[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’d like to personally welcome humorist John Papageorgiou to the clubhouse as our latest contributor. John comes to us from his own slice of internet insanity, Papa’s Basement, where he spouts gobs of edgy, insightful funny all over iTunes in addition reviewing movies he hasn’t seen – so you won’t have to.]
As a kid, there was no greater treat than a junk food breakfast cereal. You could have cut a hole in an ice cream cake, dropped a chocolate pie in the middle of it and slathered the combined confection with enough whipped cream to smother a forest fire and I would have shoved it off my plate harder than Ike shoved Tina to clear a space for a bowl of Frosted Flakes.
There was something insidiously beautiful about sugary cereals. Less-attentive parents could be duped into thinking they were buying a nutritious item for their child, as if anything associated with breakfast was automatically healthy. Even now, as adults, a breakfast of juice and a doughnut or similar fair around the conference table isn’t seen as the diabetes rocket fuel it is. Yet eat that exact meal later in the day and your co-workers will feel the need to stage an intervention as if they caught you sucking down pats of butter like jello shots. A breakfast of Cinnamon Toast Crunch was the childhood equivalent of Irishing your coffee: A secret something extra that started your day off right.
Years have passed since my childhood (as they have for most adults) and while I still eat cereal as a daily breakfast ritual, my choice in them is now based on its ability to give me a firm, symmetrical, rabbit-like bowel movement, not a sugar content so high that it causes me to urinate rock candy. And yet, every time I stroll down the cereal aisle, the haunted eyes of Cap’n Crunch stare back at me with the gaze of a an old pound hound facing euthanasia.
Well, no more. In the interest of science (and maintaining my buxom figure), I have decided that I will purchase and devour four of the breakfast cereals that helped give me a strain of juvenile diabetes not seen outside of Oompa Loompa populations: Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Flakes. The cereals will be judged on their bouquet, ability to resist lactose infiltration (stay crisp in milk) and presentation (aka are they as brightly colored as the vomit of a socialite who lives on nothing but wine coolers and fruit snacks). Here goes.
We begin my return to the sucrose-saturated bosom of junk food breakfast cereals with Fruity Pebbles, which was openly acknowledged by my mom, a woman whose idea of nutrition was making me finish my chicken nuggets before I could have seconds on dessert, as the unhealthiest food known to man. A cereal somehow associated with The Flintstones, it automatically had a leg up on the competition due to its cartoon affiliation. I mean, even as a kid, I understood that Fred and Barney had pulled some serious trim and that this made them individuals to emulate. Since I couldn’t buy a woolly mammoth shower, taking home a box of Fruity Pebbles was the next best thing.
For those of you unfamiliar with Fruity Pebbles, imagine Fruit Loops smashed into flat crisps half the size of Corn Flakes. Much like cocaine freebased into crack rocks, the concentrated form of the substance was far more potent and addictive, and the relatively small size of the cereal allowed it to double as an ice cream topping, in case whole milk wasn’t rich enough a means of conveyance.
I opened the bright red box, which depicted Fred and Barney frolicking with the cereal during a rare break from their incessant lovemaking. A quick whiff of the product presented a light, playful aroma, with notes of cherry and yellow dye No. 5. It seemed to proclaim, “The soiree contained within this box rivals the sophistication depicted in a Colt 45 commercial. Are you smooth enough to enter?” I was unsure of the answer but, for the article, I stepped up to the plate.
Unfortunately, as I was quick to remember, Fruity Pebbles was built for show, not performance. No sooner had the milk cascaded over the flakes that the imagery of small, multicolored surf boards playfully navigating those white waves gave way to the sense that I was drowning my cereal. Never have I seen a piece of cereal so unable to maintain its crispness. The French were capable of more resistance. This turned eating Fruity Pebbles into a frustrating race to inhale the bowl before its contents transmogrified into an Oliver Twistian gruel.
The flake proved equally maladroit at retaining its color, turning the milk a horrific shade of ketchup-meets-mayonaise. While a bunch of multi-colored entities becoming one unified shade might be a great concept for a Democratic candidate’s platform or a Prince album, it makes for an incredibly unsatisfying eating experience. I crossed my fingers that the rest of my consumable competitors weren’t doomed to dispel my fond memories of them in the same grand manner.