Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The one and only Cheerios

Find me one person who hates cereal and I will show you a person with a heart of stone. I am sure there are people out there who prefer oatmeal or toast in the morning, or those who are now lactose intolerant and have had to modify their breakfast plans, but for our generation, cereal is the ultimate comfort food and for some, a dietary staple.

College kids eat it by the boxful, and for us yuppies in New York, it is something we can actually afford. Different brands are associated with different memories and serve different purposes. You have your health nuts, your bran-lovers, the people who like it soggy and sink it in milk, those who put bananas in it and those who like it so sugary it makes your teeth itch. There's morning cereal, snack cereal, cereal you eat late at night, but cereal is everywhere, no doubt about that.

Everybody has their favorite kind, but when pressed as to explain why, the answers are usually illogical or the ever-informative, "I dunno. It's just so good!" My roommates in college were Special K fanatics. My mother can't let go of the forbidden pleasures of her childhood in the Philippines and still loves "Pops." Vronsky is obsessed with Honey Nut Cheerios, and oddly enough, Raisin Bran. I had a friend who loved Cracklin' Oat Bran so much she would have a bowl every night in the dining hall, without fail.

Personally, I am wedded to plain old Cheerios. I've tried lots of others, and can appreciate the special texture of Chex, the sweetness of Frosted Mini-Wheats, the addictive taste of Life at 3am, and the organic whole-grain goodness of Kashi's Autumn Wheat, yet it will always be Cheerios for me. Why? The only reason I can think of, besides the ubiquitous "it's just so good!" is that it is the cereal I grew up with, plain and simple. It reminds me of my dad pouring out first just one, then two, then three and four bowls each morning over the course of many years as our family grew, always with a cup of juice and piece of fruit and cheese to accompany it. We'd sit and read the funnies (provided there was no last minute homework to finish up), and then off to school. Simple and uncomplicated, yet nourishing and delicious. And isn't that exactly what we really love about cereal? Besides the fact that it is just so damn good, of course.

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