Remember Euell Gibbons, the man who would ''eat a pine tree'' on TV?

This naturalist sold cereal — and was often spoofed — in the Seventies.

Writing about Grape-Nuts and its intertwined history with The Andy Griffith Show yesterday, we took a trip down memory lane. The cereal had some of the most memorable commercials of the Seventies. Sure, the sweeter breakfast bowls offered toons like Tony, Sam, and Lucky — and Life had the charming Little Mikey who "liked it" — but Grape-Nuts utilized a colorful character of its own. And he was a true flesh-and-blood eccentric.

Euell Theophilus Gibbons had been a hobo, beachcomber, boat builder, cowboy, communist, carpenter, 36-year-old college freshman, and Quaker. He led a fascinating life, but it was his fascinating diet that brought him fame.

In 1962, Gibbons published Stalking the Wild Asparagus, a book on the wonders of foraging for natural foods. Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop and Stalking the Healthful Herbs quickly followed, as the fiftysomething naturalist became a pop-culture phenomenon. He had hippie appeal, but it was hard to pin such a rugged wanderer to the hippie movement. He helped kick-start the health-food movement in America.

But, really, what he is best remembered for is the immortal question, "Ever eat a pine tree?"

Gibbons posed the question in a 1970s Grape-Nuts commercial. The cereal blew up in popularity thanks to a series of commercials with ol' Euell. The straightforward ads followed the naturalist out into the field, as he wandered through willows, cattails, and woods. He plucked leaves, twigs, nuts, and berries and popped them into his mouth, before settling down at his breakfast table for a bowl of Grape-Nuts.

"Its naturally sweet taste reminds me of wild hickory nuts," he repeatedly said of the cereal's flavor.

Comedians spoofed the ubiquitous commercials. On MeTV, you might have seen a parody. 

In the fall of 1973, The Carol Burnett Show welcomed regular guest John Byner. Near the end of his episode, Byner put on bushy white eyebrows, a wild wig, flannel shirt, and bandana. "Ever lick a river?" he asked.

Byner on The Carol Burnett Show

This fellow was not-so-subtly named "Yule Twibbons." He also began by asking, "You ever eat a pine tree?"… before going on to pop questions like, "Ever suck on a sunflower?" and "Ever try eating some pebbles?" 

"Yule" then sat down at a wooden table. And began eating the wooden planks of the table. Two orderlies come to take him away. Yule bites one on the forearm. "There's also nourishment in the human arm!" he declares before being dragged off camera.

Other shows poked fun at Euell. The children's show The Electric Company did a similar send-up for kids.

Gibbons would pass away in 1975, from complications due to his Marfan syndrome. The commercials and comedy stopped, understandably. But his question stuck in the head of everyone who lived through the era: "You ever eat a pine tree?" Well, did ya?

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Cougar90 13 months ago
I remember Euell and he inspired me to write my own book, "Stalking The Wild Chocolate Milk Shake."
Coldnorth 34 months ago
Have a shot of cheap gin. Instant pine needle taste
Jimo 35 months ago
Ever eat a pinecone.....some parts are edible.
Jimo 34 months ago
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kimmer 35 months ago
I begged my mom to buy a anxious and broke 3 braces off my teeth....alas grape nuts were no more!
vinman63 35 months ago
Anyone who would eat a pine tree must be nuts?
LH 35 months ago
Best comment I remember from Johnny Carson. It put my mother in stitches. When talking about Euell Gibbons and his health food, Johnny Carson said, “you’ll live til you’re a hundred, but you’ll wish you were dead.” My mom STILL cracks up when I say that, and she’s 91 ! She doesn’t remember a lot at 91 but she still remembers that!!!
kimmer LH 35 months ago
I remember!!!!
LH kimmer 35 months ago
Now THAT was a GREAT line !!!
StrayCat 35 months ago
I remember those Euell Gibbons commercials. I was pretty young at the time and this really old guy came on TV espousing eating healthy food. What struck me was how feeble old and shaky he was, so i vowed never to eat whatever he was eating.
obectionoverruled 35 months ago
Gibbons died of Marfan Syndrome. I looked it up. Exhibited by body’s inability to develop adequate connective tissue! What? Celebrated victims included Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Michael Phelps and everyone’s favorite Moslem - Bin Laden. Victims tend to be tall, thin, with extended digits, metatarsals and limbs. Dang, I just conducted a self exam and am happy to report I don’t have this disease.
Michael obectionoverruled 35 months ago
I haven't eaten meat since 1979 (though I still enjoy junk food of a vegetarian kind) and had a kidney failure in early 2019, brought on by a rare autoimmune disease. But I didn't do it for health reasons.
JHP Michael 35 months ago
Oh c'mon try some cheap weenies from aldi for 80 cents :) for an 8 pack
JHP 35 months ago
JHP Pilaf 35 months ago
it took this long to get a rise from the gang:)

