A Note of Explanation from Fatty: A few weeks ago, I was forwarded one of the best email messages I’ve ever read. It was so angry. It was so confidently outraged. It was so full of righteous indignation. It was a full-on textual one-two punch, followed with a kick to the groin and a blackjack to the frontal lobe.
After reading this email, I was overtaken with the urge to write similarly angry letters. I wanted to knock some heads together. Hurt some feelings. Kick some butt, burned bridges be damned.
Furthermore, I wanted to post these letters on my blog.
Here’s the thing, though: I just couldn’t do it.
When push came to shove, I couldn’t force myself to engage in a frontal attack. I’m too
much of a pansy nice of a guy.
So instead, I decided to do the opposite of open hate mail. I’m going to write some love letters. Not just letters of appreciation, but gushing, heartfelt, downright embarrassing proclamations of my undying devotion.
By way of rules, I am keeping it simple for myself.
- I will write love letters only to companies and people who make / do something I really like.
- I will feel free to exaggerate my devotion to whatever degree I feel necessary in order to make my point.
- If an exclamation point can possibly be used as the sentence-ending punctuation, I will.
I will then send these letters to the organization or person the letter is intended for 48 hours before I post it to my blog. If I get a response worth publishing, I will include it along with my letter.
And if I get an offer for sponsorship or advertising, I will do a little dance.
With that, let’s begin.
Dear Clif Bar Representative,
I love you with all my heart. Well, not you as a person, though I am sure you have many excellent qualities. What I love are your Clif Shot Bloks.
They are the best endurance cycling food in the whole world! And if there is intelligent life on other planets, I hereby challenge them to bring forth the best endurance cycling food they have to offer and see how it compares. For I do not believe it will be as good as Clif Shot Bloks.
Yes, that’s right. I’m so confident in the quality and deliciousness of Shot Bloks that I’m ready, right this instant, to go toe-to-toe with alien beings to defend your honor! I’m that committed.
I’m sorry, I’m already getting a little bit off-track. I did not mean for this letter to be about interplanetary sports food competitions. I meant it simply to be a letter telling you that I love Shot Bloks, and I’m willing to shout it from the rooftops!
Clif Bar Representative (Oh, how I wish I knew your name!), I love riding bikes. Road bikes, mountain bikes — it doesn’t matter to me, as long as I can get out and be in the saddle for three hours or more (sometimes much, much more: I frequently do 100-mile or longer mountain bike races!). And when I’m riding, I need fuel.
For more than ten years, I searched for a perfect cycling fuel (to be perfectly honest, though, my search has not been nonstop; I have taken several breaks and have at times lost interest in the search altogether). I wanted Something that was easy on the stomach! Something that I could eat hour after hour (after hour after hour), without being repulsed by the flavor or texture (this requirement, by the way, eliminates most every energy gel out there)! Something that’s easy to carry, doesn’t require ten minutes of chewing for every bite! Something that goes down fast.
Shot Bloks are that something. I can eat a packet of them, every 40 minutes, indefinitely — or at least for 20 hours, which is what I did when racing the Kokopelli Trail last year. That’s 200 calories every 40 minutes: a nice, constant flow of calories going to my legs.
But I do not wish to make it seem as if I love Shot Bloks only because they are an easily-consumed source of on-the-bike calories! Far from it! I also like how easily I can open the package. I can tear open a package of Shot Bloks using nothing but one hand and my teeth, meaning I hardly have to slow down to eat them. Although — I must confess — I’ve accidentally torn the top of the package completely off a few times and lost it to the wind, which has, truth be known, made me feel guilty. I don’t want to be a litterbug!
Here’s a thought, Clif Bar Representative: Maybe you could look into a kind of packaging that opens with one hand, without tearing, and leaves the packaging in one piece, so racing cyclists would be able to take maximum advantage of your brilliant, delicious energy food without adversely affecting the environment.
Really, that’s my only complaint.
I hope you don’t mind my asking a question, Clif Bar Representative. That question is, "How did you do it?!" It would never have occurred to me to make a gummy-bear-like energy food. It just wouldn’t have ever entered in my brain, and I think about stuff like this all the time.
For example, I just spent twenty minutes trying to think of another energy food substance that would work just as well as Shot Bloks. But I got nothin’.
