Category Archives: Beauty Pageant Politics

Kellogg’s forgives Miss Michigan over cereal confusion

Miss Michigan had bragged about being from the state of Kellogg's cereal, but inadvertently asked Miss America viewers if they had eaten their Wheaties, a General Mills product.

Miss Michigan had bragged about being from the state of Kellogg's cereal, but inadvertently asked Miss America viewers if they had eaten their Wheaties, a General Mills product

Tony the Tiger is a beast of compassion.

Culture Schlock has just learned, directly from the source (a nod to old-fashioned journalism), that Miss Michigan Nicole Blaszczyk is NOT in trouble for her snafu the other night confusing her state’s Kellogg’s cereal with Minnesota’s General Mills.

Here is an official statement from Kellogg Company spokeswoman Kris Charles on this biting issue:

“As a company founded in Michigan in 1906, we are proud of Miss Michigan. We are understanding of her momentary confusion during the Miss America pageant. We wish her continued success and hope she regularly enjoys Kellogg’s brands such as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Frosted Mini-Wheats.”

Charles also tells me that Miss Michigan will be receiving a gift basket filled with Kellogg’s products. With the pageant over, there now should be more opportunities to eat Pop-Tarts!

For the record, the General Mills Wheaties people did not respond to our earnest inquiry.

Taking a page from Kellogg’s, we forgive them.


Also check out:

BACKSTABBING BEAUTIES: “Miss America contestants now slam home states for cheap laughs”

GEOGRAPHY DISASTER: “Enough already, leave Miss Teen South Carolina alone!”

CROWN YOURSELF AS MISS AMERICA — A fun photo upload graphic courtesy of the TLC network.

MISS AMERICA CONTESTANTS SALUTE TACKY TOURIST PHOTOS — Miss Maryland calls the project “a great idea!”

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Filed under Beauty Pageant Politics, Fashion, Lost Causes

Crowns of Kitsch: How Miss America contestants brand their home states

Miss Atomic Bomb 1957, pictured here in her mushroom cloud evening gown, cared more about winning the Cold War than achieving world peace.

I know this sounds like the guys who say they read Playboy magazine for the interviews, but my love for the Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants has nothing to do with the swimsuit competition.

I’m attracted to the written and the spoken word.

And the kitschy Miss America introductions where contestants brag about their home states cannot be missed. For some bizarre reason, Culture Schlock is the only place where you can find a transcript of these 2010 introductions — although footage of the opening dance number (“I’ve Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas) is widely available.

In the past, I discovered that Miss America hopefuls were mocking their home states just to ingratiate themselves with the audience. This year’s batch of introductions, which MUST have been written by the contestants and not professional writers, contains far less rhetorical backstabbing.

Some Culture Schlock awards for the gals:

MISS CONFUSED — Miss Michigan proudly noted that Kellogg’s cereal is in Battle Creek, but oddly went on to trumpet Wheaties, a General Mills product and sister brand of Cheerios. She could have sung the praises of Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger or Snap, Crackle and Pop, but instead she tread on Minnesota territory.

MISS UNDERSELL — Miss Minnesota, meanwhile, instead of bragging about Cheerios or Wheaties, strangely pointed out the Vikings lost an important football game. C’mon, is that the best you can come up with to sell the Land of 10,000 Lakes?  No Mall of America shopping jokes or noting your state loves celebrity politicians (U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Gov. Jesse Ventura)?

MISS INCOHERENT — Maybe this is more of a reflection of Northeastern prejudice or my inability to understand Southern dialects, but after six or seven TiVo rewinds, I still have NO idea what kind of music Miss Mississippi likes.

MISS IRREVERENT — Miss Alaska better watch her back when she returns to Juneau and Fairbanks. Fellow beauty queen Sarah Palin might go rogue on her.

MISS UNEXPECTED — Who knew that Iowa was America’s secret cauldron of video game development and innovation?

And now for the full roster of state introductions in all their unedited glory….

DId Miss America contestants get to write their own introductions to their states?

