenuity -- you're bidding not for the corn flake, but rather for a "coupon" redeemable for the actual "NOT edible" corn flake. (Get the distinction? We don't either.) Already the bidding is up to $1,025 -- far more than Chesapeake, VA, sisters Melissa McIntyre, 23, and Emily, 15, ever hoped to receive for their Kellogg's Frosted Flake. (UPDATE: After 68 bids, the corn flake went for $1,350. The winner, eBay member "Triviamania," won with a bid placed just seven seconds before the auction's scheduled end.)

But that's not what fascinates us. Rather, it's all the poseurs and copycats. Bid carefully; why some of these aren't even Frosted Flakes! Raisin bran, feh!

Here are just a few headings from the copycat auctions.
-- The ULTIMATE REAL ILLINOIS CORN FLAKE, which doesn't look anything like the state (no bids yet, with an ambitious starting price of $9.99.)
--The Great Illinois corn flake Honest Abe Lincoln, a penny-sized clumsily nibbled flake overpriced at 99 cents. ("Four score and seven Special K's ago...")
--The Original Illinois Frosted Corn Flake, which isn't the original at all, but which comes with a bonus: "It has been brought to our attention that you can see the face of JFK" on the side of the corn flake. How rare is that!!! Get two rare finds for the price of one!"
--The Great Illinois Corn Flake Commemorative T-Shirt; after six bids it's up to $5.50. ("Someone else got the darn corn flake but I got the t-shirt.")
--Illinois Corn Flake Display Frame, so far no takers at $24 -- probably waiting until they win the main auction.
--Torn Paper in the Shape of Illinois Corn Flake, as promised, although no corn flake processing is involved. It's just a piece of paper, which the "artist" promises to sign if the winning bidder requests. Already at $5.50 after six bids.
--The Original Illinois Corn Flake Site Domain Name -- hurry!
--Barack Obama with the Great Illinois Corn Flake Ear Picture. Pretty much what it says: a photo of Obama with corn flake ears. Not autographed. ("Do not copy" is printed over the photograph. As if.)

And so it goes: Bermuda, Michigan, South Carolina, Jesus and heart-shaped look-a-like corn flakes; a t-shirt with an Illinois-shaped coffee stain; the corn flake's "embryo" and its "stunt double;" buttons declaring your unfortunate loss of the actual corn flake auction; certificates "proving" you were a bidder ... why, even a spoon to eat it with.

So far -- we'll save you the trouble of looking -- there have been no auctions offering corn flakes in the shape of Wisconsin or Brett Favre. (But if any of you find such rare and wonderful, and obviously collectible corn flakes, please call us first!)

P.S. Here's a Wisconsin-shaped pothole!

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