Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Post Super Bowl thoughts from southern Minnesota February 5, 2018

I started my Super Bowl Sunday (after attending worship services) by dining at the Faribault Lions Club Super Sunday Pancake & Sausage Feed with my husband, Randy, and his brother. Neil was on his way home to Missouri after visiting family in Minnesota for the weekend. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


FOR ME TO STAY UP past 11 p.m. rates as rare. But I did last night. Until nearly 12:30 a.m. Monday. I wanted to watch The Tonight Show from Minneapolis, ending way too much time for me in front of the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. But, you know, when the championship game plays out in your home state, you get caught up in the excitement—even if you don’t much care about sports, which I don’t. I finally have it down that a touchdown earns a team six points.


Not a ref from the Super Bowl…image used here for illustration only. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.


During past Super Bowls, I’ve focused primarily on the commercials and the half-time show. I still did this year. But, for the first time ever, I watched most of the game. Except for the 33 minutes and 35 seconds I missed when my Wisconsin daughter called during the third and fourth quarters. Family trumps football any day, even on Super Bowl Sunday.


Icy cold beer served up in a Minnesota Vikings mug chilled in the snow. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


It was an exciting game. I found myself rooting for the underdog Philadelphia Eagles, even if they kept the Vikings from the biggest game in football and even though I can’t stand those creepy dog masks worn by some Eagles fans. I did, though, feel, for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has a strong Minnesota connection via his mom, born and raised here. Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of Brady. That just shows how much of a football fan I am not.

As for that half-time show…I’m not raving like most are about Justin Timberlake’s performance. But then I’m not a Timberlake, nor a Prince (gasp), fan. Unfamiliar with the songs performed, I couldn’t understand the lyrics. And when Minneapolis lit up in purple during half-time, I didn’t even notice the Prince symbol displayed.


Two weeks ago a major storm dumped 16 inches of snow on Faribault and other parts of Minnesota. Snow also fell on Super Bowl weekend. But it is the cold, below zero temps and minus double digit windchills that marked the weather. I was delighted with the weather, which played perfectly off Minnesota’s Super Bowl tag as the “Bold North.” Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo January 2018.


I saw many, but not all, of the commercials. My favorites focused on the theme of bringing our country together in an especially divisive year. Strength. Unity. Togetherness. Diversity. I especially liked T-Mobile’s “Little Ones” spot featuring babies of multiple ethnicities paired with empowering words. Most, but not all, of these social cause ads worked for me. In the didn’t like/work would be the Dodge Ram Truck ad using the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I didn’t appreciate his inspiring words used for a commercial purpose.

TurboTax nailed the humor, at least for me, with ads themed on convincing viewers they have nothing to fear in doing their taxes. A monster creeping from under a bed, a ghost in an attic—both were memory relatable. I just hope no little kids got scared.

The Mucinex spot that zoned in on post Super Bowl Monday as a sick day also tickled my funnybone and, in a round-about way, connected to that daughter who called me during the game. Thirty years ago she also used boogers to illicit laughter. “How do you make a Kleenex dance?” she asked kids and parents during a family skate time at a (now closed) Faribault rollerskating rink. “You put a little boogie in it,” she delivered in her sweet preschool voice.


A wonderful blend of textures is presented in Wild Rice Hotdish, another popular Minnesota dish. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


A year from now I likely will have forgotten who played in Super Bowl LII. I will have forgotten the record low game time kick-off temp of one degree above zero. (An effort is underway to collect cold weather gear for Minnesota homeless from Super Bowl attendees returning to warm weather destinations via “Pass Your Parkas.”)  I will have forgotten the Mucinex and other commercials. I will have forgotten who performed at half-time. I will have forgotten how Jimmy Fallon gushed about Minneapolis and the Tater Tot Hotdish (not casserole) served to him by a Champlin family. But that memory of my sweet preschooler—now a grown woman—telling that joke about boogers, that I still, and will always, remember.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Twenty-three names & an unforgettable Super Bowl commercial February 1, 2015

Although tasty, Flamin' Bleu was not quite what Randy expected. He expected chunks of bleu cheese topping the pizza. But then we are bleu cheese fanatics with award-winning bleu cheeses produced in our home community of Faribault.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

DURING THE FIRST QUARTER of today’s Super Bowl, listen closely to a commercial that starts with a telephone call. A woman orders a pizza, half mushroom, half pepperoni. Except she’s not really ordering a pizza.