1. ALABAMA — “Home of the 2009 college football champion, the Crimson Tide, I’m Liz Cochran, Miss Alabama!”

2. ALASKA — “Born and raised in America’s snowglobe — and no, I can’t see Russia from my house — I’m your Miss Alaska, Sydnee Waggoner!”

3. ARIZONA — “From the state that gives you everything grand, even a big hole in the ground. Representing the Grand Canyon State, I’m Savanna Troupe — Miss Arizona!”

4. ARKANSAS — From the state with the nation’s only active diamond mine, I am Sarah Slocum, Miss Arkansas!”

5. CALIFORNIA — From the home of the Governator — I’m here to PUMP you up. I am Kristy Cavinder, Miss California!”

6. COLORADO — “From the state with four seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and then Finally Summer, I’m Katie Layman, Miss Colorado!”

7. CONNECTICUT — “Representing the state that brought our nation the Constitution, I am Sharalynn Kuziak, Miss Connecticut!”

8. DELAWARE — “From the state where ladybugs always give us luck — I’m hoping Lady Luck shines on me! — I’m Heather Lehman, Miss Delaware!”

9. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — “From the nation’s capital, I’m here to tell you that our security here is much tighter than the White House State Dinner. I’m Jen Corey, Miss District of Columbia!”

10. FLORIDA — From the college football capital, home of Mr. Florida, Tim Too — Tim, I’m single (shows empty ring fingers). I’m Miss Florida, Rachael Todd!

11. GEORGIA — “From the home of the Masters Golf tournament, where I didn’t meet Tiger Woods, I’m Emily Cook, Miss Georgia!”

12. HAWAII — Proudly representing paradise with a 21-letter state fish — Humuhumunukunukuapua’a — I’m Raeceen Woolford, Miss Hawaii!

13. IDAHO — “You call them poe-tay-toes, you can call them poh-tatt=ohhhs. But call me Kara Jackson, Miss Idaho!”

14. ILLINOIS — “Let me hear you make some Illi-NOISE! From the land of Lincoln, I’m Erin O’Connor, Miss Illinois.””

15. INDIANA — “Ladies, hold on to your crowns… From the home of the world’s fastest race, the Indianapolis 500, I am Nicole Pollard — Miss Indiana!”

16. IOWA –– From the state that brought you the video games ‘Madden,’ ‘Rock Band,’ and ‘Guitar Hero,’ I’m Anne Michael Langguth – Miss Iowa!”

17. KANSAS — “Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz, there’s still no place like home. I’m Becki Ronen, Miss Kansas!”

18. KENTUCKY — “From the state who gave you Muhammed Ali, Johnny Depp and my boyfriend, George Clooney, I’m Mallory Ervin, Miss Kentucky!”

19. LOUISIANA — “From the state of letting the good times roll all the way to the Super Bowl, I’m Katharine Putnam, Miss Lousiana!”

20. MAINE — “From the state that sees the sunrise first each morning, I’m Susie Stauble, Miss Maine!”

21. MARYLAND — “From the home of the Chesapeake Bay, where you can get your oysters fried, stewed or nude, I’m Brooke Poklemba, Miss Maryland!”

22. MASSACHUSETTS — “From the state where you really can pahk your cah in Havahd Yahd, I’m Amanda Kelly, Miss Massachusetts!”

23. MICHIGAN — “From the home fo Kellogg’s cereal, have you had your Wheaties this morning? I’m Nicole Blaszczyk, Miss Michigan!”

24. MINNESOTA — “From the state where the Minnesota Vikings — oh wait, the Saints stole my intro — I’m Brooke Kelly Kilgarriff, Miss Minnesota!”

25. MISSISSIPPI— “From the home of (undecipherable) music and the birthplace of Elvis Presley, I’m Anna Tadlock, Miss Mississippi!”

Miss America contestants are no longer mocking their home states for a cheap laugh

26.MISSOURI— From the home of the world’s most famous birds and our nation’s best baseball fans, I am Tara Osseck, Miss Missouri!”

27. MONTANA — “From the Big Sky country, where the skies are as a big as our hearts, I’m Brittany Wiser, Miss Montana!”

28. NEBRASKA— “From the home of the Huskers, where even a third grader can spell “Ndamukong Suh,” I am Brittany Jeffers, Miss Nebraska!

