Cereal Killer

Your grandparents will often tell you stories to remind you how hard things were when they were little children. Walking five miles to school up hill both ways is the common joke they like to tell, to remind all, that the generations before always had it harder.  We all have photographic memory when it comes to early trauma we experienced that tended to shape our very noticeable lack of personality.

I come from a family of six children, which forced all of us to become very fast eaters. The choice was clear at an early age, eat fast or not at all.  A trip to grocery store with a budget conscious mother was never that fun. In the early nineteen seventies my mother had a very strict routine while hauling numerous children to the weekly shopping trip to the Dominion Store. It wasn’t mainly because of the meat, we went to this store, it was mainly because it was closest grocery store to our house. The children would be dragged up and down aisles being denied any request for food that would be considered luxurious, like cookies.

At the end of each trip children loitered around a mechanical rocking horse that required nickels to activate. We got great pleasure sitting on this lifeless horse, as mother paid her grocery bill with her cheque book. This was her preemptive strategy to ensure we never saw loose change that might lead to a potential pony ride.

One day going down the cereal aisle, mom discovered a something called puffed rice. It came in a bag the size of Halifax, and seemed the perfect solution for six hungry children at breakfast. I believe this idea of filling a bag that demanded two strong children to carry, was the origins of a store we now call Costco.

The discovery of puffed rice, was only part one of a two part breakfast conspiracy. At a family meeting with a financial planner, it appeared there were just too many children living in the house. The financial planner demonstrated superior analytical skills as he accumulated data and ultimately made two recommendations. Recommendation one was “The Hansel and Gretel Proposal.”  Take two of the kids, it didn’t matter which ones, and walk them out deep into the woods and try to lose them. This would remove unnecessary strain on the family grocery budget.

Recommendation two was “The Powdered Milk Solution” Remove milk from the grocery list and replace this unnecessary item with something called powdered milk. This cost saving on annual basis was projected to dramatically alter the future of our family’s wealth. The financial planner even suggested one child would experience one nickel mechanical horse ride every six years, if the parents stayed committed to the plan.

My parents toiled for weeks debating over the right thing to do. Ultimately my parents supported recommendation two, as our neighbourhood was simply too far away from any forest with the kind of depth needed for the more attractive option one.

Powdered milk was the rage for about seven months in the 1970s. The recipe was pretty simple. You took a cup of yellowy powder in a bowl. You added water and stirred until it looked drinkable. Here was the problem. No matter how hard you stirred this concoction, you could never get rid of the lumps of powder. It did happen once in Oklahoma, when a tornado touched down in the kitchen of a small bungalow. The tail of this twister hit that bowl of the mixture at the perfect angle and for the one and only time the powdered milk was lump free. Unfortunately the family was huddled in their storm cellar and never got to use this perfectly balanced milk alternative.

Which brings me to my “How hard life was” story. Adding lumpy water to a bowl of puffed rice was a real cereal killer. Morning breakfast for months became similar to execution day at the penitentiary, though the inmates looked more optimistic.  In the winter puffed rice was replaced with porridge, as the morning offering for the kids. Cold cereal with lumpy powdered milk was a pretty gross breakfast, but after consuming hot porridge with hot lumps of milk, the children romantically longed for the days of puffed rice and powdered milk.

Now this experience did allow me to make another life altering discovery. Some cereals float and some cereals don’t. Of course cereal aficionados know this. What some people haven’t discovered, is the floatability of the cereal demands different milk pouring approaches, regardless of the lumpiness of that milk.

Rice Krispies, Cheerios and the aforementioned Puffed Rice are floaters baby. This is why you are constantly wiping the counter or table when the uninformed, recklessly pour the milk onto the cereals that float.

Now the question on everybody’s mind is “Hey this is interesting and all, but do Rice Krispie squares float?”

That is a very good question. I am no scientist but let me propose the following theory to your insightful ask. Rice Krispies float. Marshmallows float. Ipso facto,(I am no lawyer, but ispso facto just sounded right here) if you combine two very floaty ingredients in your recipe, I am going to predict that this delicacy does float. Further experiments must be performed to verify my hypothesis.

Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes and Shreddies lack the buoyancy of Floating Cereal, and if left long enough, create a beautiful sludge at the bottom of your bowl. Floating and sinking cereals are never discussed in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Kellogg brothers went to their graves hoping nobody would discover the inconsistency of their invention.
There is one other category I do not have sufficient data to discus intelligently. Those pre-sweetened options, like Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch and Froot Loops, were never tested during my childhood. The cost of these marvellous options were outweighed by the demonic nature of this morning breakfast alternative. The truth is my dad had very weak dental coverage at his workplace, and mother could see the unarguable link between uncontrolled sugar consumption and cavities.

This ends my scary story about cereal killers. I appreciate the next generation will have their own story to tell the grandchildren about how difficult life was. They will regale the grandchildren with stories about their parents who wouldn’t upgrade their five month old IPhone to the new version of the IPhone. I predict the next generation of grandchildren will cry uncontrollably as the grandparents share the cruelty of their lives. Every generation endures their own “five-mile stories.”  Well except Eminem, his was Eight Mile.

Cue the blong.  To keep with this depressing traumatic theme, I offer this depressing traumatic song that asks the question:  What if it was really just a motel?


2 thoughts on “Cereal Killer

  1. Loved this, Dennis! I, too, am a “cereal aficionado” who spent the early 70’s coveting every offering displayed on the cereal aisle at the local Dominion’s. That is, until I insisted my mother buy me a box of Lucky Charms. They were magically disgusting but I was required to eat every bite before being allowed to return to my usual Shreddies.

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