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!”).
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:
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!
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 Pops; Sugar 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 Shreddies…Honey 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!