Sugary breakfast cereals! Man, I loved that stuff when I was a kid in the ’60s, and no silly notion of healthier eating has ever really changed that. A bowl of some corporate variant of Sugar-Frosted Sugar Bomb Sugar Explosions! was a perfectly acceptable dessert option for me when I was younger, and it’s still one of my go-to sweet treats decades later.
I don’t recall having an awful lot of allegiance to one particular cereal over others. Maybe Quisp, because of the comic-book vibe of Jay Ward‘s TV commercials pitting the extraterrestrial imp Quisp against subterranean superhero Quake. Quisp and Quake. I’m told they were the same cereal in different shapes and textures, but don’t even try telling that to six-year-old Carl in 1966. Little Carl liked Quake. Little Carl loved Quisp.
Beyond that, though, I was positively promiscuous in my ardor for cereals. I tried and generally enjoyed them all. Kellogg’s OKs, with Yogi Bear on the box. Sugar Smacks. Sugar Pops. Sugar Crisp (later Super Sugar Crisp, with a desperate crack-addict cartoon bear wailing, Can’t get enough of Super Sugar Crisp!).Sugar Frosted Flakes. Sugar-Sparkled Twinkles. Rice Krinkles. Puffa-Puffa Rice. Cocoa Puffs. Cocoa Krispies. Ka-Boom. Lucky Charms. Clackers. King Vitaman. Count Chocula. Frankenberry. Cap’n Crunch. Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries. Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch. Apple Jacks. Trix. Fruit Loops. Frosty O’s. I confess I never cared for Life (sorry, Mikey!), nor for banana-flavored Wackies, and nothing referred to as granola ever appealed to me. I kinda dug Rice Cream Flakes. I could add sugar to Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies if I had to, but why bother with adding sugar when there were already large factories geared to the task of adding the sugar for me? See, that’s American efficiency!
The variety packs were cool, feeding–literally feeding!–the wanton nature of my cereal infidelity. You could empty the contents of a little cereal box into a bowl, just like you did with its bigger brother boxes, or you could slit the little carton, add milk, and gulp it down right out of its miniature package. More American efficiency.
As an added bonus, specially-marked boxes of Honey Combs or Alpha-Bits occasionally came with an actual, playable cardboard record for prototypical pop kids like me to cut out and groove with on the ol’ Close-N-Play. My small cache of cereal records is long gone now, but at one point I had little sweet-smelling sounds from The Monkees, The Archies, and Bobby Sherman. I tell ya, Murray the [special] K had nothing on Post Cereal.)
Eventually, as a result of changing standards and the concerns of consumer watchgroups, the offensive word sugar was banished from cereal. I blame Watergate, or Ralph Nader. The cereals were still cavity-inducing gateways to reckless ricocheting and puttin’ on a few pounds, but at least American youth had been saved from the evil of the S-word.
When did that Flintstones cereal, Fruity Pebbles, come out? The ’70s, right? I think so. That eventually became the top of my sugar pops, maybe by the time I was in high school, definitely by the time I graduated from college in 1980. Loved the stuff. It’s theoretically possible that my yen for Fruity Pebbles was enhanced by whatever else I was doing that seemed to work up a sudden, urgent appetite. Red-eyed and ravenous. Don’t judge.
I was also into Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Crispy Wheats And Raisins. In 1989, at the still-immature age of 29, the release of the Batman movie prompted me to buy a box or several of a new Batman cereal, which came packaged with a Batman piggy bank. I still have the bank, citizen, and a 1966 Batman cereal bowl to go with it.
Over the years, I’ve developed a preference for flaky cereals, probably to match my flaky personality. I still require my cereal to be sweet. I will occasionally dabble in–believe it or not–granola, which my wife likes, and which I’ve grown accustomed to. I like some of the seasonal Pumpkin Spice cereals that seem to horrify so many folks; I’m especially fond of Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats. I am as God made me.
But more often than not, my cereal choice trends to flakes. Vanilla Almond Special K was my Fave Rave for a while. Now, it’s Raisin Bran Crunch. God, I adore Raisin Bran Crunch. I rarely have it for breakfast–breakfast for me is usually peanut butter on a bagel, consumed after I get to work–but it is often my dessert. I’m good with that. Raisin Bran Crunch! After all these decades of cereal infidelity, it looks like I’m finally ready to settle down.
Now: ask me about Danish Go-Rounds.
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