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Fun on Friday: Yukon Cornelious’ Misguided Quest

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Now it’s time to talk Christmas!

I know. A lot of people started with Christmas the day after Halloween. This absolutely drives me crazy. Why do we just skip over Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is a magnificent holiday! I mean, it’s important to give thanks. And who doesn’t want to eat large amounts of delicious food and watch football? But in this day and age, Thanksgiving gets completely run over by Christmas.

Well, not at the Maharrey house. You won’t hear the first note of Christmas music before Thanksgiving. You won’t see the first twinkle of Christmas lights. You won’t spot the first strand of tinsel.

But now that we’re polishing off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, the tree is going up, the lights are getting strung and the Christmas music is blaring!

My objection to pre-Thanksgiving Christmas stuff is no reflection on my love for Christmas. As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” I love this season.

As I get older, I particularly treasure the memories of Christmas past. Many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around Christmastime. And there were certain traditions that stand out in my mind. Mom baking cookies. Midnight Christmas service at the church. This seasonal potpourri my mom cooked on the stove. Man, that smelled good. And I’ve never quite been able to duplicate it.

One of my favorite traditions was watching the Christmas specials on TV. I think that’s lost on a lot of people today in our world of on-demand streaming. I used to scour the TV guide out of the newspaper (boy, I’m dating myself) and wait in eager expectation for the Christmas specials to air. Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas were all staples. But my favorite was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

Here’s a confession: when I was really little, the abominable snow monster horrified me.

In retrospect, I have to wonder why. Remember when he tipped over? The bottom of his feet looked just like the bottom of my footie pajamas. How did I not notice that? How did I not realize that the abominable was a fake? I guess a 5-year-old has limited powers of observation.

But other than being scared of the PJ-footed snow monster, I loved that show. Honestly, I still do.

Now, as a guy who writes about gold and silver for a living, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Yukon Cornelious. As you recall, he wandered the north in search of silver and gold. But I bet you don’t know the whole story behind old Yukon. Because the version most of us watched on TV every year cut it out.

You’ll recall that when Cornelious meets Rudolph and Hermey, he launched into a dramatic and emphatic introduction.

The name’s Yukon Cornelious, the greatest prospector in the north! And you know, it’s rich with gold! Gold! Gold and silver! Silver and gold! Wahooo!”

He punctuates his greeting by tossing his pickaxe in the air, licking it, and declaring, “Nothin’.”

This pickaxe toss and lick repeats throughout the show. When you stop and think about it, it’s kind of weird. But I never noticed it as a kid. Of course, this is the same kid who didn’t notice the snow monster was wearing footed pajamas.

On a side-note, how did his tongue not freeze to the metal in the frozen arctic?

Anyway, you are probably under the impression that Yukon was hoping to discover riches in gold and silver. That’s certainly the impression the show gives you.

Well, that’s not what he was doing at all.

Now for those of you who grew up on network TV, you know that things were often edited for commercials. This was the case with Rudolph. There is a scene that was deleted by CBS that explains exactly what Yukon was looking for. Rick Goldschmidt wrote a book on Rudolph and calls this “the most significant deleted scene.” An article in the Huffington Post explains what happened.

It comes right after Rudolph guides Santa through the air to the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph’s parents, Donner and Mrs. Donner, Rudolph’s girlfriend, Clarice, and Cornelius are featured, while Donner says, ‘That’s my buck!’ finally confirming Rudolph’s dad is no longer ashamed, as Goldschmidt points out. But more illuminating is that the scene finally gives an answer as to why Cornelius kept licking his pickax throughout the special. In this deleted scene, Cornelius throws his ax in the air, lets it strike the ground and then, after licking it as he has been wont to do, declares, ‘Peppermint! What I’ve been searching for all my life! I’ve struck it rich. I’ve got me a peppermint mine … Wahoooo!’”

And here’s the deleted scene. You’re welcome!

Interestingly, if you’re a bit older than I, you may remember the deleted scene. It last aired on TV in 1964. It’s also on the DVD. So, if you have watched it with your kids, you already knew this little secret. And I feel better that I didn’t smash your childhood memories.

Anyway, peppermint is great for Christmas, but I think Yukon was a little misguided. I’ll take gold and silver, thank you very much.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.


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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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