I was raised in an apartment where we ate Cheerios, Special K, and Alpha-Bits for breakfast. We were allowed to sprinkle a little bit of sugar on the cereal for taste, but Mom wouldn’t buy us the really sugary cereals.
One morning, I went over to my friend Mark’s apartment. I’d already had my breakfast, but they were just sitting down to theirs. Mark and his brothers were eating Frosted Flakes, and his mother offered me some. Not wanting to be rude, and still a little bit hungry, I happily accepted and dug into the bowl of glucose-enhanced delight.
Oh my god!! It was the best thing I’d ever tasted. I could feel my teeth rotting in my mouth as I chewed, but I didn’t care. This was the kid equivalent of crack.
Later, when we were away from the table, I asked Mark if he ate Frosted Flakes every morning. He answered that they had all sorts of cereals, and named several that were also full of that sugary goodness. I was incredibly jealous.
I hatched a plan to convince my mother to buy some Frosted Flakes. Unfortunately, I was about 7 years old, so the only argument I could formulate was “but Mark’s mother lets him have them all the time!” Remarkably, this didn’t win my mother over. Despite my repeated attempts (i.e. whining and throwing a tantrum), she wouldn’t give in. The power of parenting.
Fast forward to this week, when that power became moot.
Kellogg’s buckled under to the Food Police and announced that they would start making their cereals more nutritious and change the way they market their products to kids. It’s to stave off a lawsuit by a couple of pressure groups who blame the company (and others) for making kids fat.
Of course it’s Kellogg’s fault! These kids must see the commercials for Cocoa Krispies, gather up their allowance money and go to the supermarket themselves, where they prowl the cereal aisle to find the ones with the most sugar and highest caloric content. Then they sneak them home and hide them, secretly munching away on their sweet treats when mom and dad aren’t looking.
Or, maybe it’s the parents of America who are buying this stuff for their kids, because of a national aversion to using the word “no.” That, combined with a lack of exercise (forget about playing outside — how many schools allow running at recess anymore, or have gym class everyday?) is why we have fat kids.
The Food Police don’t dare blame the parents. It must be the big, bad cereal company that’s liable. How dare they make something tasty that people enjoy eating? On top of that, they’re forcing kids to watch television and be exposed to those horrendous advertising messages!
So let’s invert the equation. Take every commercial for Cocoa Puffs and replace it with an ad for broccoli, complete with an endorsement by Shrek and Spider-Man. Would that make America’s kids healthier? Funny, I don’t recall a lot of my friends eating spinach just because of Popeye.
Where in all of this are the adults who might like a bowl of Frosted Flakes or Froot Loops? Don’t their tastebuds matter? Or are we doomed to a future of Bran Flakes and Mueslix?
No, our future will more likely be filled with a spoonful of sugar, which we’ll sprinkle over the newly reformulated versions of the cereals we used to like.