S-W-A-G and the R-N-C

In which the "Limited Convention Edition" box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese enters our lives

ST. PAUL — Below, the contents of the “media welcoming” bag (black, tote-style, printed in white and red with various sponsor logos) we received upon checking in for our RNC press credentials. Listed without further comment, except to say that, in the spirit of the thing, we’ve noted the gifts’ sponsorship:


- metal-and-lacquer lapel pin featuring a blue elephant paddling a canoe, the oar it is using featuring the AT&T logo (AT&T)

- brushed-metal windmill-shaped lapel pin, with an accompanying information card: “Wind: Powering a Cleaner, Stronger America” (American Wind Energy Association)

- white credential lanyard printed with blue-and-red, art-deco-style elephants (Qwest)


- clear-plastic Nalgene-style water bottle, printed with a blue-and-red “RNC 2008” logo (RNC, VISA, US Bank)

- granola bar, peanut butter flavor (Nature Valley)

- granola bar, oats ’n honey flavor (Nature Valley)

- sample-sized package of Truvia, “nature’s calorie-free sweetener” (Truvia)

- breath mints, packaged in a slim, brown-plastic container shaped like a UPS truck (UPS)

- one box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, the “Republicans in 2008!” edition, an illustration of a suit-wearing elephant holding a GOP sign on its front, a brief history of the Republican party—as well as a “presidential IQ test”—on its back, the box’s contents including elephant- and star-shaped noodles (Kraft)


- green-plastic-cased computer jump drive, with built-in compass (Escape Hybrid)

- a flier containing the “top 10 tips” for “safer and smarter” family internet surfing (Qwest)

- pre-addressed plastic sleeve for mailing in and recycling used cell phones (Qwest)

- gift card for a free ringtone download (AT&T)


- August 2008 issue of World Traveler, Northwest’s in-flight magazine (NWA)

- the mag-sized, 88-page-long Official Guide to the 2008 Republican National Convention, which includes speaker biographies, food/entertainment information about the Twin Cities, and “fun facts” about Minnesota. The latter includes a list of “products and inventions that hail from Minnesota,” among them Cheerios, Wheaties, Scotch Tape, Pacemakers, Green Giant vegetables, Spam, Bisquick, Skyways, masking tape, Dairy Queen, and indoor shopping malls. (Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008)

- Mall of America coupon book, featuring 211 coupons to MOA vendors and attractions (Mall of America)

- postcard-sized detail of UPS locations in and around the convention site (UPS)

- black-and-white flier advertising Votimus, “a new political website!” (Votimus)

- “AT&T trivia challenge” card, printed with 10 questions about AT&T-related “fun facts,” such as: AT&T is ranked by Business Week magazine as among the 50 “most innovative companies” in the world! (AT&T)

- “More to Minnesota” GOParty Guide, containing dining and entertainment information for the greater MSP area, as well as a GOParty card, “your ticket to discounts and deals at more than 400 businesses represented in this guide” (Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008)


- “inversion-resistant,” travel-sized umbrella (Windjammer)

- white-plastic, customizable luggage tag, printed with the RNC 2008 logo (NWA, Delta)


- white Post-It Note pad, printed with a grayscale version of the “RNC 2008” logo (Post-It)

- packet containing seeds for sweet alyssum flowers: “A hardy annual native to Southern Europe, requires very little attention. Dense clusters of tiny snow-white flowers bloom continuously throughout the growing season if the spent blossoms are trimmed back. Drought tolerant and heat-resistant. Thrives in full sun to partial shade, in almost any soil. Best sown in early spring, seedlings cannot withstand a heavy frost. Suggested use: borders, disturbed areas, rock gardens, hanging baskets, mixes.” (Chesapeake Energy)

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.