In the first ever Super Bowl ad addressing the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault, the NO MORE movement makes a powerful statement.


NO MORE logo


See for yourself by clicking here.


ANGEL, AMBER, ANGEL, Beverly, Carrie, Doris, Katie, Kelly, Kelly, Kiela, Komel, Laura, Lorraine, Michelle, Miranda, Susan, Towanda, Richard, Amelia, British, Francesca, Prince and Raniya.

Twenty-three names.

Twenty-three victims.

Twenty-three individuals murdered.

Last week the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women released its annual Femicide Report dedicated to the 23 children, women and men who lost their lives in Minnesota in 2014 as a result of domestic violence.

If you care, and you should, I’d suggest you read this report by clicking here.

You will see their faces. You will read their stories. Horrible stories. These victims were strangled, shot, stabbed, beaten and more.

This could be your daughter, your sister, your niece, your friend, your neighbor, your brother, your mother…don’t think it can’t be.

Recognize the red flags (click here) that are signs of an abusive relationship. Refuse to buy into excuses for, or accept, violent and emotionally controlling and manipulative behavior.

Trust your gut. There’s a reason you are questioning someone’s words or actions. If something doesn’t feel or seem right, it’s not. Lies are not truth.

Educate yourself. Knowledge is power.


Seek help. No one—victims or families—has to go this alone.

FYI: If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or a domestic violence hotline in your community.

To learn more about a national campaign against domestic violence, click here to reach the NO MORE website.

Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Super Bowl ads: The babe I liked & the one I didn’t February 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:49 AM
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First off, how many of you watched the Super Bowl? How many of you were more interested in the commercials than in the big game?

I could care less about the game. But the ads interest me. I didn’t see all of them, but I caught enough to be unimpressed.

I’d give “the best” award to the Doritos ad where an adorable baby rockets to snatch a bag of snacks and then munches on the chips alongside a smiling grandma. The ad was cute, memorable and I got it. I don’t always understand the commercials.

Teleflora gets my “the worst” ad distinction for its pure sex-infused commercial featuring an alluring woman encouraging men to give flowers for Valentine’s Day. “Give and you shall receive,” she purrs. “She” happens to be famous Brazilian model Adriana Lima.

Seriously, Teleflora marketing people, do not insult women by airing ads like this.

Also, and this really, truly, absolutely bugs me. A few years ago we bailed out the auto makers. Yet, they have millions of dollars to spend on Super Bowl advertising. What gives here?

Speaking of car ads, I didn’t like the Hyundai ad with the cheetah attacking a man. It reminds me too much of those animal-pursuing-animal/survival-of-the-fittest television documentaries.

A snippet from the new jcp print ad. Bold, bright and hip, wouldn't you agree?

OK, now lest you think I’m oozing negativity today, let’s turn our attention to retailer jcp, which I know as Penneys. The department store is making big changes, most noticeable to me in the magazine style advertising insert tucked inside my local daily newspaper on Super Bowl Sunday.

Changes were inevitable with former Apple executive Ron Johnson now serving as the new jcp CEO. And might I add, changes were needed to update the image of a retailer that seems more suited to my 79-year-old mother, or me, than to my 20-something daughters. I don’t really ever hear my daughters talk about shopping at Penneys. Typically they gravitate toward the more hip Target.

But it’s obvious, from the print and television ads I’ve seen, that jcp is trying to draw a younger, hipper crowd. Their new ads are crisp, clean, bold, bright and packed with motion.

Even more important, the company is eliminating those continual sales promotion mailings. Finally.

Instead of the previous complicated, ongoing, ever-changing sales system, the company is switching to a “fair and square” approach of everyday lower prices, month-long values and first and third Friday mark-downs. It all still sounds a bit too complicated. But anything has to be better than the previous marketing strategy.

So there you have it—my take on the world of advertising on Super Bowl Sunday.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? Give me your input on the Super Bowl commercials and/or on jcp’s new approach to marketing and sales? I’d like to hear what you think, even if your take differs from mine.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling