The Wall of Wheat Puffs
October, 1995. I was CEO of a new computer games company, Turbine, with nearly 30 employees. We've just moved to an office in Providence, Rhode Island.
They filled my office with wheat puffs -- to the top!
I was sleeping in, having worked late the previous night. Suddenly I got a phone call from Jeremy, the company's co-founder and a team leader. "Jon," he said, "that interviewee, Dan O., has arrived early and is already at the office! Wake up!"
It was my birthday, but I was too groggy to realize it. Hastily I got out of bed and ran downstairs, where Jeremy picked me up and we rushed into the office.
Hoping not to annoy the interviewee, we ran up the stairs, opened the door and... they had filled my office to the ceiling with breakfast cereal. It was a wall of Wheat Puffs!
I had rarely been so shocked in my life.
Why wheat puffs? Just before moving our team to a real office in Providence, I had us working at my Mom's house in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Of the twelve of half, half were effectively living there. Others were commuting. We'd stay up late working until 4am, and sleep until noon.
Stunned reaction upon seeing the office filled with wheat puffs.
Since there was no nearby source of food, often I'd go out and grab spaghetti or hamburgers or something for the whole team. One of the staple foods was breakfast cereal. Being mostly air, it was cheap, and we ate gross quantities of it. I'd even taken to stacking the cereal boxes in a huge pyramid.
Eventually, everybody got sick of presweetened cereal, but the last holdout, the cereal we could stand the most, was "Shaw's Frosted Wheat Puffs", and we still had a dozen boxes of it. I wanted to use it up, but nobody had the stomach for it, including me. I even went so far as to jokingly offer stock for anyone who'd finish it off.
So when the idea for this prank came up, perpretrators Jeremy Gaffney, Kevin Langevin, and Jeff Langevin needed a large amount of some inert substance. Shaw's Frosted Wheat Puffs came to mind.
I shared an office with a huge plate glass window. They had taped together pieces of cardboard into one huge piece of cardboard. That went behind the window, leaving a one-inch gap. It was this gap they filled with wheat puffs, making it appear as if the entire office had been filled. As the gap got filled up, it started to sag, causing a wider space which demanded even more puffs. It took 40 boxes meaning they had to run out at 2am to purchase more.
On the morning of my birthday, as a stood there gaping, it took a few seconds for me to figure out what they must have done. But even then, I was stammering, "But, but what about Dan O.? Is he here? Didn't he arrive early?" This kind of total surprise is what makes a prank worth it. Of course, this being a nice prank, after a couple of weeks, the whole company helped take it down.
Frosted Wheat Puffs then became a running gag at Turbine. Following this were the Microsoft Wheat Puffs (TM) and Chocolate Covered Popcorn pranks!
They actually filled a cardboard backing in my office.
I have pulled a lot of pranks that I am proud of, but this one played on me is probably the most creative. It was sticky taking this prank down, so if you do this, use unsweetened cereal or popcorn -- that's cheaper -- or stryofoam packing peanuts.