Eric Stonestreet, Happy Mistake

(Frank Chaffin) Today Around Kansas introduces us to yet another talented Kansan – actor Eric Stonestreet from Kansas City. Next learn how the “Happy Mistake” of a mother seeking a better diet for her daughter led to a new gluten-free bakery in Wathena. Then take a look at the history of flooding in Kansas, starting with June 1844, and we’ll end with a Kansan who developed the bumper sticker.

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(Frank Chaffin) And in a few hours the sun will be up on a brand new Wednesday. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this Around Kansas. Good morning. (Deb) Good morning. You know where I live out in the western part of the state; it takes another hour or two for the sun – (Frank) [Laughs]. (Deb) – for the sun to get there. It takes a while for it to roll on out I-70 and all – [Frank) Well, it has the climb the hill. (Deb) Well, it a pretty steady – (Frank) From 800 feet to 3700 feet. (Deb) It’s a pretty steady incline going out there. We’re getting ready out there for our big event at Fort Wallace just a month from now. Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s just a month. We have so much to do, but we’re having the Great Fort Wallace and Western Kansas Exposition. We’re having a special event on July third in Goodland, just outside of Goodland at the museum and then at the Kidder Massacre Site. Dr. Jake is recreating the Kidder ride from 1867. I’ll accept the massacre at the end; they’re not going to die again. Then we’re going to have a program out at the massacre site. We’ll have historians out there, Doug Whitson and other folks talking about what happened out there. Our friend Cally Krallman and Diane Gillenwater did a beautiful song about that. Then on the sixth, we have a bus tour from Oakley to Scott City, which is going to be phenomenal. We’re going to visit some incredible sites along the way. There’s a fee for that. But then on the seventh, we have a symposium. Nerd day, I call it at the Expo. That will be at the Fort Wallace Museum. Then on Saturday morning, July eight, we will have the unveiling of the statue of Scout William Comstock by our friend Jerry Thomas out in front of the museum. We will have the grand opening of the new addition to the museum which was designed by Valerie Smith and what an incredible, talented, you can’t believe how cool this is. We will an encampment all day long and a Michael Martin Murphy concert that night. Then on Sunday, we will end with a horse-drawn procession out to the Fort Wallace cemetery and services there. It’s going to be huge, so visit the website for Fort Wallace Museum. Find me on Facebook. Find our Facebook page. You better get some room reservations, maybe in Denver by now because, man, we are filling them up fast out there. (Frank) Either that or a camper or a tent. (Deb) A camper or a tent. That’s right. That space is at a premium so — but hook up space may be at a premium but space, by golly, we got space out there so we will find a place to put you. If you to come we will find a place. That’s right. (Frank) [Laughs] Somewhere on the high plains. (Deb) You may be on a field somewhere but we got space. That’s the one thing we got a lot of. It’s going to be an awesome time. (Frank) Another thing to look forward to here in the great state of Kansas. (Deb) Another thing to look forward to. That’s right. There’s so much going on. People that complain, my granny used to say, “The only people that are bored are boring people.” I’m like the more I look around that’s true Frank. People that can’t find something to do are generally boring people. If you don’t want to waste time with them, move to the next table. You don’t want to be talking to those people. If they can’t find something fun to do or interesting or entertaining or educational you ain’t got time for them. You don’t need those people in your life. (Frank) We’ll be back.

