MENUDITIS has played an integral role in the success of Menudo for well over 25 years. Owned by Bruni and Bolivar Arellano, it was once an actual store located in the heart of Manhattan. Now, they continue to offer rare, out-of-print and hard-to-find mementos online. When asked how Menuditis first got started, Bruni explained the story of its inception and included a series of extraordinary photos (slideshow below)...

My oldest daughter, Ester, was the big Menudo fan in our home. We would see her watching their shows on TV -- one night, it caught our attention when they aired the concert at Bellas Artes, Puerto Rico and the huge Puerto Rican flag came down. We were so impressed that when we heard they were coming to New York (February 1983), both my husband, Bolivar, and I, being freelance photographers, decided to go meet them and cover their activities here in the city. Little did we know they were going to be a part of us for the rest of our lives!

It so happened that my husband knew Manolito Rodriguez, who was, at that time, the group's promoter. Manolito was also the promoter for Iris Chacon -- and he was very impressed of the great pictures my husband took of Iris at that time, which is how he first met Manolito.

We went to the airport and it was crazy - packed with fans, which we didn't expect. The police certainly had their hands full! When we arrived at the hotel, we saw all the girls going crazy, trying to find a way to get to the group -- we also noticed that they all had "Noticias Del Mundo," a Spanish paper that was publishing pictures and information on the group. So, thanks to Manolito Rodriguez, we had access to the group for the 10 days they were here... the hotel rooms, the concert, Central Park and other private activities. We fell in love with this kids! They were sooooo famous, but at the same time, they were so humble, so down to earth. I had my youngest daughter, Linda with me (3 years old at the time) and they were all playing with her. We were so impressed at how young, but very mature and respectful they were. We had caught the famous Menuditis fever!

Bolivar and Brunilda Arellano

After they left, I told my husband, "We have such great pictures, and you saw how the girls had the newspaper just for the pictures?" So he said, "Well, let's put an add in that newspaper ("Noticias Del Mundo" - no longer in publication). Oh my GOD!! I never imagined the outcome of that add... at 6 AM, my phone started ringing and we had over 900 calls from fans. We plastered the wall in our apt with pictures. When the first fan knocked at our door, I made sure I opened and noticed they were a little hesitant, maybe scared, and I didn't blame them. I asked them to come in and they were all screaming when they saw the pictures. We started selling black and white, but had also taken color and started printing them since they wanted color copies also. They asked me if I was selling some of their merchandise, which I was not aware they even had merchandise. My husband decided we could travel to Puerto Rico, buy some of the merchandise and open a store for a few months (haha!) -- not to mention, the tenants where I live were wondering what was going on at my apt. seeing so many people coming in and out.

We traveled to Padosa in Puerto Rico and asked about opening a store here (NY). We were informed that we could, but that we couldn't use the Menudo name... sooooo, I came up with MENUDITIS and this was the beginning of our history with the group, Menudo. We started traveling to their concerts in Puerto Rico with Padosa organizing tours to Puerto Rico which included airfare, hotel concert tickets with great seats and get togethers with the group. Can you imagine? These guys were untouchable and here we were, given the opportunity to have fans that adore them meet them (and my sneaky husband even managed a picture of each fan with them - haha!) The guys were very friendly through the years we got very closed to most of them and their parents as to even get invited to their homes and some have visited ours.

One thing I do have to say is that once a Menudo fan, always a Menudo fan! Menudo fans are the most loyal fans that I have met. Even after the guys have left the group, their fans are still there to show their support for them. We will always treasure the experiences we had with Menudo and they will always be in our hearts!

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