Crunchy cereal uber alles

I can’t talk right now. 

I’m eating a bowl of cereal. 

Hang on… 

Just a minute…last bite.

Wait! I need to drink the milk out of the bowl.

Ahhh!

Ok. I’m ready.

As soon as milk makes contact with my cereal, time stands still. No phone calls, no conversations (unless I don’t have to talk and you don’t mind my slurping), no emergencies. Need the Heimlich maneuver, CPR performed, or 911 called? Sorry, you’ll have to wait because I just poured milk into my cereal and if I don’t eat it right now, it will get soggy. And there’s literally nothing worse than that. Nothing.

 I love cereal as a meal and I don’t mean for breakfast. It’s my lunchtime staple. Everyday. It’s fast, filling, and cheap. If I could serve cereal to my family for dinner without a major revolt, I’d do it. (Heck, I might do it anyway.) What sides go with Reese’s Puffs? Mashed potatoes and gravy? It has a cereal-esque quality to it after all – the gravy = milk. Ok, maybe steamed broccoli is a better choice. 

I grew up on cereal. During the week it was Rice Crispies topped with frozen strawberries and an appalling amount of sugar. For Saturday morning cartoons, I munched on Cookie Crisp or Froot Loops – no milk. My gums hurt until Sunday night’s “Muppet Show” with a heaping bowl of Cap’n Crunch. It was a good pain.

When I was nine, big black gnarly ants were discovered in the HoneyComb box. And as with all stale popcorn, moldy bread, or uneaten pizza crusts, my mom tossed it in the backyard for the birds and squirrels to eat. Despite lying in the dewy grass overnight, two neighbor girls decided our HoneyComb still had big, big taste in a big, big bite and ate every last one off of the ground. After watching that revolting display of low standards, I never again questioned why my mom wouldn’t allow me to go into their house to play. That cereal had to have been an entirely new level of mushy. Who knows what kind of wickedness was going on in that house! Good call, Mom!

Oh, the Kellogg’s Variety Pack! Eight mini cereal boxes from which to choose! Grandma would buy it for me as a special treat for my semi-annual weekend visits. My ten-year-old brain would carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option:

Froot Loops: Always awesome.

Frosted Flakes: The first bite is good, after that I’m over it. 

Raisin Bran: Gag me with a spoon!

Corn Pops: Strong possibility but gross when soggy and the clock is really ticking once the milk is poured. 

Sugar Smacks: Despite sugar in the name, this cereal creeps me out. Maybe it’s the frog (don’t frogs eat insects?) maybe it’s the cereal itself. Kind of looks like dog food.

Corn Flakes: Boring.

Rice Krispies: Been there done that.  Plus Grandma won’t let me get away with the appalling amount of sugar necessary.

Apple Jacks: Apple flavored cereal. Totally grody.

Froot Loops wins again! Thanks Grandma! 

Hurry!

I demand to know what happened to the cereal prize at the bottom of the box. Who decided this was no longer a thing? Probably the same people who mandated helmets, banned dodge ball, and hand out participation trophies. Did they think it was a choking hazard? If a kid is clueless enough to eat the prize well, the nicest thing I can say is, he/she has a bright future in government. But I digress. We all know cereal purchases were made (cajoled) with the coolness of the prize as a major factor (pretty please, Mom?!). Super-ball or Mr. Spock ears? Bazooka gum or temporary Mr. T tattoos? Whatever it was, you can be sure I’d fish it out of the box with my grubby ten-year-old hands before my brother and sister could get it. One of the perks of grocery shopping with Mom: advance intel on the cereal prize.

Back in my babysitting days, I was reprimanded by a parent for breaking the family’s, “all the cereal must be eaten first before anyone gets the cereal prize” rule. Apparently the mom wasn’t too keen on my grubby 15-year-old hands fishing out the prize to give to the kids before they ate all of the Count Chocula. What were the parents trying to teach their kids? Self-restraint? Patience? That’s just stupid! I can’t believe the kids ratted me out! Ingrates! Whatever. 

As an adult, I’d like to believe my taste in cereal is more erudite in nature. Health, or fiber levels, is actually considered in my cereal choices. So is sugar. As in, it’s still in there. Not at an appalling level, just on one side of my Frosted Shredded Bite Size Wheat (the ALDI version of Frosted Mini-Wheats.) I’ll even switch things up on occasion with Kellogg’s Special-K Red Berries. For being “healthy,” that’s some really good cereal (and I don’t even add sugar!). My only complaint is, inconsistencies with the distribution of the strawberries – a lot in the beginning, not so much towards the bottom. Yes, I’ve tried shaking the box but they somehow defy gravity. Those berries are magically delicious.

Maybe I should launch my own cereal. I’ll call it, “Double Frosted Fiber Berry Bites.” It will have a staggering amount of fiber, be covered in sugar (both sides), have an equal amount of strawberries throughout, take a super long time to get soggy in milk, and the best part? The prizes are sitting right on top of the cereal. What should be the prize? A $50 off coupon for the dentist or the proctologist? I agree. Mr. Spock ears it is!

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