(Frank) Back again. (Deb) Frank, I forgot in our open to remind people about the WREN app if you have your Android phone. You guys have that brand new app and that’s pretty cool and that’s going well. (Frank) Yes. Yes, it is. If you have an Android device you can get WREN, our own application is there. Just go to your play store and search WREN. It will come up. It’s a free download and then there it is. You can call up the oldies just anytime you would like, and if you’d like, I’ll call them up right now [Laughs]. Anyway, that’s what it looks like. Those are the oldies playing: ’50s, ’60s, ’70s oldies and – (Deb) Love that music. I love that. (Frank) – you can take this with you wherever you go. There it is. (Deb) That’s so cool. You take request too? (Frank) Yes. (Deb) How cool is that? I’m going to make my list right now. Well, we’ve got a feature. We’re always sharing talented Kansans with you and there is no end. And one we’ve shared a lot from bygone days, but one who is hot right now is Eric Stonestreet on Modern Family, which I think is hilarious. That’s one of the shows I actually watch on TV. If you’re not familiar with his story, you’re going to be blown away. [Laughter] While K-State is known for engineers and veterinarians, sometimes the university turns out some pretty good actors. Case in point: Eric Stonestreet, best known for his role in the ABC comedy, Modern Family. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, he attended high school in Piper and attended K-State to study sociology and perhaps pursue a career in criminal justice. But as a mere child, he had worked as a performer. At age 11, Eric devised a clown character named Fizbo, which was featured in an episode of Modern Family, the episode he eventually won an Emmy for. Eric graduated from Kansas State University in 1996. He performed in local plays, and also dabbled in the Chicago Improv scene, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue further opportunities as an actor. Eric has since appeared in numerous television and film projects. He made his screen debut in a 1999 episode of Dharma and Greg, and made his film debut in Almost Famous the following year. From 2001 he held a recurring role on the crime series CSI, appearing as a lab technician. He also appeared in shows such as ER, Crossing Jordan, Pushing Daisies and The Mentalist. He joined the cast of Modern Family in 2009. His portrayal of the carefree, if not flamboyant, Cameron Tucker earned him strong critical acclaim; it also led to an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series the following year. In the series, the character Cam hails from Tonganoxie, Missouri. Eric often tosses in references to familiar places and he told a Kansas City Star reporter that he placed his hometown in Missouri rather than Kansas because he knew the other scripts would evolve into making fun of his hometown. He preferred making fun of Missouri, rather than Kansas. For example, one of his quotes from the show is “I’m just a kook for racquetball. Club champ, two years in a row, Tonganoxie, Missouri, rec center.” We’re betting the folks in Missouri don’t mind the jokes.

(Frank) Here we are again. (Deb) Let them eat cake, Frank. I couldn’t stand it. I knew you were going to say it, and I had to beat you to the punch. (Frank) [Laughs] I was going to say Let them eat cake – as long as it’s gluten-free. (Deb) Oh yes, cool. (Frank) Well, no. I never really understood that but then I have a couple of friends that need to eat gluten-free. Part of it is because our food is so good anymore like the wheat that’s grown. The person that explained it to me is used to be wheat was pretty tall. Should you go out western Kansas now, it’s much shorter but the wheat heads down there are much bigger and so they have more everything – (Deb) Much more compact, yes. (Frank) – in it. If you have some affinity to gluten, it can be a big problem. Anyway, there are beginning to be gluten-free bakeries around the state. (Deb) Wow. (Frank) Yes, Marie-Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” (Deb) Then they cut her head off. But this story doesn’t end like that, does it Frank? (Frank) Historically, she didn’t really say that but you know. (Deb) But who are we to interfere with a good story. (Frank) [Laughs] But anyway, there is a bakery in Kansas called the Marie Antoinette Bakery. (Deb) That’s brilliant. It is a brilliant name. (Frank) It really is. (Deb) It is a brilliant name. (Frank) Of course, yours truly gets to do the story about it. People really came in from all over the place but now they do, you can go online and you can actually order it from them. (Deb) Which might be safer than getting your head cut off. (Frank) [Laughs] Anyway, let’s take a look. This is Kansas Profile by Ron Wilson, Director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. “Happy mistakes.” That sounds like an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. But “happy mistakes” is one way of describing the experience of a woman who was seeking a better diet for her daughter and ended up developing a new business. Rani Force is the owner and head baker at Marie Antoinette’s Gluten-Free Bake Shoppe. Rani grew up in a farming area of Michigan where she cooked and baked in the kitchen with her mother. Rani got married and became a mother herself and later moved to St. Joseph, Missouri. In 2010, her 11-year-old daughter started exhibiting major symptoms of illness. The daughter experienced dizziness, vomiting, daily migraines, lethargy, and imbalance. Her doctors were baffled. The family went to specialist after specialist. One day while sitting in yet another doctor’s waiting room, Rani happened to glance at a medical journal article about eating gluten-free. The symptoms of gluten intolerance sounded a lot like her daughter’s. Rani described this to the doctor who agreed to let them try a gluten-free diet until her next appointment. “In a matter of days, my daughter’s condition improved,” Rani said. That was a breakthrough, but it was still a challenge to find foods which would work in her daughter’s diet. Furthermore, it turned out her daughter also had allergies to yeast and corn. Rani began actively seeking foods that her daughter could consume. When their older daughter graduated from Wellesley, Rani and her family went back east and visited gluten-free bakeries along the way but with disappointing results. “As I sat and tried to choke down a tasteless, dry, and crumbly gluten-free cupcake in Boston, I knew we could offer a more tasty, moist, and sweet cupcake.” Rani said. Through trial and error, Rani began developing gluten-free recipes of her own. Her daughter’s eyes would light up at the sight of cupcakes and cookies, which she could consume. “We figured if our family had this problem, we couldn’t be alone,” Rani said. Rani decided to open a bakery to serve this need. Using a logo of a pretty, young Marie Antoinette, the drawing of which resembled their daughter, Rani and her husband opened Marie Antoinette’s Gluten-Free Bake Shoppe. They located the shop in the nearby rural community of Wathena, Kansas, population 287 people. “I love Wathena,” Rani said. “It reminds me of the farm country where I grew up in Michigan.” Rani’s husband developed the graphics and filmed commercials for the store. The Bake Shoppe menu has broadened beyond gluten-free products as people learned that there could be alternative recipes for other popular foods as well. “We now specialize in allergy-free cooking,” Rani said. The menu includes breakfast and lunch items as well as cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and holiday treats. Marie Antoinette’s also caters parties and special events. The company is having K-State food scientists analyze its foods for nutritional value as the company prepares its products for shipment and delivery. Already, visitors have sought out Marie Antoinette’s from across the country. For example, the Bake Shoppe has had customers from Ohio, Virginia, Texas and California. Rani continues to develop new allergen-free products. One was what her husband called a “happy mistake.” “I was trying to make a gluten-free donut recipe, but it looked like cinnamon roll dough instead of donuts,” Rani said. “I tried it that way and I’ve had people say these are the best cinnamon rolls they’ve ever had,” she said. Not only has this venture helped Rani’s family diet and created a business, it has been personally rewarding. “It is really nice when people say things like, `This is the first time I’ve been able to have a birthday cake for my daughter,’” Rani said. For more information, go to and on Facebook.