sorry but once in awhile cheapie hot dogs - diced onion on a bun - yummo
AnnieM 35 months ago
I remember those commercials well. I also remember him being a frequent punchline for Johnny Carson. My Grandma liked Grape Nuts; the one time I tried them, I thought I'd break a tooth! Now with all of those 'overnight' oats & grain cups out there, it might be a good time for me to try them again using that method.
AnnieM 35 months ago
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Michael stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
I think she's saying "soak the Grape Nuts overnight"
AnnieM Michael 35 months ago
Yes, soaking them overnight in the fridge! I've tried some of these granola-like cups that way, and found I really like them; everything gets nice and chewy.
geatornez82 35 months ago
Tim Conway did a bit on the Carol Burnett Show as Euell Gibbons once. "I'm gonna go eat your garage!"
geatornez82 35 months ago
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LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Yes- The Electric Company spoof link they provided in the story was funny. The st sounds.
LoveMETV22 35 months ago
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LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Yes in the story if you click on the blue link " The Electric Company did a similar send-up" it's an Electric Company spoof of him focused on the "st" sound. I haven't seen the others you mention. I will have to check them out.
Here's the clip with Tim Conway doing Euell Gibbons. The part with Tim as Euell starts at 2:33.
stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
John Byner as Georgie Jessel had me in stitches!
UTZAAKE 35 months ago
Those Euell Gibbons Grape-Nuts TV commercials were so ubiquitous in the early-1970s. Unfortunately so were his detractors who were incredibly merciless at the time. All he did was raise awareness about foraging which actually comes in handy especially when one is out in the wild. He also contributed a few articles about foraging in the National Geographic magazine. Just glad that I got to understand the importance of his message as an adult. Oh, and Grape-Nuts is a good cereal.
Michael UTZAAKE 35 months ago
I noticed, because of this, that he'd written for National Geographic. I'll have to dig out the issues. I surely saw them at the time, but the name wouldn't have meant anything.
Rick 35 months ago
I remember the iconic line being, "Did you know most parts of a pine tree are edible?"

Am I misremembering?
Moverfan Rick 34 months ago
I remember it as many parts of the pine tree, but I couldn't tell you who's right. Maybe we could ask Mrs. Olson (if she's not busy making coffee)...or Josephine the plumber...
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Michael 35 months ago
The DVDs came long after I stopped buying cereal, but I bought some boxes to get the DVDs, I was just starting to buy them.s

I'mnot sure I saw the records, I can sort of visualize them, but not strongly, so maybe I just read about them.

Were they really cardboard, or those very thin vinyl like they sometimes put in magazines?

The boxtops were for more substantial things (and a name of a band). And probably more for other products, it's harder outting a toy in soup. Some products had deals often enough that my mother would keep the labels and boxtops, to be ready when an offer came along.

Nowadays the really good offers seem to require the "boxtops" and the cash register slip, with the item circled, to prove you bought the item.
35 months ago
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JHP 35 months ago
give me capt crunch anything - gees what a A1C bomb
Moverfan 34 months ago
Back in the late sixties/early seventies, my mom bought Fab detergent both because it worked and because they had glasses (the kind you drink from) in the box. We had quite a few of them at one time.
OlgaBagley 35 months ago
I hate to admitted. But I rember him🤦🏼‍♀️
Andybandit 35 months ago
I never heard of this guy or saw the commercial.
Andybandit 35 months ago
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MrsPhilHarris 35 months ago
I love Grape Nuts but they aren’t made in Canada anymore. 🤨
daDoctah MrsPhilHarris 35 months ago
You've got Shredded Wheat (says "the original Niagara Falls cereal" right on the box). Be content with that.
MrsPhilHarris daDoctah 35 months ago
Actually I like Shredded Wheat. 😃 But it is not even close to the same taste.
MrsPhilHarris 35 months ago
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Sadly I never got to try it. In fact I’ve never heard of it.

I live in B.C. Borders are closed so I can’t even cross the line and go to Fred Meyers to buy it.
LoveMETV22 35 months ago
That is a unique name. Yule, Euell. The only other I can think of is Yul Brynner. Anyone else know of any famous Yules? besides yule logs LoL
LoveMETV22 35 months ago
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35 months ago
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Michael 35 months ago
When I think of Post cereal, I think of Alpha-Bits and other sugar ladened cereal. The good stuff.

Did Euell Gibbons know Will Geer? They must have been in the same circles.

I think in 1962, it was camping that made his book attractive. If you're out in the woods, here's food. I think I remember digging for clams around that time. It's later in the decade that his books became more popular.

I never saw the ad. But I probably first heard his name in Lary Gross's "Junkfood Junky", played on Dr. Demento.
Peter_Falk_Fan Michael 35 months ago
I agree. When I was a kid, our usual Post cereal was either Honeycomb or Super Sugar Crisp. Usually, though, our choice of cereals depended on the toy inside.
Michael Peter_Falk_Fan 35 months ago
And despite the sugar, there were some I didn't like, but had to eat because I wanted the prize. Or more like the box sat unfinished, no new cereal until it was finished
Moverfan Michael 35 months ago
"I'm a friend of old Euell Gibbons and I only eat home-grown spice/I got a John Keats autographed Grecian urn filled up with my brown rice, yes, I do..."
otrdriver69 Peter_Falk_Fan 35 months ago
The usual cereal when I was a kid was either Quaker Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. T!!!hen graduated to Captain Crunch, Quisp, and Quake. Love the sugar
birddog 35 months ago
I do remember Euell on TV with some of his adventures! Did try some of that wild weed growing!! Jury still out on that one :))
birddog 35 months ago
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birddog stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Wow! still trying to figure that one out RRR ✌
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