29. NEVADA — “The only World Series you’ll find in my state requires a good poker face. I’m Christina Keegan, Miss Nevada!”

30. NEW HAMPSHIRE — “Fasten your seatbelts because you want to. From the only state that gives you the freedom to be smart, I’m Miss New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham!”

31. NEW JERSEY — “Where big hair and fist pumps really aren’t accepted, and no, I don’t know ‘The Situation.’ From the Real Jersey Shore, I’m Ashley Shaffer, Miss New Jersey!”

32. NEW MEXICO — “From the state where we put chili on just about everything, I’m Nicole Miner, Miss New Mexico!”

33. NEW YORK — “From the state where Lady Liberty is our Miss America, I am Alyse Zwick, Miss New York!”

34. NORTH CAROLINA — “From the Tar Heel state, I hope to leave a footprint on your heart tonight. I am Katherine Elizabeth Southard, Miss North Carolina!”

35. NORTH DAKOTA — “From the state where seeing three cars on the road is considered heavy traffic, I’m Katie Ralston, Miss North Dakota!”

36. OHIO — “From the (home of) the reigning Rose Bowl champions, I’m Erica Gelhaus, Miss Ohio!”

37. OKLAHOMA — “Where the winds come sweeping down the plains and the wave of wheat sure smells sweet, I’m Taylor Treat, Miss Oklahoma!”

38. OREGON — “You can volley your way into my state, I’m your Miss Oregon, C.C. Barber!”

39. PENNSYLVANIA — “Coming to you from the home of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the city of Brotherly Love and the sweetest place on earth, I’m Shannon Doyle, Miss Pennsylvania!”

40. PUERTO RICO — “Yes, we are back in Miss America, so you better start practicing those rolling R’s. I am Mimi Pabon, Miss Puerto Rico!”

41. RHODE ISLAND — “From the state that brought you the Farrelly Brothers and Family Guy, I hope to put a smile on your face. I’m Julianna Strout, Miss Rhode Island!”

42. SOUTH CAROLINA — “From the state where its still against the law to keep a horse in your bathtub, I’m Kelly Sloan, Miss South Carolina!”

43. SOUTH DAKOTA — “From the state where there’s more cows than people, I’m Morgan Peck, Miss South Dakota!”

44. TENNESSEE — “From Graceland to Dollywood and all that’s in between, I’m Stefanie Wittler, Miss Tennessee!”

45. TEXAS — “From the proud new home of the World’s Largest Indoor Sporting Arena, we love our Cowboys!  I am Miss Texas Kristen Blair!”

46. UTAH — “Coming from the only state that begins with U (double gun points to audience), I’m Whitney Merrifield, Miss Utah!”

47. VERMONT — “From the healthiest state in the nation, where we enjoy our Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and maple syrup, I’m Laura Hall, Miss Vermont!”

48. VIRGIN ISLANDS — From the U.S. territory where instead of making snow angels during the winter season, we can make sand angels, I am Shayla Solomon, Miss Virgin Islands!”

49. VIRGINIA — “They say you measure life in love. If that’s the case, the people in my home state are truly living!  I am Caressa Cameron, Miss Virginia!”

50. WASHINGTON — “From the home of Microsoft and Starbucks, we are educated and caffeinated!  I am Devanni Partridge, Miss Washington!”

51. WEST VIRGINIA — “John Denver coined us with song ‘Country Roads,’ but we just call it wild and wonderful, I am Talia Markham, Miss West Virginia!”

52. WISCONSIN — “Coming from the state where cheese isn’t just for eating, it’s also a fashion accessory, I am Kristina Smaby, Miss Wisconsin!”

53. WYOMING — “From the state with the lowest population and some of the highest elevations, I am Anna Nelson, your Miss Wyoming!”


Also check out:

BACKSTABBING BEAUTIES: “Miss America contestants now slam home states for cheap laughs”

GEOGRAPHY DISASTER: “Enough already, leave Miss Teen South Carolina alone!”