(Frank) Here we are again. Like it or not we’re here. (Deb) Hush, Frank. They could flip the channel if they want to. (Frank) Yes, I guess that’s true. (Deb) The weather, of course, is always a story in Kansas, no matter what it is. A few weeks ago, of course, 1st of May, April 30th and May 1st, of course, we had the big blizzard out where I live. Oh, you can’t make this stuff up Frank. We were actually in Larned. We were there April 29th for Mess and Muster and it rained cats and dogs. None of the outdoor events could take place. We had a wonderful time with Leo Oliver and George Elmore and all the folks out there. But the water, it was unreal. That night we have a banquet and everything and we come back and it’s 9:30, and we’ve got a two and a half drive back home. You couldn’t see five feet, and we’re like, “Okay we’re staying.” Well, the next day, we got as far as Utica because I-70 was closed. We’re trying to take highway four home. We get to Utica — actually, it was closed at Ransom but when you did sneak all the way to Utica on the highway where Jake’s got family, stopped at his brother’s restaurant, the Wertz Street Social Emporium, folks, and there was a foot of snow on the highway. That’s where the snow blade had turned around so we stayed there that night. We get home the next evening Monday, and our road hadn’t been plowed. We couldn’t get to our house, Frank. The snow was this deep on our road with drifts on either side maybe four feet deep. We had to wait that afternoon for it to get plowed. We drove around for an hour trying to find a road that had been plowed to get to our house; none of them had been plowed. The power was out. We had folks that were without power for more than a week. Fortunately, ours was back on by Tuesday after it went off Saturday night or Sunday morning. Oh, my gosh, 20 inches of snow in some places, 25 in some places. Insane. Insane. We’re going to hear about some more insane weather. (Frank) Does that make you want to come to Kansas? (Deb) Oh no.(Michael Goehring) At least one Kansas stream has severe flooding each year, according to the US Geological Survey. Most of the time, flooding is confined to an area of less than 2,500 square miles, but several severe floods have affected much larger areas of the State. The first of those we know about occurred in June 1844. The flooding resulted from when a large storm affected the north-central and northeast parts of the State. Many of our viewers remember the flood of July 10-13, 1951, which extended over about one-half of the State, and along the Missouri and Osage Rivers in western Missouri. The flood was caused by storms that originated at the convergence of warm, moist, tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico and a frontal system that was centered in east-central Kansas. The resulting precipitation, which ranged from 6 to 17.5 inches, fell during three periods about 24 hours apart. Rainfall totals for May and June already had been much greater than normal. Because the soil was saturated, the heavy rains had nowhere to go. Severe flooding occurred along the Arkansas River upstream from Great Bend during June 17-25, 1965, as a result of storms in the foothills and the plains east of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico. Because the main storm did not affect Kansas, local flooding was minimal, but the Arkansas River overflowed from the western state line downstream to Great Bend. On the afternoon of June 14, 1981, a series of intense thunderstorms along the forward edge of a stalled cold front produced from 5 to 20 inches of precipitation in about 12 hours near Great Bend. The storm affected about 300 square miles of tributaries to the Arkansas River upstream. A similar storm occurred in the Kansas City metro area in September 1977 when as much as 11 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. During the Halloween Floods of 1998, the worst of the flooding occurred in south-central Kansas. Flooding on the Walnut River at Winfield was the second highest in more than 100 years of record. Several smaller basins had peaks of record during the flood. While flood-control reservoirs in Kansas have reduced the level of flooding in recent years, there’s no holding back Mother Nature, and every now and then, she reminds us!

