IF YOU LISTENED TO STRAIGHT ARROW AS A KID, you will recall the program's thrilling opening words and music. You may even admit to chills running down your spine as you listened. Each episode began with this distinctive sequence: Milton Charles would imitate a tom-tom on his organ, and announcer Frank Bingman would chant:
N – A – B – I – S – C - O,
Nabisco is the name to know.
For a breakfast, you can't beat
Eat Nabisco Shredded Wheat!
This advertisement, or jingle, was repeated with a
rhythmic intonation, simulating the sound of an Indian drum.
An organ playing in the background reinforced this rhythm.
Keen eyes fixed on a flying target . . .
A gleaming arrow set against a rawhide string . . .
A strong bow bent almost to the breaking point . . .
and then . . .
The unique sound of an arrow flying toward its target was made by organist Charles. At this point organ music created a distinctive and highly effective set of sounds that simulated the release of the bow string, an arrow in flight, and finally the thud of the arrow hitting its targetl
. . . STRAAAAAIIIIIIGHT ARROW!
Nabisco Shredded Wheat presents Straight Arrow, a thrilling new adventure story from the exciting days of the Old West!
To friends and neighbors alike, Steve Adams appeared to be nothing more than the young owner of the Broken Bow cattle spread. But when danger threatened innocent people, and when evildoers plotted against justice, then Steve Adams, rancher, disappeared.
And in his place came a mysterious, stalwart Indian, wearing the dress and war paint of a Comanche, riding the great golden palomino Fury.
Galloping out of the darkness to take up the cause of law and order throughout the West comes the legendary figure of . . .
. . . STRAAAAAIIIIIIGHT ARROW!
Click on the arrow (above) to hear the thrilling introduction
and the March 24, 1949 broadcast of Straight Arrow.
THE POPULAR JUVENILE WESTERN WAS CREATED IN 1947 when the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) made plans to challenge the domination of children's allegiance to Post, Kellogg's, and General Mills cereals. Nabisco officials picked one of their adult cereals, Shredded Wheat, to promote as a kids' breakfast food through its sponsoship of a new radio series.
McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency in New York City was given the task of creating this new kids' show, and Author Sheldon Stark developed the story line and turned over the initial script in January, 1948.
The premise was that a mild-mannered rancher, Steve Adams played by Howard Culver, was of Comanche descent and had been adopted by a white family early in his life. He learned as a teenager that there was a Comanche legend of a great warrior who would return, "riding like the wind and relentless in his aim, to right wrongs and to do good." Adams became that warrior and made the transition in a secret cave where he kept his Indian garb, war paint, strong bow, and beautiful, swift palomino Fury. Only his trusty, white sidekick Packy McCloud, played by Fred Howard, knew the true identity of Straight Arrow.
Stark packed the dialogue with Indian phrases and ideas, and he included many tried-and true elements.
Straight Arrow, like Superman before him, began his series as an adult, with the explanation of his childhood to air at a later date. However, unlike Superman, the origin story of the Comanche warrior was never broadcasted.
Just as Roy Rogers did, Straight Arrow proudly rode a golden Palomino, but his horse would be unnamed for several months so the sponsor could hold a contest to name him - all entries to be accompanied by a Nabisco Shredded Wheat box top, of course.
Howard Culver, much like Clayton "Bud" Collyer had been doing for years as Clark Kent/Superman, used his regular voice for Steve Adams and then lowered it for Straight Arrow.
While the Lone Ranger had a secret silver mine, Straight Arrow had a secret gold cave. Here he kept all the necessary items for his transformation.
The show proved very popular with adults as well as children and was broadcast nationally as a 30-minute program three times a week until February 1950. Then it went to twice a week until the show ended in June, 1951. All 292 scripts were written by Sheldon Stark.
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1. Injun-Uity Cards
These were printed cards that were included in boxes of Nabisco Shredded Wheat from 1949 to 1952.
The twelve biscuits were packed in four layers with three biscuits in each layer. These were separated by three cardboard dividers. Starting in 1949, "Straight Arrow's Secrets of Indian Lore and Know-How" were printed on the dividers in an effort to increase the popularity of Shredded Wheat among children.
The cards were called Injun-uity Cards, a play on words combining the slang "injun" with "ingenuity" and meaning to teach the ability to do things in clever ways. One topic was examined and illustrated on each card, either showing how to make Indian-style artifacts or how to correctly do various outdoor activities.
These cards and the books, or manuals, they later generated are collector items today.
2. War Drum & beater, (1949), Box-Top + 25¢
3. Golden Arrow Tie Clasp, (1949/1950), Box-Top + 15¢
4. 3 1/2" Diameter Tribal Patch, (1950), Box-Top + 10¢
5. Golden Nugget Cave Ring, (1951), Box-Top + 25¢
6. Rite-A-Lite Arrowhead, (1951), Box-Top + 2
7. Injun-Uity Cards, (Reprint Of Books 1 & 2), (1951), Box-Top + 15¢
8. Two-Red Feather Headband (1948/1949), Box-Top Only
9. Golden Face Ring (1950), Box-Top + 10¢
10. (1950) Mystic Wrist Kit [includes arrowhead & cowry shell], Box-Top + 20¢
11. Bandana & Golden Slide Ring (1949), Box-Top + 20¢
12. Gold Nugget Picture Ring, 1950, A picture, Box-Top + 25¢
Your photo would be superimposed to look like you were the secret golden cave with Straight Arrow and his palomino horse, Fury.
13. Injun-Uity Manuals
These were booklets contained reprints of the insert cards from the Shredded Wheat boxes. Each maual included 36 cards; the four manuels contained of 144 cards explaining Indian lore and know-how.
Injun-uity Manuals 1 and 2, 1951
Injun-uity Manual 3, 1951
injun-uity Manual 4, 1952
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