Saturday Morning Smackdown

honeycombbowl.jpgMy mother prepared breakfast every day of the week – she was not about to send us off to school on an empty stomach – yet the only day I really remember eating breakfast was on Saturday. Not because she cooked an elaborate spread, but because we were left to fend for ourselves. It was the one morning my parents slept in – probably only to about 8 or 9 – and it was a thrill to be without parental supervision in the dining room. My siblings and I weren’t what you’d call “skilled” in the culinary arts, but we were quite capable of pouring a bowl cereal…and that’s where the trouble started.

These were the days before whole grains, when cereal was “crack” for kids, so filled with sugar one bowl probably exceeded your daily nutritional requirements for carbohydrates. There was no fiber to be found and we LOVED it. While in grammar school, we were allowed to “request” our favorite brand, but my mother had a strict food budget, so we never knew what we were actually going to find in the cupboard. If your choice was on sale, then it was your lucky week and the world was your oyster.

crunchberries.jpgI was usually the first one to make my way to the kitchen. As they say, “you snooze, you lose.” I never had any trouble beating either of my sisters, Sue or Diane, because both loved to sleep and really could have cared less about what was for breakfast. My brother David was my main competition. He was the oldest, outnumbered and liked to feel that he sometimes had control over the three little females he was forced to live with.

The joy of getting there before them was being the one to choose which new box got opened and subsequently receive the toy buried inside. We were not allowed to savagely dig for it, but had to wait until everyone poured their bowl and the toy made its’ plastic-covered appearance. The item was always broken or lost within hours (and I can't remember a single toy), but the magic was in getting something for free…and being the only one to have it.

fruitloops.jpgMy brother, mother and I form the competitive half of our family. Our need to win is rarely attractive and sometimes a bit scary, which is why we were, and still are, not allowed to play on the same team. It often made breakfast a battleground, however, we knew to keep the noise down since an early appearance by a grumpy parent was sure to ruin our day. We fought every week, but the spats would only last until our spoons dove into the bowl and were completely forgotten by the first commercial break of the Super Friends.

My mother indulged our “jones” for the sweet stuff until we reached our teen years when the simple joys of Honeycomb (my fav), Crunchberries (which turned the milk pink), Fruit Loops (loved all the colors), Corn Pops, Sugar Snaps, Apple Jacks and Lucky Charms were replaced with Honeynut Cheerios, Kix, Life, Golden Grahams and Frosted Flakes, which appeared somewhat healthier, but were probably just as sugar-filled as our old favorites. 

mikey1.jpg Healthy does not equal fun. At least to me. Life cereal was hard enough to enjoy – too plain and quickly soggy for my tastes – without having to think about poor Mikey, the star of their ad campaign, who was rumored in the 80s to have died young from a cocktail of Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola. An untrue urban legend that persisted for years and made eating that cereal, with his face on the box, even more difficult to swallow. 

There’s no doubt that the cereals we grew to love were nothing but nutritional suicide, but I still remember the taste and texture of every single one.  My memory is apparently all that’s left, since Kelloggs and Post have altered their “classic” formulas to become current with our healthier times and stay in business. Somehow I don’t think kids today will be waxing poetic about these whole grain versions once they reach adulthood. If they even bother to think of them at all. So much for the sweet pleasures of youth.


Lisa Dinsmore is a writer and web programmer. She has her own wine blog called Daily Wine Dispatch. She lives with her husband Dave in Los Angeles.