(Frank) Hello again. This is Around Kansas. I’m Frank, she’s Deb, and he’s the film guy over there. (Deb) Wave Michael. [Laughter] (Deb) Wave at him. Frank chastised me for all the bad things I said about the weather. I didn’t even mention the tornado. Frank. I just talked about the floods and the blizzards. I didn’t even get to the tornadoes. Listen, folks. Kansas – (Frank) You’re making Kansas look so wonderful [Laughs]. (Deb) That’s why we need to print some bumper stickers that say – (Frank) No, it’s an adventure. (Deb) Adventures aren’t comfortable. We had this conversation the other day. Life is an adventure and adventures are not comfortable. If you want comfort, yes, just sit near easy boy in front of the TV but if you want an adventure, you’re going to have to be willing to suffer a little bit. Life out here is an adventure, isn’t it Frank? (Frank) Yes, it is. (Deb) It is. It is worth a little suffering. We should make that bumper sticker. Life in Kansas is an adventure. (Frank) Bumper stickers. Hey. (Deb) Bumper stickers. (Frank) It’s your story. You talk about it. (Deb) I was just going to say what would campaigns be was yes, Frank. Back in the day what did you do for campaigns before you had bumper stickers? (Frank) [Laughs] No. That was before my time. (Deb) One of my favorite bumper sticker jokes is when they dug up the Hunley, the confederate submarine. It had just stopped at the coast of Charleston. (Frank) It didn’t have a bumper sticker on it. (Deb) It had a bumper sticker on the back that said, “Vote for Strom Thurmond.” [Laughter] (Deb) He was in office for what, 100 years or something. Yes, if you’re from the Southeast or old enough to remember Strom Thurmond. Now, bumper stickers. This is such a cool story. All right. Take a look. (Frank) Made in Kansas. (Deb) Made in Kansas. Before bumper stickers, how did we know whose kid was an honor student or that you were saving the whales? Once again, a Kansan answers the call by transforming the lowly bumper into a platform for freedom of speech. Forest P. Gill, a silkscreen printer from Kansas City, Kansas, USA, is the acknowledged inventor, or perhaps the developer, of the bumper sticker. Gill recognized that the self-adhesive paper used during the Second World War could be used to advertise promotional products in the late 1940s and beyond. Gill was relying on developments in material manufacturing during World War II, which led to the widespread use of daylight fluorescent inks. These inks appeared to glow during the daytime and were useful to support various wartime activities; they were favored by early bumper sticker manufacturers after the war. In addition, the first commercially produced pressure-sensitive stickers appeared after World War II; new developments in adhesive materials led to the production of paper strips with adhesive on the back.[7] In addition, the rise of consumer use of vinyl after World War II led to the eventual use of this material in bumper stickers. But before bumper stickers? Advertisers used other methods of displaying their wares. In the horse-drawn carriage era, advertisers printed on horsefly nets with the name of a business. In the 1930s and 1940s, bumper signs were printed on metal or cardboard and wired to the chrome bumpers. Lester Dill, promoter of Meramec Caverns in Missouri, was an ardent adopter of the bumper sign to attract motorists to his site. Using a window shield decal was another option. These paper strips could be wetted and placed inside a car window.[However, these strips did not hold up well when placed on a bumper. Early widespread uses of the advertising bumper sticker were for tourist attractions, such as Marine Gardens, Florida; Seven Falls, Colorado; Meramec Caverns in Missouri and Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Another popular advertisement was the “See Rock City” sticker. In the 1940s and 1950s, visitors to the site had a sticker applied to their car, which duplicated the famous signs painted on the roofs of barns throughout the southeastern USA. The tourist attraction staff would circulate through the parking lot, applying the promotional sticker to every car. The first documented presidential election that used adhesive bumper stickers in political campaigns was the 1952 election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II.

(Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) We’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas. (Deb) Oh, I forgot. [Laughter]

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