A couple weeks ago I read this great post about not wanting to feel like a grown-up despite pressure to do so. I started thinking about all the childish things I want to still hold on to. So here is a post about cereal.
Is there a moment you’re supposed to stop liking sugary cereal? I have this impression that adults are supposed to eat plain Cheerios, enjoy
cardboard-tasting Kashi, and eschew all cereal boxes with cartoon characters on the box and colorful pieces inside. As an adult you’re supposed to be healthier and develop a taste for classier fare. Even though I’ve grown to enjoy broccoli and Brussel sprouts, I still have a love of “kiddy” cereals.
Recently my dad brought Cap’n Crunch Berry cereal from the grocery store. I got so excited. I hadn’t had Captain Crunch in years! My mom wondered why my siblings and I were so enthusiastic. It’s because we loved it so much years ago and we still love it now. Must I cease to love a favorite cereal because I have lived a certain number of years on the earth?
Why I like sugary cereal:
- It improves the taste of milk. I’ve written about how dairy doesn’t agree well with me (here). I don’t like how milk tastes plain. But it becomes delicious when Cocoa Pebbles impart it with chocolatey flavor.
- I have a really strong sweet tooth. My sugary obsession began early. My first word after mom and dad was “cookie.” I was motivated to enter the world of language by baked goods.
- Plain Cheerios and Kix remind me of baby snacks. There’s a picture from when I was a toddler helping my baby sister eat Kix from her high chair. They taste fine when eaten plain, like granola, but not with milk for breakfast.
- Sugary cereal was made available. Sugary cereal became the norm. At home, at school, at grandparents’ house. I remember once there were plain Corn Flakes at my grandma’s house and she spooned in sugar to sweeten the cereal. It was normal. You want to eat something tasty.
- It’s super fun. Your white milk turns chocolately, there are colorful pieces, and word searches on the back of the box. Those things don’t interest me as much as taste does now, but they were a great draw. The cartoon commercials were very persuasive.
But my mom prefers the cereal that is much less sweet. At the grocery store we usually come to compromise and go for a box of plain/healthy cereal and a box of sweet cereal. The “healthier” cereal I usually try to go for is Life or Chex. They’re tasty enough to flavor milk but not so sugary. I also like Heartland granola. It’s like tasty oatmeal when soggy, trail mix when crunchy.
Some mornings growing up we’d have hot breakfast instead of cereal. My siblings and I would come downstairs to homemade banana muffins, pancakes with fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, or hot grits cooling on the window sill. I remember those times as lovely and cozy. It was nice to learn how to make these things myself when I got big enough.
I also have strong memories of moments with cold cereal. Thunderstorms remind of Fruity Pebbles because of a gray stormy afternoon without power and a tall box of the multicolored cereal. I discovered I needed glasses when while I was eating a bowl of cereal and reading a picture book of Disney’s Peter Pan. The pictures and words blurred and I went to tell my mom. And there was the adventure when I was small having to climb on to the kitchen counter to reach the cereal box.
Sweet cereal connects me to childhood and some things you don’t grow out of. I still eat cookies with gusto and I feel excited about a box of Cap’n Crunch.
Note: I hate that it’s spelled Cap’n Crunch! I kept it spelled that way for accuracy but I pronounce it Captain Crunch. Ah, much better.