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He Cud-a Been a Contender

By Elizabeth Rabbins |

Vance Jones lost the big one, but he’s drinking the bitter, curdled milk of defeat with dignity. In fact, his pail runneth over with fame.

In a month-long contest to promote a Fleischmann’s butter substitute, Nabisco asked would-be cow-impersonators to call an 800 number and moo their best. Out of more than 100,000 contestants, Jones, a Richardson Independent School District building mechanic, found himself among the cream of the crop. In April, after he beat 17.300 moo-ers in the Southwest. Nabisco flew him to New York to compete against four other regional finalists at Carnegie Hall.

Alas, he lost. But Jones and his wife milked their first trip to New York for all it was worth: Carriage rides in Central Park, visits to the World Trade Center and dinners at “the finest Italian restaurants” kept him from turning sour.

Jones says he’d try lowing again and might even branch out to other animal noises. But he’s learned that being branded an expert moo-er carries its share of bull. After 15 to 20 radio, TV and newspaper interviews. Jones says the media herd is becoming udderly ridiculous. His father-in-law has been helping care for Jones’ two children and is even more fed up. “He told me that if this mooing didn’t quit, he”s going to make hamburger out of me, ” says Jones.