The Prank Letters of S. William Kost

Over the last ten years, I have written dozens of joke letters, sometimes under pseudonyms, to companies large and small in America and around the world. Many of these companies have written back.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Seattle Aquarium 3/31/98

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 31, 1998

Seattle Aquarium
Lost and Found
1483 Alaskan Way
Waterfront Park, Pier 59
Seattle, WA 98101

Dear Lost and Found Manager,

I had the pleasure of visiting your fine Aquarium last year while on a family vacation. My wife, Cindy, my two sons, Aaron and Doug, and my niece Francesca spent the afternoon of July 18 taking in all of the sights and sounds of your beautiful facility. We stood in awe of the majestic octopus. We laughed at the crazy antics of the penguins. We accidentally dropped our toaster into the seal tank.

You read correctly. I'm embarrassed to admit this horrible debacle to you, but I must bite the bullet and press on. You see, we Kosts have a family tradition of going to nearby Laurelhurst Park and feeding bread to the ducks. In recent years, we have decided it would be a special treat to the friendly fowl if we were to toast the bread we gave them. We've taken our toaster directly to the park, secured an electrical outlet, and cooked up an entire loaf of fresh Poulsbo bread at once. The ducks love it!

This year, we chose to take this tradition on the road. As we were planning to go to the Seattle Aquarium anyway, we thought it would be harmless to bring our toaster inside and treat your seals to a fresh toast breakfast. Your friendly employee Mr. Jenkins said it would be no trouble at all. The problem occurred when we couldn't find an outlet to plug the machine into; while searching, I carelessly set the toaster on the ledge of the tank, and one of your seals, thinking it was a new toy, pulled on the cord with his teeth. Ker-plunk! I panicked at that point, and shuffled the family out of there as quickly as possible.

For months I thought I could just sweep this tragedy under the rug, but alas, my conscience spoke loudest. My friends, I humbly apologize for the trouble I surely must have caused you. I was also wondering if I could get my toaster back. It is a Black and Decker Model 750-4b, black, wet, with tooth marks in the cord.

Again, I'm sorry. Please respond soon, so my conscience can stop torturing me. And say hello to Mary and Janice in the gift shop.

I burnt the toast this time,

S. William Kost

P.S. Please send an XL T-shirt for cousin Bob.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Procter & Gamble 3/31/98

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 31, 1998

Proctor & Gamble
Pert Plus Department
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Dear Shampoo Manufacturers,

Why in the world do you print an ingredient list on the label of your shampoo? Are there people out there who are crazy enough to drink it?

What's next? Serving Sizes? Nutrition Facts?

All worked up into a lather,

S. William Kost

P.S. Pert Plus what?

Dear Mr. Kost:

Thank you for contacting Procter & Gamble about Pert Plus Shampoo. We welcome the opportunity to answer your question.

Federal law requires the listing of all ingredients for any food or drug product. Shampoos, beauty care products, etc. all fall under the jurisdiction of the Food a& Drug Administration. Additionally, many consumers can be allergic to certain ingredients and need to know if the product contains them. I hope you find this information helpful.

If you have questions or comments in the future, you may find it convenient to call the toll-free number listed on our product packages. Thanks again for getting in touch with us.

Janie Rice
Consumer Relations - CCT

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mayor Vera Katz 12/10/97

Written by hand (sloppily), when I actually lived in the city.

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

December 10, 1997

The Honorable Mayor Vera Katz
Office of the Mayor
Portland, OR 97204

Dear Mayor Katz,

Portland is such a wonderful city. I have lived here all of my life (25 years), and I may just live here 25 more.

One of the traditions of Portland I like is the annual Peacock Lane show of lights. They're sure festive, aren't they? I like to go every year,but lately I've found that as a driver, it's more and more difficult to concentrate on looking at the lights because I have to keep looking at the car in front of me so as not to rear-end it. As if the cars weren't moving slow enough—a rear-end accident would just make it that much worse.

So, why doesn't the city install a conveyor track into Peacock Lane, similar to one found in an automatic car wash? A driver would be guided onto the track, put car in neutral and be able to totally focus on the splendor of the lights (not the brake lights in front of them). All it would take would be an attendant each night to guide cars in (creating jobs!) and metal plate to put over it in the off-season (like a manhole cover).

I think it's a great idea. Most of my friends thinks o too, except for the kids (who don't have to drive)—they don't care either way.

Please write back to me and tell me what you think. If you want to, I can tell you about some of my other ideas (tinted contact lenses; chrome plated personal drinking straws). My address is at the beginning of the letter.

Thanks a million! Happy Holidays!

Your Fellow Citizen,

S. William Kost

Dear Mr. Kost:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding your idea for Peacock Lane.

Although I empathize with you regarding the car traffic on Peacock Lane, I would encourage you to consider walking the lane. The concerns about traffic collisions on the lane are warranted. However, given the utmost caution exhibited by the vast majority of attentive drivers; the problem has been minimized.

Given the reduction in city services, the City is in no position to consider this proposal at the expense of other essential public services.

