Prewar Snack

As war drew near, consumption of junk food at the Snaxpo convention soared

"That's the Rolls-Royce of snacks," urged one vendor, motioning colleagues toward a bag of Terra chips, described as "a delicious potpourri of exotic vegetables." "They retail at $5."

In the rush to grab the last bag of Smores Poppers, small, cookielike concoctions designed to taste like the traditional summertime treat, conferencegoers barely noticed as the winner of the Snaxpo annual grand prize -- 35,000 pounds of potatoes, delivered to the winner's door in a tractor trailer -- was announced.

"We're all potato chip manufacturers, so it's a big deal!" explained last year's winner, Julie Strauss of the Golden Flake snack company.

At the close of Snaxpo, only a lonely pile of cracklings remained on a lunch table, untouched. Message to Saddam: When the enemy comes, brandish pork rinds. -- Lessley Anderson

Phil Shouts the News

The morning after America's first volley on Iraq, the newsstand headlines offered a kind of national mood ring. The papers were calm, even cautious. The New York Times took a puff on its pipe, adjusted its monocle, and stated somewhat awkwardly, "U.S. BEGINS ATTACK WITH STRIKE AT BAGHDAD AFTER DEADLINE FOR HUSSEIN TO GO RUNS OUT." The Wall Street Journal murmured, "U.S. Launches War on Iraq With Limited Air Attack; President Predicts a 'Broad and Concerted Campaign'" (while its giddy editorial writers seemed ready to deploy themselves). Even the hometown Examiner played it cool. "Bombs fall in Iraq," it read below the fold, a whimper from the folks who brought us "BASTARDS!" after 9/11.

But our Chronicle? "WAR," it shrieked in plump, 306-point type, occupying the upper quarter of the page, so big there wasn't even room for an exclamation point. We imagined editor Phil Bronstein, sword aloft, pith helmet at a rakish angle, exhorting from a wind-swept desert berm. It was an accurate headline, of course, but in San Francisco it was also an incitement (confirmed on Thursday when a fat guy in a tight T-shirt goaded anti-war protesters by holding up the front page and yelling, "Yes!").

Last week, we looked over some of the Chronicle's front pages since its inception, to see how Thursday's compared. The headline looked to be the paper's biggest in nearly 60 years. Bigger than "NIXON RESIGNS" (Aug. 9, 1974), "MEN ON MOON" (July 21, 1969), or "MURDER OF THE PRESIDENT" (Nov. 23, 1963). Bigger than "HUNDREDS DEAD IN HUGE QUAKE" (Oct. 18, 1989); or, for that matter, "EARTHQUAKE AND FIRE: SAN FRANCISCO IN RUINS" (April 19, 1906). And bigger -- twice over -- than "NIGHTMARE" (Sept. 12, 2001).

But the Chronicle's loudest cry of the last century was unmistakable. It filled half a page, white type in a black box, on Aug. 15, 1945: "PEACE!" -- Tommy Craggs

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