I wonder if any Boomer kid in the US ever grew up without breakfast cereal in the morning? Sure, some days we would be treated with Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal, or perhaps full-blown bacon and eggs, but by and large mornings were busy times for families. This was particularly true in the case of my own dual-income household. Dad would be getting ready for another day at his truck garage, and mom would likewise be preparing for her own vocation of teaching a first grade class at Wilson Elementary, on the other side of town from my own alma mater of Nichols.
Needless to say, cooking breakfast was a difficult venture. So most mornings, it was one of a bevy of cartoon characters who provided me with the essential sugar that a kid used to get going in the early hours.
These friendly faces included So-Hi (I’ll bet the clueless execs who named the stereotypical Chinese Rice Crinkles pitchman were the butt of many jokes among the younger staffmembers at Post over that moniker), Tony the Tiger, Capn’ Crunch, King Vitaman, The Kellog’s Corn Flakes rooster, the Blue Gnu, and the very weird Apple Jacks apple face.
I loved Rice Krinkles, but was also quite partial to Alpha-Bits, particularly in the postman/Lovable Truly era.
Alpha-Bits had a variety of mascots, including inanimate blocks, a big smiley-faced kid, and blowups of the cereal letters themselves. But it was the postman who caught my seven-year-old eye during a commercial break while watching Mighty Mouse one Saturday morning. I was struck with a craving for letters made of wheat, oats, and sugar. It was one of mom’s most regular purchases afterwards.
The postman was such a hit that he soon received a name, Lovable Truly, and his own spot on the Linus the Lion Hearted show.
Alpha-Bits cereal was perfect. You see, the perfect breakfast cereal not only tasted good in a bowlful of milk, but also was a delight to the senses when eaten right out of the box while planted in front of the one-eyed-monster after school.
But back to breakfast.
What would a kid do while seated at the kitchen table? He could read a comic book, of course, but more often the morning’s entertainment was provided by the back (and sides) of the cereal box itself.
There was something about the back of a cereal box that made it an object of fascination for a kid of the 60’s, even though he had read the words the previous day, and the day before that.Eventually, though, the words would become tedious, and it was time to switch to the sides. Thus did many a preteen learn of such terms as potassium hydrogen sulfite, calcium propionate, and my personal favorite, calcium disodium EDTA. I wasn’t sure what all of those chemicals did, but the cereal tasted great, so if they contributed to the experience, more power to ’em!
Of course, the average kid’s memory didn’t store the additives’ names for long. But I still recall them. After all, if it wasn’t for my above-average memory, I Remember JFK wouldn’t exist. 😉
Next, we’ll explore games on the back of the boxes, variety packs, and, of course, the toys that came inside.