29 April 2011

Squirrels in the Royal family tree

It’s not the tree, it’s the acorns. Any self-respecting squirrel knows that.

And so, with that, British uber-bride, Kate Middleton, endeared herself to the rodentia of the world by dangling silver acorns on either side of her head on her wedding day.

With those ears, William’s bride also won some squirrels’ hearts. She couldn’t have done it with the confection that was her white Sarah Burton dress – or with its voluminous 9-foot train. She couldn’t even have come close to wooing them with her sparkling Cartier tiara.

She had to hang two tree nuts from her lobes.

The earrings were inspired by the brand new Middleton family coat of arms, an insignia clad with three acorns – symbolizing Kate and her two siblings.
And somewhere in the trees not far from Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, the squirrels were perched on branches applauding. On nature's own receiving line, they were chittering, stamping their feet and flicking their tails – the squirrel equivalent, one would assume, of cheering.

But these squirrels weren’t throwing any rice. On this day, only the best of nature’s confetti would do: they got busy digging up – what else? – some acorns of their own.

15 April 2011

One bright-eyed, bushytailed business

It's time to debunk two myths - both deal with things that are everywhere and, we hope, are equally well-loved: flying squirrels and peanut butter.

Flying squirrels do not, in fact, fly. These small arboreal rodents glide by the grace of a membrane, known as a patagium, located between their front limbs and their bodies.

And peanut butter (we're talking about the good kind here) does not stick to the roof of your mouth. Properly prepared, it delivers a melt-in-your-mouth experience that is as savory and satisfying to humans as, well, nuts would be to any self-respecting squirrel.

Which brings us to our next point: To all those disgruntled restaurant patrons who've ever cried out, "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup," we say, stop ordering the soup. Tell the waiter to bring you a Flying Squirrel in your Peanut Butter instead.

There are, of course, no flying squirrels in peanut butter. But in Eugene, Oregon, two squirrel-loving entrepreneurs have fashioned a peanut-butter spread that has every bit of the appeal of a cute furry face begging at the door for goodies. Even the logo for Flying Squirrel Peanut Butter, complete with wings and cherubic countenance, says: "adorable."

Two college roommates, faced with an unexpected peanut-butter shortage at home one day, cracked that problematic nut by plugging in the food processor and creating their own, and soon liked the real thing so much, they began experimenting with a variety of imaginative ingredients. Soon, word-of-mouth led to orders. And then more orders. Finally, a website, a blog and - yes - a business and business partnership.

By admission of her friend and business partner, Keeley Tillotson, Erika Welsh is the squirrelier of the duo. She channels her inner sciurus carolinensis by storing a cache of her daily uneaten snacks, digging them up, as needed, as the afternoon progresses.

But both adore squirrels and are practiced in the friendly chatter of the business world: They are using it to expand their homespun nest, one nut at a time.

Ah, but debunking myths only goes so far: This is one peanut butter that sticks in people's minds and this is one Flying Squirrel that has really flown: Humans clearly love it. Crave it. Want it. And are ordering it.

Still, the ultimate field test remains: What do the squirrels think? We await word back from the woodlands where, even now, the small fur-bearing captains of industry have just caught the scent of freshly ground nuts in the Oregon air and their mouths are salivating with curiosity.