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The Man Buried in a Pringles Can

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
Timeline

Fredric Baur dreamed up the original Pringles can. Now he's buried in one.

In 1966, Baur came up with a clever way for Procter & Gamble to stack chips uniformly rather than tossing them in a bag. He was so proud of the achievement, he wanted to go to his grave with it. So when Baur died last month, his children buried the 89-year-old's ashes in one of his iconic cans. (See pictures of what the world eats.)

"When my dad first raised the burial idea in the 1980s, I chuckled about it," Baur's eldest son Larry, 49, told TIME. Larry Baur quickly realized his father was serious. Family jokes circulated about the Pringles plan, but no one questioned the elder Baur's decision. So when Frederic Baur died after a battle with Alzheimer's, Larry and his siblings stopped at Walgreen's for a burial can of Pringles on their way to the funeral home. "My siblings and I briefly debated what flavor to use," Baur says, "but I said, 'Look, we need to use the original.'"

If there were a junk food hall of fame, the original Pringles can would stand proudly next to a Toblerone pyramid in the exhibit on ingenious packaging shapes. Baur's canister has become a treasured symbol of snack culture around the globe, as recognizable as a Hershey bar or Coke can from Argentina to Zambia.

"It's all about the inherent beauty and power of uniformity," says Eric Spitznagle, author of The Junk Food Companion. "Every chip looks the same, acts the same." (See why potato chips are good comfort food.)

Not everyone liked the Pringles can when it first hit the market. "People resented it," says Phil Lempert, founder of supermarketguru.com. Uniform chips didn't jell with 1960s-era individualism, he says. "You gave up the fun of eating potato chips, looking for the big ones, the small ones, the ones shaped liked Elvis." Lempert said it took consumers years to appreciate Pringles' uniform size, shape and color. "The Pringles can was a revolution within the realm of snack food," says Baur.

Although Fredric Baur earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and served in the Navy as an aviation physiologist, the Pringles can proved his biggest hit. At one point Baur engineered a freeze-dried, just-add-milk ice-cream product called Coldsnap. Despite a product team that included a young Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's CEO, the elder Baur achieved more success with his can than the cone.

Baur's Pringles can helped inspire a burst of innovation in supermarket product packaging. In the tradition of the culinary pioneers who transformed Toblerone into a pyramid, cheese into string and doughnut holes into round Munchkins, here are a few post-Baur supermarket design triumphs.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Ecuador
Timeline
In 1966
Has it really been that long? I can remember when they came out, ufff man.

06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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