They’re G-r-r-r-eat! Cereals of My Youth Remembered…

It seems that this week’s blog theme has been food…might as well continue the trend!

I was born in 1961, and grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on our black and white TV.  We didn’t have cable either…on a good day, our “rabbit ears” would bring in 4 channels (yes, children, I said FOUR channels)!  We looked forward to the commercials as much as the cartoons…they would give us something to bug our parents to buy for us on the next shopping trip!  Sure, there were commercials for toys, but the cereal companies had the Saturday morning hours pretty well locked up…what were little Johnny and little Susie eating while they were watching cartoons?  Cereal, of course.

My parents had a pretty strict budget, which usually didn’t include the “good cereals” as my brother and I longingly referred to them (the more sugar and artificial colour they contained, the more we wanted them!).  Mom and Dad’s version of “good cereals” were Corn Flakes (yawn), Cheerios (boring), Raisin Bran (they got really soggy, really fast!), and Shredded Wheat (who decided that cereal with the texture of a steel wool pad was a good idea?…”Just put a little milk on it…the old farts won’t even notice!”). 

You can put all the strawberries on it that you want...it won't make the texture any better! (photo from art.com)

 

Other entries were Rice Krispies (never Cocoa Krispies!), Puffed ______ (fill in the blank with Rice or Wheat), Life (which was okay…it tasted all right and we liked the “Mikey” commercials!), and Shreddies (“Good, good whole wheat Shreddies” – sure…if you don’t forget about them while you’re busy watching the Road Runner!).  Did I also mention that we didn’t actually put real milk on our cereal?  We used powdered milk, the most vile of concoctions ever foisted upon poor people!

The cereals Mom and Dad bought never had anything good “Free Inside”…if you were lucky, there would be some pencil game on the outside of the package you could do if you managed to grab the box before it went into the trash.  Once in a while, they’d cave and get cereal with a toy inside (they’d have to buy two boxes, so we’d each get one)…here’s a picture of my brother, Jeff, with a balloon boat:

Jeff and his cereal balloon boat...lots more fun than the peas he was supposed to be finishing...

 

The other kind of cereal my parents almost never bought were the “little boxes”…those individual serving sizes of ten different kinds packaged together in a cardboard tray.  I always thought it was neat that you didn’t even need to pour them into a bowl…you could use the box as the bowl if you opened it right!  I think Mom and Dad were environmentally-aware even before it was trendy, much to my brother’s and my chagrin!  Lucky for us, our grandparents were not!  When we went to Grandma T.’s house, my Grandad always stocked the cupboard with all the cereals they flogged in the commercials (big and little boxes)!  We were in heaven!

These are cereal snack packs from the late 80's (photo by planet-Q on flickr.com)

Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Krispies, and Count Chocula would always turn the milk into chocolate milk, and Franken Berry turned the milk pink (Grandma also had strawberry Quik, which we used to make strawberry milk…yum!).  Cap’n Crunch was another favourite, especially the Peanut Butter Crunch…crunchy goodness!  We always picked the little marshmallow shapes out of the Lucky Charms, and ate them first!  In a pinch, we’d eat Alpha Bits, or Honeycomb, but their colour wasn’t that appealing to us!  I loved anything with the word “sugar” in the title…Sugar Pops, Sugar Crisp or Sugar Smacks would always disappear as fast as I could eat them!  Just try finding these now: Sugar Pops has been politically corrected to Corn PopsSugar Crisp is now Golden Crisp (I wonder if the Sugar Bear got to keep his name?); and Sugar Smacks is simply Smacks, which smacks of stupidity if you ask me!

Occasionally, they would advertise cereal in time slots other than Saturday mornings…I’d forgotten about Corn Flakes’ sponsorship of one of our favourite sitcoms, The Beverly Hillbillies…Click here to see the commercial : http://www.retrojunk.com/details_commercial/3344/           

Excuse me…I feel the urge for some ShreddiesHoney Shreddies, of course…they didn’t have those when I was growing up!  I wonder why they didn’t call them Sugar Shreddies…it has a nice ring to it!

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48 Comments

Filed under memories, rants, satire

48 responses to “They’re G-r-r-r-eat! Cereals of My Youth Remembered…

  1. Oh my gosh! I loved Shredded Wheat when I was growing up…but only because I found the best way to eat those suckers were to slap a pat of butter on it and douse it in milk, Heat in the microwave until the butter is melted, and add jam or brown sugar. The butter and heat usually made it a lot easier to stomach the bland wheat sticks.

    I must say, we lived close to a factory that made Shredded Wheat (or Shreddies or something)…and man…I gotta say. It always smelled amazing around there…

    • Oh my, Suzanne…it never would have occurred to me to put butter on Shredded Wheat! And, I didn’t have a microwave until 1987! Brown sugar would have been good though. I actually like the Mini Wheats they have now… Wendy

  2. The Hipster

    I remember buying those individual boxes of cereal as a rebellion/expression of adulthood on my first trip to the grocery store when I went to college. My parents wouldn’t buy them, either. 🙂

  3. Wendy, you crack me up. Oh, the sweet, delicious goodness of Peanut Butter Crunch.

    When you think about it, cereal companies really do have a solid understanding of their target audience. My boys are a lot like you and your brother were: stuck in the quagmire of not-good-cereals. But on those rare occasions I tell them they can choose their own “breakfast eats,” they always go for the mini-boxes. Always.

