From the time I was a little kid, breakfast cereal was a major staple of my daily nutritional routine. I'm not just talking breakfast, either, I'd have Cap'n Crunch for an after-school snack, Lucky Charms for dinner, whatever was available, and as long as Mom kept the fridge stocked with milk, it was all good.
Well, maybe not ALL good. Because, let's face it, some cereals are flat-out terrible.
So let's take a look at the best and the worst, shall we? Grab a spoon, 'cause here we go!
The Cap'n is the winner, hands down. Sweet, crunchy, and delicious, there has simply never been a better cereal in the entire history of Kellogg's. Or General Mills, whoever the hell makes it. Anyway, I know some of you will complain about the texture of Cap'n Crunch, and I will admit that I've suffered some early morning, roof-of-the-mouth abrasions from time to time, but in the end it's worth it. Besides, I've learned that if you let the cereal sit for a few minutes, not to the point of sogginess, mind you, but just a little while . . . it takes the raspy edge off. I should also mention that I'm only talking about the original Cap'n Crunch cereal here, not the version with Crunch Berries (though they're okay), and I'm certainly not going to include the mutant Peanut Butter Crunch. That stuff is just disgusting.
2. Lucky Charms
While we're on the subject of Lucky Charms marshmallows, though, I do have a complaint. They've taken the whole thing way too far. When I was a kid, we had yellow moons, orange stars, pink hearts, and green clovers. That was it. Then the blue diamonds came along, and they were fine, nothing worth getting in a snit over. But now? Lucky the Leprechaun has just gone friggin' berzerk! Rainbows, purple horseshoes, pots of gold, red balloons . . . enough is enough already!
But they're still yummy.
3. Frosted Flakes
As Tony says, "They're GRRRRRR-EAT!" As long as you don't let them get too soggy, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes definitely make the top five. They're not fancy, but they get the job done. I'm generally not big on adding fruit to a cereal, the thought being if a bowl of cereal can't stand on its own, it's not worth the trouble. However, I'll make an exception when it comes to Frosted Flakes and sliced bananas. Simply divine.
Frosted Flakes are also quite versatile. The next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a quart of vanilla ice cream and a box of Frosted Flakes. When you get home, dish out a heaping bowl of the ice cream and smother it with the cereal, and you'll have a cold, creamy, crunchy dessert fit for a king. Or a tiger, even.
4. Super Sugar Crisp
I know, I know, you're thinking, "What's the difference between Super Sugar Crisp and Sugar Smacks? Aren't they exactly the same?"
Sure, they're both puffed rice covered with some sort of sweet glaze and sugar, and they look kind of like miniature sea shells, but there's one huge difference. The mascot. The Sugar Smacks representative is a weird frog that says, "Dig 'em," a phrase that was barely cool in the 70's and is woefully out-dated now. On the other hand, Super Sugar Crisp's spokesman is the ultra-hip Sugar Bear, who has been preaching the virtues of his cereal for decades without losing any of his cultural relevance.
Perhaps I'm over-stating it just a touch.
But it's great cereral, no question about it. And I'll admit it, the stuff that Dig 'Em the frog sells isn't bad either.
"A is for apple, J is for jacks, cinnamon, toasty Apple Jacks! You need a good breakfast, that's a fact, start it off with Apple Jacks. Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks! Vitamins and minerals, that's what it packs . . . "
Okay, I may have gotten carried away.
Basically, you can never go wrong by making something out of apples and cinnamon. Strudel, pie, ice cream, you name it, if it's apple-cinnamon, it's delicious.
Apple Jacks are also the best of the "loop-type" cereals. Froot Loops, Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Crap, none of them are fit to carry Apple Jacks's milk pitcher.
I'm not surprised, actually. I believe Quangaroos were only available in certain parts of the country and for a limited time. They were a "spin-off" cereal from the more popular (but still relatively obscure) Quisp and Quake. Remember those guys? Quisp was the weird-looking spaceman dude with a propeller on his head, and Quake was first a miner, but then somehow transformed into a cowboy-like character from the Australian outback. I swear, I'm not making this up. And that's where Quangaroo comes in. He was Quake's buddy, or pet, or something.
Anyway, Quangaroos cereal consisted of bright orange balls. kind of like radioactive Cocoa Puffs, if you can imagine that. They tasted weird, and had a very disturbing side effect.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTENT MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME READERS
I was about ten years old. One Saturday morning I went to make myself breakfast and was disappointed to discover that my brother Eric had eaten the last of the chocolate frosted Pop Tarts. Not wanting to go hungry, I rummaged through the kitchen cabinets and all I could find was a brand new box of Quangaroos. I ate about four bowls of the stuff, weird taste be damned. Flash forward about three hours, and I'm sitting on the toilet. I do my business, and when I look into the bowl (toilet, not cereal) I discover that I've just pinched out a giant carrot. I kid you not, it was that orange.
Quangaroos. Not for those with weak stomachs.
Grape Nuts are the most inaccurately-named product ever invented. They aren't grape-flavored, and there's not a single nut in the entire box. But I think I understand why the powers-that-be at Post decided to go with it anyway. It's because no one would buy a cereal called Oaty-Tasting Bits O' Gravel.
Seriously, while Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles aren't made from real pebbles, I think that Grape Nuts actually are. Unless you let them sit in the milk for two days, you're liable to break a tooth on the first spoonful. I don't even want to think what this stuff does to the digestive tract.
No grapes. No nuts. No thanks.
3. Reese's Puffs
Here we have two pictures:
One of these pictures is Reese's Puffs, the other is dry dog food. Can you tell which is which? Probably not, unless you tasted them. At which point you'd find you had one bowl of disgusting-tasting gristle not fit for human consumption, and another bowl that contained dog food.
I'm not a fan of peanut butter cereal in general. Don't get me wrong, peanut butter is great for many, many things. Sandwiches. Toast. Apple slices. Hell, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are among my all-time favorite candies.
But cereal? Bleh.
4. Special K
Somewhere along the line, a well-meaning Kellogg's employee looked at a box of Wheaties and saw a picture of a famous gold medal-winning Olympian. Maybe it was Michael Phelps, Mary Lou Retton, or perhaps even Bruce Jenner. Doesn't matter. Seeing an opportunity, the Kellogg's guy probably thought, "Hey, what would happen if the Special Olympics were sponsored by a different breakfast cereal?"
Enter Special K.
Before we spin completely off the rails here, I'm just going to say that Special K cereal is about as bland a food item as you could possibly come up with. My grandmother used to keep her kitchen well-stocked with the stuff (along with Product 19, which is no better), so whenever my brothers and I spent the night, we were treated to a breakfast of Special K and half a grapefruit.
Good thing we liked grapefruit.
Now go donate fifty bucks to the Special Olympics. Ease my guilt a little.
5. Cocoa Puffs
Honestly, I could have chosen a lot of cereals for this spot. Cocoa Pebbles, Count Chocula, Cocoa Krispies. Basically, chocolate cereal sucks. Of course you're all thinking, "But Chris! When you finish eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs, you've got a bowl of chocolate milk!"
To which I say, big friggin' deal. I'd rather have a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and a tall glass of Nestle's Quik. The best of both worlds.
With so many crappy chocolate cereals to choose from, why, you might ask, did I single out Cocoa Puffs?
Here's the reason.
It's because of that God-awful, annoying, teeth-gnashingly obnoxious bird they have in the commercials. "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!"
I'd love for someone to snap, crackle, and pop that bastard's spinal column.