Considering a career in the alimentary-research field? Think twice, for you will spend many a greyish-green hour whomping room-temperature cream of mushroom onto sidewalks, to compare its similarity to vomit with that of tapioca; grinding off-brand cheese puffs in a pestle until you develop RSI; and horrifying first dates and prospective in-laws by comparing the top note of a lobster cracker to bacterial vaginosis.
But if you can get through a worthy tome like The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch by Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis without requiring an Alka-Seltzer or a meditation break, you just might have a future in this business.
TGACB is a tirelessly researched, gorgeously illustrated, and astonishingly straight-faced encyclopedic history of the cold-cereal industry. Readers will learn that SpongeBob and Hannah Montana have their own cereals, for instance, and that General Mills VP John Holahan invented the tiny versions of marshmallows we find in breakfast cereals — known within the industry as “marbits” — by cutting up a Brach’s circus peanut. (He subsequently eluded justice.) It’s also an invaluable window into the metric tonnes of horseshit the naïve American consumer would put up with in decades gone by.
The B.A.R.F. has compiled a (Cheeri-)overview of the lowlights, both the cereals themselves and a few of the more egregious forgotten mascots. We highly recommend experiencing the book for yourselves, however.
"Girl Cootie Crunch" didn’t survive the first draft, evidently.
Without the equally off-putting mascot, “Bixby Beaver,” Crunchy Loggs might have avoided the association with turds in the punchbowl. Alas.
Fiesta Fruity Pebbles with Confetti Sprinkles
As a result of a parental sugar-cereal embargo that continues to this day, Dr. Bunting spent most of the ’80s craving the most diabetically sugar-laden breakfast foods on the market, but this would have been a Pixy Stik too far even for her.
Description. Dr. Blankenship toted the Burger Rings all the way from Down Under for testing in the home office. Dr. Bunting The Elder does not eat anything which walked on land, but “happily” for her, Burger Rings do not contain actual burger. (Or rings.) The Rings themselves do not contain any resemblance to their depiction on the packaging. As portrayed, Rings do not look appealing, exactly, but they are sizeable, and reminiscent at least of the pub grub they apparently aim to replicate. In real life, Rings look like Totis, but not as red or suggestive of irradiated Spaghetti-Os.
Packaging/Branding. Misleading, as mentioned above, and also counterintuitive. The color scheme probably wants to evoke a browned patty, with black singe marks, and mustard…but the dusky shades bring to mind a mid-eighties office park at night. Australian package notes and warnings provide some interest, although the “When you’re done, put the pack in the bin!” exhortation is properly read as “Put the pack in the bin; then you’re done.” The back label also disclaims that “average values [are] subject to seasonal variation.” In what season whey powder is at its freshest is not mentioned.
Description. Ever since that ill-advised promotion 25 years ago during which the Mars Corp. asked America to vote on which color M would replace the staid but reliable beige, the M&M has become progressively more antic in its desire to be all candies to all people. Specialty colors, pretzel fillings, uncomfortable advertising campaigns that ask us not only to anthropomorphize these tiny edibles, but also to infer that they are sexually active — there is the whiff of desperation.
The candy-corn/white-chocolate M&M pairs that whiff with a much stronger literal one, of candied orange peel rolled in Nerds. Each M is between a classic and a peanut M in size; the colors follow the stripes of a classic kernel of candy corn.
Packaging/Branding. Standard for the M&M family. Our AV technician failed to capture an in-focus shot of the package, but the front features the red M dressed in a candy-corn “costume” and looking too drunk to care what foolishness his overlords have forced him to promote this time. He may also be staggering under the weight of the 35% RDA of sat fats the single-serving package contains.
Two Faux-reo snacks enter; one Faux-reo snack leaves. And takes the appetite with it.
Description. OD: The Oreo® Donut is one of two donuts available as part of Dunkin and Baskin’s summertime Oreopalooza. An marriage between one of the most popular cookies in history and a ubiquitous fast-food brand is completely sensible, and the donut itself looks good — stylish, even, with bright-white icing and midnight-brown Oreo chunks on the top. PT: The funereal coloration of the Tart itself is disconcerting, and not helped by a crooked and unattractive assembly-line-misfire glomp of icing, itself flecked with Oreoid dots that suggest shower mildew, that does not “match” the color of the filling.
Testing the flavor-revulsion and retroperistaltic coefficients of Lester’s Fixins sodae: Coffee, Bacon, Sweet Corn, and Buffalo Wing. Do not attempt.