CROWN YOURSELF AS MISS AMERICA — A fun photo upload graphic courtesy of the TLC network.

MISS AMERICA CONTESTANTS SALUTE TACKY TOURIST PHOTOS — Miss Maryland calls the project “a great idea!”

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Filed under Beauty Pageant Politics, Fashion, Miss America Introductions

Enough already: Leave Miss South Carolina alone!

Should geography be a category in beauty pageants?

Should geography be a category in beauty pageants?

CULTURE SCHLOCK – By Darren Garnick
The Telegraph
September 6, 2007

By the time you read this, there probably will be another poor sap
who’ll say something stupid – well, beyond stupid – and who’ll face
the same merciless fate as Miss Teen South Carolina.

Lauren Caitlin Upton was still the YouTube laughingstock last week,
attracting more than nine million hits for her incoherent response to
a question about America’s geography education woes.

The 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant was asked to explain why an
estimated 20 percent of Americans can’t find the USA on a world map.
She attributed the problem to a shortage of maps – and stammered on
with a series of run-on sentences peppered with arbitrary references
to South Africa, the “Asian countries,” “U.S. Americans” and “the

It was one of those killer soundbites that transcripts can’t do justice.
The key was seeing her with her hands on her hips in a confident pose.
She might have known her answer was subpar, but she was going to sell
it anyway.

Ms. Upton did sound like the Airhead of the Century, and the fact that
she finished as third runner-up did Donald Trump’s Miss Teen USA
pageant no favors. Ugly people, who make up an estimated 90-95
percent of the population, already viewed pageant contestants as
bleached-out bimbos. To them, South Carolina’s entrant “proved” their
preconceptions were facts, not prejudice.

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel skewered the 18-year-old in
his monologue, urging his teenage viewers to study hard in school so
they don’t wind up like her. Comedian Mo Rocca, the bespectacled
trendy nerd from those VH1 “I Love the 80s” specials, held an Internet
contest for people to rescramble her words into sentences that made
sense. He attracted 750 entries, including several haikus.

On the Today show, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry were gentle to her, giving
her an opportunity to do some damage control in a friendly setting.

Curry brought patronizing journalism to new heights, reminding Upton
she was “only 18,” as if she had also screwed up a pageant math
problem. The Today host then gave her guest a high five for having the
courage to go on national television.

“You know what I say?” Curry chirped. “Good girl! Good girl, you!”

Seriously, that’s what Ann Curry said. And there are no YouTube
discussion boards or journalism chat rooms mocking her pathetic
attempts to infuse girl power into her interview.

As a side note, I personally cannot look at Curry’s overly-pruned
eyebrows. Just how fearful are women that they’ll be confused with
Mike Dukakis that they thin out their brows to cartoonish proportions?

But back to Upton, whose brows look fantastic. She should not be
demonized for not having the public speaking skills of Tony Blair.
Miss Teen USA is a beauty pageant, not a civic affairs seminar.

Surely, there are bright and beautiful pageant contestants. We have
no idea how Miss Teen Congeniality (Mississippi) or Miss Teen
Photogenic (Maryland) answered their final exams, because intelligent
responses without stammering are boring.

The hard truth is that many Americans are not so eloquent, probably a
much higher percentage than the 20 percent with no access to maps.
But nowhere near as high as the 95 percent of women who hate their

It’s easy to poke fun at Miss South Carolina. By comparison, she
makes most of us seem like Einstein – until we meet someone who makes
us seem like Miss South Carolina.

Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column runs every Thursday in
Encore. Feedback is welcomed at cultureschlock (at)


BONUS SIDEBAR: “The Beauty of Media Training”

How Miss Teen South Carolina answered her pageant question the first
time around compared to her second chance on NBC’s Today show:

Q: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?

To the Miss Teen USA judges: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans
are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation
don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such
as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as,
and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the
U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should
help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our
future for our.”

On the Today show: “Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly
where the United States is on a map. I don’t know anyone else who
doesn’t. If the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more
emphasis on geography in our education so people will learn how to
read maps better.”

