Question: I remember watching Grape Nuts ads that had Euell Gibbons in them when I was a kid. Who was he, anyway? — Tim W., Toledo, Ohio
Televisionary: Gibbons was a wild-foods expert and writer whose best-known works include Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Stalking the Healthful Herbs. Growing up in the dust bowl of New Mexico, Gibbons first learned about living off the land from his mother and then spent years adding to his knowledge by doing research in libraries and interviewing locals as he traveled around the country.
Along the way, he put in time as, among other things, a cowboy, newspaper writer, hobo, carpenter and teacher. In addition to his books, his writing appeared in such publications as National Geographic and National Wildlife.
As you say, he was probably best known for his '70s Post Grape Nuts ads, spots that landed him on such shows as Sonny and Cher and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, but also made him a frequent target of comedians of the day. Despite his association with a healthy lifestyle, Gibbons died of a heart attack in 1975.