By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
Last night for dinner I had two bowls of Froot Loops. Tom was on a business dinner with co-workers. The kids were in bed for the night. So I went downstairs and peeked into the cabinet where I keep my secret stash of sugar cereals. I opened a brand new box of Froot Loops, tore open the plastic bag and got a strong whiff of fruity flavor. The colorful rings “plink, plink, plinked” into the bowl, and I doused them generously with milk.
Then I curled up on the sofa with a blanket and my cereal bowl and watched a favorite chick flick I’ve already seen too many times. Ah, heaven!
I should be ashamed, I know. I buy Froot Loops pretending they’re for the kids and then take them home and hide them so the kids won’t see their mother’s bad example. Empty, sugary calories – it’s disgraceful. But it’s so gooooood.
I say all this realizing that only my fellow cereal addicts will understand my obsession. Most people who want to indulge pick something with broader appeal, like ice cream, cookies or chips. But for me and other cereal enthusiasts (including Jerry Seinfeld), it’s the cereal that whispers our name and beckons us into the kitchen.
Part of the lure for me is the memories attached to cereal. It’s the ultimate comfort food. It’s the thing I’ve been eating since before I can remember. Those old familiar boxes cluttered my mother’s kitchen countertops and were packed in my bag for summer visits to Grandma’s house. And cereal was the most accessible of after-school snacks. No cooking required – just a bowl, a box and a carton of milk and I was all set.
My big brother, who was a loyal fan of Captain Crunch, used to dump nearly half a box of it into my mother’s largest mixing bowl, pour in the milk and then use the biggest spoon in the kitchen to eat it while watching Scooby Doo reruns after school. To this day, Captain Crunch always makes me think of him.
When I went to college and walked into the university’s cafeteria for the first time, I fell in love with the big buffet of cereal machines. When I got my first apartment, I rarely had real food in the kitchen but the pantry was always well-stocked with cereal favorites.
Speaking of favorites, true cereal junkies have certain rules we live by. Here are a few of mine:
- Raisin Bran is better when you let it soak to the semi-soggy state.
- The pink milk leftover after a bowl of Apple Jacks is the best part of the treat.
- Each spoonful of Captain Crunch needs to be dunked under the milk at least once or twice because otherwise it will scratch the roof of your mouth.
- Frosted Flakes must be eaten quickly because they practically disintegrate if they get soggy.
- Honey Nut Cheerios are best with a sliced banana that is about a day away from being too ripe.
(You can click “comment” below to list your own cereal rules. We’ll call it “research”.)
I realize I’m too old for all these kid cereals. I should know better. I should be eating something sensible like Total or Cornflakes. But everybody needs at least one vice and this one is mine. Right now, I’m in a Froot Loops phase, having just transitioned out of several months’ worth of Golden Grahams. Before that, it was Frosted Flakes with sliced strawberries. Yum.
All this cereal talk has stirred up some cravings, so I will wrap this up and go join Toucan Sam in the kitchen for a few artificial flavors. Enjoy your web surfing and your cereal. Pass the milk.