I think most people closely associate cereal with breakfast. For some, eggs or bacon may be what they eat during the first meal of the day but cereal is the purpose-built food of breakfast. Cereal is in the bowl for this week’s column.
When I think of breakfast in the seventies, I think of the orange box of Wheaties and a big bowl. My dad used to eat Puffed Wheat in a mixing bowl and I believe he used cream instead of milk, however the work on a dairy farm used up all those calories. I later moved on to Raisin Bran but no matter the form it took, the medium in which I construct the breakfast of my memories consists of a forest of cereal boxes which populated our 1970’s breakfast table.
The promise of breakfast cereal is very similar to the promise of a new album release in that it is all about the cover art. Cover art on a new album release was a window into the contents just like a cereal box. In the case of Rice Krispies, it was the sound of magic. The snap, crackle and pop were a mystery to most little kids as there was no search engine to find out the noise came about as a result of the milk rehydrating the dried cereal. The Wheaties cereal box store front was the image of a favorite athlete. Rick Spielman is the General Manager of the Minnesota Vikings. His brother, Chris Spielman, was a professional football player who was once the only high school athlete to appear on the Wheaties box.
I never ate much oatmeal as a kid but made up for it as an adult. Oatmeal is like really healthy mortar mix which needs something added to it to actually claim taste; raisins, walnuts or brown sugar come to mind. It’s like feeling good about eating cookies for breakfast. Cream of Wheat is kind of a mystery to me but, it’s still manufactured, so someone must be eating it.
Finally, we have the multipack-the United Nations of cereal. It’s rare that I experience the sort of excitement I did when mom would bring home the cereal multipack. There were lots of ways to look at the multipack in that you wanted your favorite brand however there were always one or two boxes that contained some exotic model of cereal of which I’d never heard. I mean what kid wouldn’t want the experience of eating “Crazy Cow” cereal? It made its’ own chocolate milk! Plus, the experience made great water cooler talk during the next day’s milk break. I would even occasionally follow the eating instructions on the side of the box and carefully cut the box open then use the interior wax paper bag to waterproof the box prior to pouring milk on the contents. Typically, I just opened the top and poured them into a bowl but occasionally I played by the rules. The cereal multipack could have been a stand-alone column, but the world only needs so many cereal columns per year.
If you see a small fortress of cereal boxes at a table around one eating position, with the occupant reading the back of one of the cereal boxes-then you are seeing me. At least you are seeing me as I do, from a time when cereal was a great way to start the day.