Breakfast Cereals, Part 1

Cereal boxes from back in the day

We Boomer kids all had one thing in common: mornings were accompanied by breakfast.

Nowadays, I rise from bed at 3:30 AM and drive a half hour to my job as a geek (which I love, BTW) and begin drinking copious amounts of strong coffee while handling the third shift technical support calls which came in during the night.

Those out of the way, I might slip into the breakroom for a breakfast of lowfat pretzels or the like.

Yes, very strange, I admit. But strange breakfast food comes naturally to a kid who grew up eating a before-school concoction of sugar, milk, and a small amount of actual nutrients, to be consumed whilst reading the back of the cereal box.

The subject of breakfast food is a huge one, one which will take up three columns this week. This prelude will lay the foundation for the discussion, with actual examples of 1960’s-70’s morning kid fodder to be discussed in chapters two and three. And yes, I have previously covered cereal ads. But this discussion will be more about the finer points of life with the processed foodstuffs, along with examples of long-gone brands that you have probably forgotten about.

When we sprawled across our living room floors on Saturday mornings watching our favorite cartoons, cereal ads made up much of the advertising that was blasted our way. One of my favorites was this strange, unforgettable one featuring the unlikely combination of a barbershop quartet singing a Pidgin English jingle extolling the virtues of Puffa Puffa Rice:

Getting up in the morning was something that didn’t come naturally for most of us. What was the point? The bed was at its maximum comfort level at 7:00 am. Outside the bedroom awaited dad watching news on TV (yech!), school clothes laid out (eww!) and the prospect of waiting for use of the single bathroom (groan!).

But sitting on the kitchen table was salvation. A bowl full of Rice Crinkles (the rival pre-sweetened form of Rice Crispies, complete with a cartoon stereotypical Chinese pitchman on the front of the box by the VERY 60’s name of So-Hi) sat, loaded with an near-uncontrollable burst of energy to be delivered by its copious amounts of sugar dissolved in cold milk. Soon, I would be bolting out the door heading for school, my metabolism resembling that of a hummingbird. My second-grade teacher certainly had her hands full with twenty-nine other kids as wired as myself.

No wonder I start the day with strong coffee. I really miss that buzz.

Anyhow, stay tuned, as we explore the subject of long-gone breakfast cereals, as well as many that have withstood the test of time.

Such an important part of the Boomer kid’s daily routine deserves its own entire week, wouldn’t you agree?

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