A sweet partnership
After Ken Caminiti returned to Houston, it was only fitting that he appeared on a cereal box with his pals Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
Ken Caminiti’s return to Houston following the 1998 season renewed a sweet partnership he shared with friends and longtime teammates Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
The trio represented the crunch in the Astros’ lineup. It was only fitting that they appeared together on a box for Houston’s Triple Play, a honey nut toasted oats cereal produced by Famous Fixins.
My book Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever is available wherever books are sold.
The box shows Ken holding an upside-down Astros helmet filled with cereal. Bagwell and Biggio are on either side of Ken, holding spoonfuls of the sugary snack.
The cereal box came together with the help of Rick Licht, an agent and attorney with an eye to entertainment ventures who began representing Ken near the end of his Padres days the season prior.
"We've discovered a niche that hasn't been explored. We are taking baseball players and pairing them with a product people eat every day," Jason Bauer, president of Famous Fixins said at the time, failing to consider that Wheaties, Post and Kellogg’s had been doing just that decades earlier. Over the years, baseball players have been used to market everything from bread, cookies, ice cream, Jello, hot dogs, dog food, dessert snacks, tea, and chocolate, to potato chips.
But Famous Fixins struck right in the heart of late 1990s tackiness. Other similar cereal boxes popped up in grocery stores across the country.
Flutie Flakes (Doug Flutie)
Jeter’s (Derek Jeter)
Zo’s O’s (Alonzo Mourning)
Slammin’ Sammy’s (Sammy Sosa)
Cal’s Classic O’s (Cal Ripken Jr.)
Barry Bonds MVP Crunch
ARod’s 40/40 Crunch (Alex Rodriguez)
Peyton’s O’s (Peyton Manning)
Quarterback Crunch (John Elway)
Jake's Flakes (Jake Plummer)
The company also developed Olympia Dukakis Greek Salad Dressing, Erik Estrada plantain chips, and a Britney Spears CD bubble gum line.
Some of the proceeds for cereal sales went to charities personal to the players, such as Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation. In the case of Houston’s Triple Play, a portion of the proceeds went to D.A.R.E., or Drue Abuse Resistance Education, which was popular in the 1990s but was shown to have a mixed record of curbing drug use.
At the same time Ken was appearing on the cereal box with the D.A.R.E. side panel, he was struggling with his own addictions.
Famous Fixins had a shelf life, just as the oats and flakes within its boxes. But it was nice to see Ken, Craig and Jeff together again after half a decade apart.