  4. P.S. – Have you tried Frosted Mini-Wheats? Delish!

  5. Better on shredded wheat…who would have thought! And I didn’t have a microwave until 2001!!!

  6. We only ever had icky cereal growing up…
    when I was set loose upon my first year of college, I wore out my tongue and the roof of my mouth on Cap’n Crunch. SERIOUSLY.
    I ate a TON of it…
    i was like a woman possessed…
    now? I buy icky cereal for the kids (I don’t do much dairy so don’t eat cereal very often…)
    blessings
    jane

  7. Great post! Cereal must be the theme of the week. I just posted yesterday about a cereal I’ve been eating for the last 7 years that is now defunct. But my favorite cereal as a kid was a toss up between Tony the Tiger’s Frosted Flakes and Alpha Bits. As far as I’m concerned, they were both GRRRRREAT!

    • I like both of those now, Monica! I use crushed Sugar Frosted Flakes as a coating for my Oven-Fried Chicken…yummy! Thanks for stopping by…will check out your cereal post! Wendy

  8. Don’t feel bad, Wedy. We never had fun cereal at my house (or any other kind of fun food). I could tell people my mom believed in serving only natural foods, but the truth is the other stuff was just too expensive.

    • I remember your post about things you weren’t allowed to eat, Rene…glad I wasn’t the only kid doing without! We’re maybe a little healthier for it now… Hugs, Wendy

  9. Sometimes I think someone could do an anthropological study on cereal to reveal the ethos of the times.

    I think we grew up in similar households. We had 3 of the following on hand: Corn Flakes, Shreddies, Rice Krispies, and Cheerios. Except when we went camping every summer. Then we got little boxes of sugary goodness.

    And now, I’m the same type of cereal parent as my parents were.

    Proof again that history repeats itself.

    • That’s funny, Leanne…you’re the second mom who admitted to not letting her kids have the “good stuff.” We’ve got both kinds at our house, because my dad still lives with me, and eats cereal every morning for breakfast! At least we have real milk to put on it now (I have to drink Lacteeze myself…that’s expensive stuff!). Thanks for reading! Wendy

  10. Nothing wrong with a theme of food for the week…:D I was raised on plain cheerios. I didn’t like the honey kind. I’m very much the bland and plain food eater, ha ha.

  11. My mom made breakfast every single morning. Eggs, french toast, pancakes, cinnamon toast, bacon or sausage and OJ. I absolutely longed for Lucky Charms, I was in love with snap, crackle and pop, and oh the joys of froot loops. On occasion she could be talked into cereal for “snack food” but never breakfast-the most important meal of the day. And now that I am grown up and the cereal aisle is my choice–I buy little boxes of fun cereal for Cole to snack on. I make breakfast every morning to eat on the long trip to school….the same kind of breakfast my mom made–breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the only meal Cole can count on from his wantanot cook mother.

    Fun post! Cereal is a hot topic.

    • Your house sounds like ours, Katybeth! My dad made breakfast every morning: scrambled eggs and toast, oatmeal, or rice and raisins. We ate cereal for a bedtime snack.

      Glad you take the time to make Cole breakfast…you guys have a long commute!

      Hugs,
      Wendy

  12. Love the Cap’n.

    I used to see my grandfather eat shredded wheat and thought it was cool because he’d have to cut it with his spoon. I eventually told him i wanted one once, he put it in my bowl. God it was awful.

  13. I always wanted those little boxes!

  14. You also made me remember how the TV would go off, compacting into a bright little star–and how, if you stayed up late enough, it would run out of programs, play the Star-Spangled Banner, and go off. I kind of miss that.

  15. Oh I remember the little boxes… although there would always be ONE you didn’t want! My favourite childhood cereal was Ready Brek, kind of like a mushy, sweeter version of oatmeal – I think it was designed for kids, and I loved it 🙂 Especially when they came out with a chocolate version! I always tended to pile sugar on top of cereal too. My grandma taught me well 🙂

  16. I forgot about Sugar Smacks and Alpha Bits–two old favorites probably banned by the sugar police!

    • Actually, Tom, you can still get Alpha Bits…they tried to get rid of them in 2006, but started producing them again a couple of years later. I bought “Smacks” a few months ago, but I suspect they were on their way out, since I found them in a markdown cart at the grocery. Wendy

  17. I was a big Lucky Charms fan! I remember shoving a marshmallow into my talking doll’s mouth. It dried up like concrete and we could could never get it out! Ahhhh fond memories! Thanks Wendy!

    • I used to do things like that too, Paula…what made us think that “non-eating” dolls would eat just because we put something in their mouths? Glad to bring back good memories for you! Wendy

      • I dunno why I wasted a good sugary morsel on a doll! I am a mean old mom when it comes to sugar cereal for breakfast. If they want it, they can consider it dessert and the milk is a bonus. Hee hee.

  18. I’m not a cereal person at all, not surprising coz the concept of cereal as Breakfast staple is fairly recent in India. We always have a cooked breakfast – something different everyday. Perhaps I can do a post on different Indian breakfasts…if I ever get the time to write again!

    But my absolute favorite breakfast is eggs – in any form (except poached) with crisp toast slathered with butter…heaven!! Eggs are my favorite food on the planet 😀

    Hugs, H.

  19. Your post reminds me of the cereals we used to get at boarding school, oh my goodness they were disgusting! Round sticky balls that kind of stuck to every part of your mouth until they eventually dissolved or you peeled them off your cheeks (whichever came first). And tasteless tasteless porridge – double yuck!
    But I also longed for the little boxes of cereal – my parents would never buy them either!
    Sunshine xx

  20. Ah, kids’ cereals of old. They wouldn’t keep lab mice alive but we loved them anyway!

  21. The whole time I was reading this I thought: Seinfeld and Wendy would make great friends! 🙂

    • I LOVE “Seinfeld”! I was really disappointed when they cancelled “New Adventures of Old Christine” last season…it was hilarious too! Glad you stopped by, Lin! Hugs, Wendy

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