February 19, 2007

 

The art of crunch

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I am not alone in my fondness of cereal. For years it was and often still is referred to as “breakfast cereal” by the unenlightened (indeed, even Wikipedia). It is the proliferation and culinary advancement of cold cereals that have warmed my heart since I took to solids some 40 years ago. Like many American kids before and since, cold sugary cereals were a staple of my day’s nutrition, but on occasion I was subject to more healthy adult-oriented offerings, though still with a spoonful or three of sugar (helps the medicine go down, right?).

As an adult, the simple convenience of cold cereal kept it in the rotation of my diet, though my tastes have become more discriminating through the years. Nostalgic whims might find me on occasion ingesting the likes of Super Golden Crisp or Cap’n Crunch, both of which provide the elusive, high-quality après milk that can be, save in the most couth company, imbibed directly from the bowl. Now I generally seek more sophisticated offerings that, in addition to the traditional morning fare of nutritional and scheduling convenience, can complement a meal or serve as an appropriate and satisfying snack.
I could go into great detail of all the intricacies of cereal connoisseurship, but for now I’ll just lightly sprinkle a few of the salient points.

Among the grains used in cereal processing, oats are the exquisite Rolls Royce, wheat and rice the reliable and comfortable Cadillac and Lincoln, and corn the workhorse Chevy truck. For my money, all the top tasties are oat cereals, e.g. Life, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cracklin’ Oat Bran and the better quality granolas. Wheat makes up the bulk of the “healthy” cereals, what with the fibrous benefit of its bran. Total, Wheaties and Raisin Bran are all solid choices. Rice is sort of a poor man’s oats, creating such stalwart classics as Rice Krispies and its hard-to-find version of Chex. Corn is by far the most common grain, and via corn syrup, most common sweetener of the kiddie cereals. But corn still offers plenty to be excited about, what with Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, and any number of Cap’n Crunch varietals.

There is always the option for toppings, and here are a few of my preferences. For the oat-based cereals I find that ripe bananas (meaning nary a shade of green) bring a great taste combo to the table, especially in the après milk. The rice cereals do well with tangy fruit such as strawberries and blueberries, and I’ve even been known to slice up some peaches. Wheat also fares well with fruit, and the delight of a smattering of brown sugar cannot be underestimated. Ironically, the lowly corn, if not pre-sweetened to within a return trip to the dentist for fillings, fares well with bananas on top like those snooty oats. I can’t seem to find them any more, but Kellogg's Nut & Honey Crunch with bananas reigns supreme on my cold corn cereal menu (with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, still widely available, a close second).

Finally, I would like to mention that this post was inspired by a fellow blogger who recently revealed his Power of Cereal Knowledge, i.e., "knowing exactly which type of cereal should be eaten in any circumstance, any time of day." I tested his prowess and dedication to the craft and must say he passed with Fruit Loop colors. The importance of this skill should not be undervalued, at least among those of us whole-grain warriors who have the vision to see the future of cereal and mankind’s place in it. I salute all you fellow pilgrims on the vitamin-fortified highway of health and tastiness! We must unite to bring our message of hope and good taste to the masses! Thank you, Will Kellogg! Thank you, C.W. Post!

For now just kick back and enjoy a fine bowl o’ what’ere gives you the mellow comfort.

Cereal resources:

The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet by David Hoffman (author of The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet)
The Breakfast Bowl
Cereal Blogger

P.S. - In researching this post, I learned the sad news that the Mecca of cereal devotees, Cereal City, U.S.A. was recently closed in Battle Creek, Michigan.
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Comments:
Having grown up less than an hour's drive away from Kellogg's, Cereal was not just something I ate. It was a neighbor. A friend. A member of the family. And even though many miles of distance have come between us, Cereal and I are still brothers. I know Cereal like I know myself.

Tonight I shall eat Golden Grahams.
 
Having grown up less than an hour's drive away from Kellogg's, Cereal was not just something I ate. It was a neighbor. A friend. A member of the family. And even though many miles of distance have come between us, Cereal and I are still brothers. I know Cereal like I know myself.

Tonight I shall eat Golden Grahams.
 
"elusive, high-quality après milk " This phrase was nothing short of brilliant.

Your post, so wonderfully-written, so crispy and crunchy, made me wish I liked cereal, but I never have . . . sometimes I like to eat dry Cheerios instead of popcorn while watching a movie, but it's a rare occurrence. I feel as though I am missing out on an entire lifestyle, a boxed subculture, a piece of Americana.
 
if it's under 10C per oz. or BYGOFree I'm there. That's were 90%
of single guys get all their vitamins
 
Anybody remember BucWheats?

Nothng like half of a box of BucWheats and a quart of milk to quell the munchies...
 
O'Tim, you and Jeff should get together and go bowling.

Having grown up less than an hour's drive away from Kellogg's...

So what did the town smell like? Whenever I drive by the Purina plant on I-70 it smells like hot dog food and tires.
 
What a great post!

I'm a pedestrian corn-based cereal fan. I love Cap'n Crunch. But I really LOVE Quisp. I could get Quisp in Illinois, but have been unable to find it here in Georgia.

Quisp is not only superior in flavor, it's shape is less harsh on the roof of one's mouth. After the third bowl, with a melange of three-bowls worth of what you so aptly dub the apres milk, the roof of mouth is raw.

Thus, the Cap'n Crunch hangover.

It couldn't have anything to do with the sugar.....
 
I regularly have a huge bowl of cornflakes in the evening with ice cold milk. Not Frosties though, because there c-rrrraaaaap. Far too sweet.
 
I recall the Quisp vs Quake election from my younger, wilder days. I think that's where my interest in politics first began.

ook ook
 
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