Now that I’m in my 30’s, I have to start watching what I eat because I need to be concerned with things like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, not to mention my fat gut. There was a time though when I would get up at 6:00 every Saturday and watch cartoons while eating a box of sugar that had been cleverly disguised as breakfast cereal. By the time that Shirt Tales ended and The Smurfs began, I was close to entering diabetic shock.
I should probably note that my mother didn’t normally allow sugar cereals in our house. She’d occasionally let us get Trix (it’s fruit… flavored) or Lucky Charms (who couldn’t use more luck in the morning?) and I always pushed for Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch but if we wanted something like Cookie Crisp or Super Sugar Crisp, drastic measures had to be taken.
One night at the grocery store, my little brother decided to sit down in the middle of the cereal aisle and opened a box of Alpha Bits which he then started eating. My mom decided that since he had opened the box, she would have to buy this evil sugar cereal. This one act established a very bad precedent. Soon every time we were at the grocery store, my brother and I would conspire as to what new sugar cereal we wanted and then he would open a box and start eating. It was a very effective method of getting good, i.e. non-Crispix, cereal. I don’t remember why we stopped but it probably involved a wooden spoon making contact with our butts one too many times.
I’ve always been fascinated at how cereal is marketed to kids. In the 80’s, we had characters such as Sugar Bear and Toucan Sam telling us that sugar coated sugar was part of a healthy breakfast. Of course they didn’t say that we also needed to eat a grapefruit, toast, orange juice, pancakes, and bacon with our cereal but they did show us pictures. Regardless though, the marketing worked. In fact, it still works! When I see a Cookie Crisp commercial from 1984, I want to eat cookies for breakfast. Granted, Cookie Crisp is a poor substitute for real cookies but when eaten with grapefruit, toast, orange juice, etc., it’s part of a balanced breakfast.
Now we are faced with a politically correct world where kids have to eat healthy food for breakfast and not the alleged tooth-rotting sugar cereals of years gone by. The same establishment that has fought so hard to ban soda in schools has succeed in forcing cereal manufacturers to alter their marketing. Super Sugar Crisp is now Golden Crisp, Sugar Pops are Corn Pops, and Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes now advertise that they contain 1/3 less sugar. They’ve also silenced some of the greatest mascots every. Remember Fruit Brute? He hasn’t been seen with any regularity since 1983! My guess is he’s in some dark basement chained to a wall jonesing for a bowl of cereal.
When I started writing this post, I had no idea where it was going to take me. All that I knew was that I wanted to talk about how I like cereal so I guess now would be a good time to list my favorite sugar cereals of all time. Please share your favorites in the comments section.
- Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs
- Frosted Flakes
- Honey Smacks, aka Sugar Smacks
- Lucky Charms