Calbee Dog Knows A Thing Or Two About Love If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you may have heard about the economic downturn that's been going on in the United States. It's been getting a lot of play in the media lately, but even though it's a big, important story - what with the bursting housing bubble and the subprime lending and all that other crap I can barely understand - I'm a lot more concerned about how my country is falling behind in another, less widely reported way. I'm worried about the state of our snack chip mascots. The last of the truly great American snack chip mascots was surely Chester Cheetah, whose jazz-inspired, "cool daddio" attitude made him a favorite among children, mental defectives and promotional t-shirt manufacturers alike. But that was a long time ago, and though he may have been a pop culture phenomenon a decade or two ago (starring in not one, but TWO video games), those days are clearly in the past. If that's the best we can offer the global snack chip mascot pantheon as a nation, we might be in bigger trouble than originally thought. Even in his prime, though, all Chester really did was wear sunglasses and feign hipster indifference. He was never really the type to try to cheer up a young, heartbroken schoolboy, and that, I think, is our problem right there: American snack chip mascots are interested in hawking their wares, not solving our problems. Don't they realize that a happy consumer is a spending consumer? I'm no economist, but I'm pretty sure this is why we're falling behind as a nation. We need to take a note from the Japanese playbook here: helpful snack chip mascots lead to a strong economy. That means it's time to lose the shades, Chester, but don't worry; maybe you and the Pringles guy can open a free clinic together or something.