Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raisin Bran Sog and How to Avoid It

Forgive me, if you will, for shilling for a product I find highly amenable to my morning ritual: that rich uncle of raisin bran, Kellogg's Raisin Bran Crunch. Like Willie Nelson and red licorice, this stuff just doesn't get old. Normally, I'm highly cynical of spin-off cereals. Like Berry Kix, et al. If your first cereal wasn't good enough, what makes you think I'll like your second, third, or eighteenth (Soccer Crunch, much?)? But this one's different. I'll admit, when I first saw this on shelves a number of years back, I thought to myself, in my most Scroogey interior monologue, 'What do we have here? Another Johnny-come-lately in the raisin bran family? Bah humbug.' A couple of months went by. Eventually, I couldn't resist this granola- and nut-encrusted Siren of the cereals. And thank God I broke down, because Raisin Bran Crunch is now one of my all-time faves.

Assuming you're cool with bran flakes and plump raisins in your breakfast bowl, traditional raisin bran still has one major stumbling block that's kept it from going viral: persistent, inescapable, irreversible sogginess. Most raisin brans, and I'm not just talking Kellogg's here, suffer from the same ailment: flakes that last about a minute in milk before giving up the crunchy ghost and going soft, soft, soft. Sure, you can get used to this, but can you every really get excited about it? Maybe I'm wrong; maybe some people love that about it. And maybe they have a Gilligan's Island lunchbox or nine cats or a front lawn made of artificial turf. But let's leave those people out of the conversation. Because what I'm talking about here is crunch.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

in the past hour i ate a whole box of cereal

Not me, but this guy. And don't miss the insightful commentary. Highlight: "Cerealboy!"

More cereal-related web detritus as I find it. Because I love you. And because I'm snacking on the very Kix I recently dismissed. Penance.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Surviving the Hunt … and Living to See Another Bowl

Second to consuming it, the thing I like most about cereal is shopping for it. It’s the thrill of the hunt, I suppose – a primal connection to my distant ancestors, who had to track and kill cereal in the wild every morning. I wish I could experience one of those aboriginal hunts, just to invigorate my senses: Swarms of Frosted Cheerios (thanks, Urban Dictionary!) bounding in peril across the African savannah; a clan of tall, lanky Seltenriches in hot pursuit, wearing only boxer shorts; back at camp, bowls made of wildebeest skulls, filled to the brim with the coldest goat’s milk. Forgive me if I’m romanticizing or flubbing the details; they may have in fact been antelope skulls. I am simply not sure. The point is that my weekly quest for delicious cereals at fair prices is not merely a force of habit. It’s genetic.

Some people, when faced with the modern supermarket’s sprawling cereal aisle, may be overcome by options, paralyzed by fear of failure. Make a mistake here and you’ll meet it face-to-face in the cupboard every morning for a week. I sometimes see such people floundering there in the store, pacing from the Froot Loops to the granola and back again, picking up boxes and putting them back, eyeing price tags and nutrition labels. There is panic in their eyes. I can’t help but feel for them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved? Syke!

Kix is the Ralph Wiggums of cereal: Round, yellow, not too bright, innocent, sweetly endearing. But instead of saying things like “I’ll iron you” and “My cat's breath smells like cat food,” Kix just kind of sits there.

I recently bought a very humongous, 18-ounce box of Kix at the local Pac N Save because it was on sale for some ridiculously low price, because I hadn’t had it in years, and because I remembered liking it as a young lad. My wife was skeptical. “Kix are lame,” she said, or something to that effect. I rebuked her. “No, they’re not!” I insisted. “They’re great!” (Though I didn’t drag out the ‘r,’ so as not to offend the nearby boxes of Frosted Flakes. They're sensitive.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal: RIP

In discussing cereal, I am most often asked two questions. Do you REALLY eat four bowls of cereal every morning? Yes, I am that awesome. I mix them up, samurai-style. So what is your favorite cereal? Being hip and nostalgic and obsessed with that which I cannot have, I inevitably answer this way: Rice Krispies Treats Cereal. I used to eat them as a kid, up through high school perhaps. And up until about four seconds ago, I thought they no longer existed. Haven't seen them in stores since the late '90s. Yet a Google search yielded this marshmallow-sticky pearl of wisdom: Try Amazon. I should've figured. They do books. They do backpacks. Why the hell not boxes of long-lost cereal? (Amazon reviewers [52 of them] have given RKTC a very honorable rating of 4.5 our of 5. Bitchin', dudes!)

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal, the rainbow-striped unicorn of breakfast products. I wish you could try the stuff. (Well, you can; order a set of four boxes from Amazon, as I am surely about to do. A follow-up post is in order: Do my adult taste buds still appreciate their saccharine crunch?) For now, this description will suffice: Imagine Rice Krispies bonded together by marshmallow-flavored sugar into little bite-size clusters. Divine. Never goes soggy. Never bespoils the milk. Sweet, but not tooth-achingly so. A+ stuff, and the perfect morning pick-me-up for a coffee-free existence.

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Corn or Not to Corn: That Is An Inane Question

Before we get into the fun stuff, there's something I want to talk to you about. Of course what I am referring to is the question of whether one should refer to the above cereal as "Pops" or "Corn Pops." Our populace is divided, and no solution is in sight. Lines are being drawn. Sides are being taken. Cereal is being consumed without a clear sense of how to refer to it. Our country is suffering as a result.

Take a friend down the cereal aisle some Friday night. Point to the aforementioned cereal and ask them to identify it. "Pops?" Or "Corn Pops?" How they respond may well determine the future of your friendship with this social outcast who, like you, has nothing better to do than shop for breakfast cereals on a Friday night (and as much as I love cereal, which is tons 'n' tons, I firmly believe it is first and foremost a weekday breakfast item, so there is absolutely no use in trotting out that tired excuse on a Friday night. Do your love life a favor and have some eggs or Malt-O-Meal on Saturday morning.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh's Say Can You See (A Ripoff)

Here we have one of the cereal world's most serious fiscal matters: the recent, unexplained spike in the price of a box of Quaker Oh's. There was a time not long ago when this delightful cereal -- Good Things In The Middle indeed! -- was available for the insultingly low price of $1.99. Every time, everywhere: $1.99. That's like four tacos at Jack in the Box. Or nearly two at a taco cart. Or two and some change at Taco Bell. Pick your poison.

I digress. This glorious $1.99 was below the sale price of most comparable cereals. It was, in fact, nearly as cheap (by ounce) as the bags of cereal on the bottom shelf (like the passable Apple Jacks imitation, the curious Frosted Mini Wheats knockoff, and the frankly embarrassing Cinnamon Toast Crunch attempt) that, like a good friend or a can of Keystone Light, led you by the hand through the awkward college years. Don't act like you don't remember them. But the ironic thing is Oh's are no bottom-shelf cereal. This is a top-shelf classic, one you'd like your kids to eat and later remember nostalgically, just as we're doing here.

Getting Cereal

So, cereal. You know the stuff. Pour some in a bowl, dump some milk over it, slurp it down, call it a day. Easy. Well, yeah. But no. NO! Cereal is serious. Ritualistic, crunchy, trusty, tasty-as-shit serious stuff. This is cereal. Don't diss it. Eat it. Love it. Treasure it. And if you're desperate, read about it.