Pass The Cold Cereal–Please!

Those of us who put together the Food section each week always strive to report on the latest culinary trends so that you don’t miss out on a single one. When people north of the “Mason-Dixon” line decided grits and fried chicken were not only cool but worth 50 bucks a plate at trendy “Southern” restaurants, you heard it here first. Now we discover that the latest food fad for the young yuppie too busy and stressed out from climbing the corporate ladder to cook: a large bowl of cold cereal for supper.

In a recent story from the New York Times, one of the aforementioned yuppies, a communications consultant named Bonnie, said that cold cereal for supper is “ideal for those of us who are domestically disinterested. You don’t have to rely on any major appliance other than your refrigerator.”

Apparently, she’s not alone. Sales of cereal topped 7 billion boxes last year. Married couples with children shelled out an average of $75 last year on cereal while single people under 35 spent an average of $35.

Quaker Oats, one of the cereal giants, has even brought Quisp back from retirement. Surely you remember Quisp, the little pink space guy with a permanently attached beanie? The cereal was a masterpiece of food engineering. It contained just enough flour to hold the sugar together. One bowl was guaranteed to provide a full day’s nutrients if taken with a multi-vitamin and washed down with three shots of Geritol. Two bowls guaranteed enough of a sugar high to make you see colors. My friend Tubby McGriff ate three bowls once and set out to play on his trampoline. He’s still orbiting Pluto.

Another guy-on-the-go, a manufacturer’s rep named Darrin, said that “cereal and TV go hand-in-hand. Both of them are quick, light, and before you know it, it’s over.” Sounds like Darrin could use a dog, a hobby, maybe even a girlfriend — something to break this vicious cycle.

The story went on to report that comedian Jerry Sienfeld prefers to dine on Corn Chex and Alphabits. Here’s a personal message: “YO, JERRY! You make a zillion dollars a year — HIRE A COOK!”

The article went so far as to say that part of generation X-ers’ fascination with cereal comes from watching TV. Apparently, the cast of Friends uses Cap’n Crunch to help ease the angst of their TV lives. Picture this dialogue: ‘”The guy in the coffee shop yelled at me when I asked for a double latte decaf, and now my hair’s a wreck, just before my date with Jennifer Aniston.” “Dude, bummer! Have some cold cereal.” Civilization as we know it is declining rapidly.

I like cold cereal myself. I was raised on Frosted Flakes and still keep a box in the pantry. I also love to watch the commercials for those sugar-coated, chocolate-dipped kids’ cereals that say at the end, “Part of this complete breakfast.” Then they show the bowl of cereal surrounded by other foods that provide nutrients a growing child needs: mill, fresh fruit, toast, butter, jelly, bacon, eggs, a roasted wildebeast … you get the picture.

Growing up eating cold cereal taught me valuable lessons. My negotiating skills were developed in the supermarket aisles trying to persuade my mother that even though we had 12 boxes of cereal at home that the one we didn’t have was really the best one of them all (because it had a secret decoder ring in it) and I was sure to grow up to be an Olympic athlete if we could just get that one puulllleeezzze! Thanks Mom!

Other valuable lessons I learned from cereal included diplomacy (two kids, one prize in the box), spatial relationships and conflict avoidance. You may wonder how a simple box of cereal could teach advanced concepts such as these. Simple. Trying to figure which one of Mom’s mixing bowls would hold that big box of Cap’n Crunch while I dumped it out in search of the prize taught spatial relationships, and conflict avoidance came by doing it fast enough not to get caught. So the next time your spouse asks you if supper was good, just say, “Good? Honey, it was grmrreat!

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