Friday, April 22, 2005

Cereal killer

I come from a long line of cereal snobs. Well, snobs might be the wrong term to use, but the 19 Minutes family has always liked its cereal.

My brother was born in 1972. I remember little about the fateful day he was born except two things: a) I was sent off to stay with friends while my mom was in the hospital, and b) my breakfast that morning was Cheerios with milk and sugar.

When I was ten years old, my family drove cross-country from Maryland to the Pacific Northwest, and came back across Canada. To this day, one of my most vivid memories of the trip was buying theretofore undiscovered cereal at a grocery store in Calgary. Some kind of honey-sweetened, bear-shaped cereal. I also thought it was cool that half the box was written in French (“Un céréale miel-adouci et soutenir-formé…”), which also goes to show the deep roots of my geekdom.

One of the highlights of college for me – and for certain, what made it worth the gazillion dollars a year – was the ready access to a cereal bar (buffet?) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner every day in the dining hall. It was also in college that I was first exposed to Cap’n Crunch – not because the dining hall stocked it, but because the Quaker Oats plant was a mere 15 miles from my dorm, and on days we were directly downwind, you could smell the Cap’n wherever you went.

My wife would use the term “snob” to describe my cereal fascination – mainly because I could successfully pass a blind taste-test between real Cheerios and the Safeway “Toastie-O’s” version. Then, I would send the bowl of Toastie-O’s, unfinished, down the garbage disposal.

Lest you think I’m alone in this fascination, my dad, who has been known to consult a Zagat guide before heading out to dinner, generally keeps more boxes of cereal on hand than bottles of wine. A trip to my dad’s place always affords an exciting opportunity to get acquainted with what’s new and exciting in the cereal universe.

So I bore you with this cereal soliloquy because I feel as though I may be losing my cereal edge, or at least letting it go dull. I’ve recently acquired a box of Kellogg’s new “Tiger Power” brand cereal. Aside from the fact that it’s targeted at kids, and it sounds like a new high-octane gas from Exxon, the stuff tastes pretty good. The problem is – I’m sure it’s a repackaging of a cereal from years past. The shape, the taste, the texture – it’s all entirely familiar.

But the marketing is clearly different. Back in the ‘70s, when cereal was CEREAL, in the days when they were upfront about it and called them “Sugar” Smacks (instead of “Honey Smacks” and then plain old “Smacks”), they never would have marketed a cereal the way Tiger Power is marketed – “Grrreat for growth! High in fiber, calcium, and protein!”. So this new wrinkle, I fear, is keeping me from figuring out Tiger Power’s lineage. What were they? (Franken-O’s? Chomp-ems? Kegam Smacks?) Yes, it’s a rare interactive edition of 19 Minutes Past the Hour, should you have any thoughts. About Tiger Power.

It should be noted, however, that this morning my breakfast was, in fact, Cheerios. Milk and sugar, too… though to my knowledge, it resulted in no new siblings.


Anonymous said...

Okay, since I've been implicated in this blog, I feel compelled to comment: (a) It is not technically true that we keep more boxes of cereal than bottles of wine. The wine is just more cleverly hidden. (b) Tony the Tiger flogged Frosted Flakes (or was it Exxon?). (c) Regarding the non-arrival of another sibling today - you'll have to produce your own babies from now on.

Mitch Teich said...

Well, they're definitely not Frosted Flakes, because a) they're not frosted, and well, b) they're not flakes. But Tony the Tiger has definitely signed a new endorsement deal. It's his mug on the box, with an elementary school-aged boy. (One wonders if they'll come after Tony the Tiger, once they're done with Michael Jackson. Then it'll be Donald Duck, if only to make him put on some pants.)

Carol Davidson said...

Hi to Mitch's Dad!

Can't speak to the taste, but the shape looks like Post's HoneyComb cereal with fewer er... combs?

Anonymous said...

Okay, Tiger Power (bka as Tiger Paw cereal by Calvin) is a retread of an early 80's cereal, still can't come up with the name though. And a special thanks to Mitch for mentioning it since Cal is on his second box and requesting it for a snack, morning, noon and night. Honestly I've hit the wall with that stuff.