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Miss America contestants now slam home states for cheap laughs

CULTURE SCHLOCK — By Darren Garnick
“Miss NH struts home from pageant with dignity intact”

The Telegraph — February 7, 2007
Here’s my journalism conference fantasy (please substitute your own professional development conference here so you can play along):

I’m sitting in a hotel ballroom with folding chairs and we’re going around the room giving personal introductions to our colleagues.

I put my hands on my hips and in a sassy, sing-songy tone, I say: “From the home state of Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, Carlton Fisk and Story Land, I’m Darren Garnick, the pop culture guy for The Telegraph!”

The auditorium goes nuts with applause.

OK, I wake up to my TiVo, which has serendipitously recorded the 2008 Miss America pageant. I’m curious to see how Miss New Hampshire, Rachel Barker, will fare, especially since she’s from the Greater Nashua area. How can I not root for her?

Soon, instead of thinking about the “Live Free or Die” State’s chances, I’m wondering how badly this pageant has been impacted by the writer’s strike.

Miss Maine is strutting in her tight jeans up to the spotlight. She’s giggling and having a blast. “Coming from the home state of McDreamy,” she chirps, “I am Tara Allain, Miss Maine!”

Wow. No traditional references to lobster or the rocky seacoast. Her celebration of actor Patrick Dempsey is almost Dennis Miller-esque. Is Dempsey’s “McDreamy” nickname from “Grey’s Anatomy” really that universally known?

But these Miss America contestant introductions get even more baffling. Many take a page straight out of the Mitt Romney playbook and belittle the beauty queen’s home state for a cheap laugh from the audience. For those of you with TiVos not tuned into your secret viewing pleasures, I have done you the favor of transcribing a few classic lines.

“From the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, I am Makenna Smith, Miss Oklahoma!”

Is that all you got, Makenna? Don’t you feel like the Miss America scriptwriter wanted to just get the Oklahoma intro over with?

“Home of the country’s highest birthrate — as long as the Osmonds don’t move — I’m Jill Stevens, Miss Utah!”

Yikes. Aside from mocking Mormon reproduction rates, what are Osmond references doing in a so-called young and hip pageant makeover? Does anyone under 30 even know about Donnie and Marie?

“From the state where you can have a Southern accent and a college degree… Hey y’all, I’m Leah Massie, Miss Georgia!”

“From the state that moved up its primary, but nobody cared, I’m proud to be Miss Wyoming, Jenn McCafferty!”

By far, I feel most sorry for Massie and McCafferty. Both of them delivered their lines with their heads held high, but managed to inadvertently reinforce massive inferiority complexes. Did a Miss America pageant contestant really chipperly say that Southern people are stupid? Did Miss Wyoming really call her home turf the most insignificant, worthless place on earth?

“Home to the First-in-the-Nation Primary, where the hot air blows as fast as the wind atop Mt. Washington, I’m Rachel Barker, Miss New Hampshire!”

Well, at least New Hampshire viewers didn’t reach for their remote controls.

Beyond the opening ceremony, there were plenty of other bizarre Miss America moments.

Semi-finalist Massee, the Georgian who taught us you can still get accepted into college if you have a Southern accent, kicked things up a notch. In a pre-recorded interview, she declared it is possible to be an ‘It Girl” even if you are wearing flip-flops or gym shoes. And that no matter what you wear on your feet, you can still “live a respectful, honest, responsible lifestyle.”

Asked to name a role model, Miss Texas Molly Hazlett called talk show host Kelly Ripa a “great mother” and a “phenomenal woman.” She didn’t indicate if her parenting assessment was based on first-hand observation or from reading Entertainment Weekly.

But those moments paled in comparison to the degrading comments several women were forced to make about their own states. Network executives may never learn that there are millions of people, millions of happy people, who live outside New York and California.

Personally, I’m thrilled for our hometown contestant, Rachel Barker. Miss New Hampshire may not have cracked the top 16 candidates for the shimmery tiara. But she came home to Amherst with her dignity intact.

Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column runs Thursdays in Encore. For an extra helping of “Schlock,” including original films and assorted subversive writings, visit

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