I guess that’s why you’re the ones with the successful energy food company, and I’m the one buying stuff from you, right?!
Still, I’d love to know what the origin is of Shot Bloks. Please tell me.
Oh, I actually have another suggestion, based on an experience I had last year while racing the Leadville 100. I was eating your Margarita Shot Bloks (the ones with extra extra extra sodium) pretty much constantly, figuring that with all the sweating I was doing, the extra sodium would do me good.
But then I had a problem.
I ate eaten so many Margarita Shot Bloks that the inside of my mouth started to feel like it was pickled leather — you know, the way the inside of your mouth feels when you gargle saltwater or accidentally get a mouthful of ocean water? And my stomach rebelled; I actually had a gag reflex any time I tried to eat another Margarita Shot Blok, and had to throw the remainder of the open package away, in order to avoid barfing outright!
I hope I’m not grossing you out or hurting your feelings or anything.
Long story short, I switched over to the Cran Razz flavor (my favorite flavor, by the way) and was just fine from that point forward, though I cannot to this day look at the Margarita Shot Blok package without getting a little twinge.
I’m just thinking maybe you might want to put a suggestion on the back of the Margarita flavor saying, "Don’t eat these as your only food source; mix them up with another flavor!"
Or something like that.
Although, now that I think about it, I’m probably the only person who’s ever been goofy enough to eat those Margarita Bloks as his only fuel source for several consecutive hours during a race, aren’t I?
I’m such an idiot sometimes.
Anyway, back to why I love Shot Bloks. I’ll bet I’m not the first person to tell you that these things are delicious just as a snack! Yes, it’s true. More than once I’ve gone to the cupboard to get something to eat, thought about what I want, and the answer is, "Shot Bloks!"
I tell you what: that has never been the case with a Power Bar. Probably for anyone. Ever.
Because, let’s face it, Power Bars taste like Kellogg’s Frosted Cardboard.
Anyway, I keep several packets of Shot Bloks in my car’s glove compartment, as a snack for when I am on a long drive, or for when I arrive back to my car — ravenously hungry — from a long mountain bike ride.
By the way, once Shot Bloks get really cold — like below 40 degrees (F), they become really hard to chew. I don’t think they’d be the ideal food for an Arctic expedition.
Luckily for me, I have no plans whatsoever to head to the Arctic!
I’ve kind of rambled on a bit, but I appreciate your taking the time to read my letter. Let me conclude by reiterating my main point. Shot Bloks are the greatest. Thanks for making them!
Elden (The Fat Cyclist)
Emily, a representative of Clif Bar & Company, responds
Emily, a customer service rep at Clif Bar & Company, responded to my email within 36 hours, with what is clearly not a form letter.
Thank you so much for your great email. I am so glad to hear that you are such a fan of our Shot Bloks. Though, I’m sorry to hear that your experience with the Margarita flavor was as unpleasant as it sounded. We certainly understand that not all of our flavors are for everyone.
Having many avid athletes around the office and in the kitchen definitely helps us to understand what active people need and want as far as sports nutrition is concerned.
We certainly love hearing from our consumers and are so grateful you took the time to let us know your thoughts about the Clif Shot Bloks. I have logged all of your suggestions and can assure you they will be shared with everyone.
Your suggestion for environmentally sound packaging is a great one and we are consistently challenging our suppliers to come up with the safest way to store our preservative-free energy food without adversely affecting our planet.
I would love to send you a few Bloks (not Margarita :)) as a thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
If you’d like just reply to this email with your preferred mailing address and I’ll send those your way.
Again, thank you so much for sharing your feedback.
Final Thoughts from Fatty
I have, of course, sent Emily my address. When I get the Shot Bloks, I will make them part of a giveaway.
Having completed this experiment, I have a number of questions (and that number is 5):
- Was my idea of writing a no-holds-barred, gushing, raving fan letter worth trying (and publishing)? Or did I just come across as a butt-kissing lunatic?
- Would you like to see additional love letters to cycling-related companies and / or people? And if so, who?
- What do you think the odds are that I can convert this into a full-on Clif sponsorship?
- Do you suppose Emily showed my letter around the office, asking, "Is this guy for real?"
- On a scale of 1-11, using only prime numbers, how shameless am I?