Again, thank you for contacting my office with your idea.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Circuit City 10/22/96

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

October 22, 1996

Dear Manager,

I am a retired individual living in an apartment all alone. I don't like to get out much at all, except to buy groceries, and collect and post the mail. I don't own a car, and I don't ride the bus, ever. Simply put, I'm a hermit.

However, there are times which require my leaving the place for very necessary reasons. See, my refrigerator is on its last leg, and darnit if I can't get the landlord to do anything about it. I know I need a new fridge (the greens ain't staying green for too long), but I would really prefer to shop for a new one by choosing it at home. This way, of course, I don't have to be outside of my apartment for very long.

I subscribe to the Sunday Oregonian, and last issue came with one of your advertisements. I was of course looking for a good deal on a fridge, and yours was the only ad I could find with a fridge for sale. I liked what I saw, but there is a nagging question which I would need to clear up. In the picture of the Amana 24.5 Cu. Ft. model, I see that it is well-stocked with various grocery items. Would I be able to get an inventory of the items which come with that model? Also, when looking closely at the picture (nice photo work, by the way), I notice that there is a gallon of Minute Maid Orange Juice. I must say, that is quite a generous portion, one gallon, but may I substitute another brand (preferably Tropicana)? I had a bad case of the runs after drinking a glass of Minute Maid a few years ago, and ever since, the mere sight of the stuff gives me gas.

So, if these questions could be answered soon, I'd appreciate it. And remember, Tropicana, not Minute Maid. Thank you.

Please Don't Call,

S. William Kost

P.S. Does Circuit City actually have a mayor, or is it just a catchy name?


Monday, March 06, 2006

Camino Real Foods, 9/20/96

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

September 20, 1996

Camino Real Foods
Gardena, CA 90249

Dear Food Producers,

Today I went to the BP Gas Staion and food mart on 20th & Burnside, and I got a big Coke and two Tina's burritos, which I heated upin their microwave. On the way home, after the burritos had cooled down a bit, I started to eat one. It was really good! I pretty much scarfed it down quickly. I was eating the second one at home and decided to look at the wrapper. Sometimes I do this just to see what makes a food taste the way it does, either good or bad. Anyways, I started readoing the nu trition info and the ingredients list, and saw the part that says FILLING:. The first two ingredtints were, Water, Beef,... and I started to think, Well, what part of the beef is it? I can usally taste the difference between the ground beef part and, say, the round steak parts of the cow. But I thought this burrito contained something I really couldn't put my finger on. It tasted somthing like lips or possibly tail of the cow, perhaps thearea around the hooves, I wasn't sure.

So I thought I'd write to you to get the true scoop on where the Beef comes from. Your burritos are much grande, but if I'm eating cow ears, then I'm going to get a hot dog or something.

Please write Back Soon,

S. William Kost

P.S. Do you sell or give away promotional Tina's Burrito T-shirts? Let me know; I wear an XL. Thanks

Dear Mr. Kost:

We appreciate your effort in informing us about your recent experience with our Tina's Burritos.

Your comments regarding the beef in our product are appreciated. We use only the finest ingredients and all of our suppliers are carefully selected. The highest quality of beef trimmings are used, which we feel yeilds [sic] the tastiest and most consistent product. Your comments have been passed on to our Manager of Quality Control for his attention.

We hope that you will accept the two coupons enclosed with this letter, and will give us another try. These coupons may be redeemed at your local grocer.

We again thank you for your comments and appreciate your effort.

Debbi Collins
Consumer Relations - CRF


Tinactin 9/19/96

I really start to play up the "idiot" persona by adding more spelling and grammatical errors...

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

September 19, 1996

Tinactin Division
Schering-Plough Health
  Care Products, Inc.
Memphis, TN 38151

Dear Fungus Fighters,

I've been using Tinactin Deodorant Powder Aerosol for a while now, and have been quite pleased with the results. As I work for the city as a sewer unclogger, I am required to wear water- and airtight boots. Since the ventilation is poor, as I don't have to tell you, foot fungus can be a problem. So I use Tinactin to keep away the fungus, and congradulations on making a produt that works!

There's a sort of problem, though. See, last weekend I was watching a game on TV (I don't remember which one), and anyways that commercial with John Mandon saying BOOM all the time, and it showed a foot with actual flames on it being extinguished by Tinactin! And I thought, "hey! that stuff can put out flames, and it's cheaper than a fire extinguisher, why don't I buy a couple of cans for the truck to use in a pinch! But then I looked at the can, to see if it was okay to test out on a match or something, and! I saw the warning label, which says "do not spray while smoking or near fire." (It also said to avoid spraying in eyes, but that's another letter, because who would be dumb enough to spray it in your eyes?)

The question I have is, if the can says not to use it near flame, how was Jon Madon able to do it in the commercial?

Please write back to me soon, because at this point I'm not sure who to believe. Plus the extinquisher is almost empty because of an incident with the toaster, and it's getting time to get a new one.

Burning to Know,

S. William Kost