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Peggy Keener: Cerealously serious cereal

Snap, crackle and pop! If you can tell me what those words represent, then you, my friend, are a real American. And if you know what the Breakfast of Champions is, then you’re truly true red, white and blue.

What would an American kid’s morning be without a bowl of cereal? And how much smaller could grocery stores be without those burgeoning aisles of cereal boxes?

The first manufactured cold breakfast cereal was developed 157 years ago by health spa owner, Dr. James Caleb Jackson. It was his contention that most sicknesses were centered in the digestive system and he was on a cereal campaign to cure them all.

It’s hard to imagine why Jackson’s “Granula” was not a smash hit for it was made with deliciously wholesome graham flour baked into little cakes. Lamentably, however, the cakes were so brittle, they had to be crumbled and then baked again. Oh, should I also mention that they were only edible when soaked in milk overnight? This led some folks to dub them “wheat rocks.” Yum!  It gives one pause to realize what gigantic strides forward we, of the proud man-on-the-moon persuasion, have made from creating inedible Wheat Rocks to colored air Fruit Loops!

Behind the scene, Jackson’s dismal attempt reached the ears of John Harvey Kellogg who also ran a health spa. A “pure food” advocate, Kellogg liked the idea of cold cereal and began experimenting with a mixture of his own: wheat flour, oatmeal and cornmeal. Cheekily he also called his product “Granula.” An outraged Jackson sued and Kellogg quickly changed his cereal to “Granola.”

Before cereal, the typical American breakfast was a cholesterol nightmare consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, beef, biscuits, toast, jam and butter … enough to fortify a body for a day’s labor … in the field … at the office … or currently, binge-watching “Ozark” while lolling prone on the couch. If I were a betting girl, I’d wager that some of our more fleshy Americans still eat that kind of breakfast only now they add a bowl of cereal as a breakfast dessert. We are, after all, what we eat.

Recently I ran across a teasing cereal quiz in Reminisce Magazine. I thought you might be up for some cereal fun.

1. A 1958 TV commercial told kids this multigrain cereal was “A-B-C Delicious!”

2. Two decades after its 1942 debut, this wheat based cereal boasted of two scoops of dried fruit in every box.

3. What was the corn, oat and rice concoction that made people go cuckoo?

4. Marketed as an aid to digestive health, these high-fiber flakes came out in 1915.

5. These chocolaty bits of oven-toasted rice have been turning milk brown since 1958.

6. Kids love these sugary corn puffs in raspberry red, lemony yellow and orangey orange.

7. One of the sweetest of all cereals, this puffy wheat cereal weighs in at 56 percent  sugar! Yiikes!

8. Tony the Tiger arrived with this g-r-r-reat corn cereal in 1952.

In all cerealousness, how did you do?

Growing up with three siblings, it was always a challenge to wake up early enough to meet the Marigold milkman at the door. And just why would a kid do a crazy thing like that, you ask? Well, because then that kid had first dibs on the pure cream that came in the “bubble” at the top of the glass milk bottle.

Do you remember the little S-curved spoon we used as a stopper at the mouth of that bubble which prevented the milk from mixing with the cream? Even now, if I had my way, all cereal would be eaten with cream only. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the Eleventh Commandment.

And by the way, if you read today’s newspaper and you didn’t find yourself in the obits, go ahead and celebrate with a bowl of cream and cereal. But, then, I suppose you should go easy on the cream or you may just find yourself in the obits tomorrow!

Answers: 1. Alpha-Bits 2.Raisin Bran 3.Cocoa Puffs 4.Bran Flakes 5.Cocoa Krispies 6.Trix 7.Sugar Smacks 8.Frosted Flakes.