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. Remarkably similar in appearance to “real” cotton candy, Fluffy Stuff is real cotton candy for all intents and purposes. How the Charms Corp. maintains its webby integrity in a package is something of a mystery — the brief list of ingredients doesn’t contain any surprises (sugar, flavors both natural and artificial, various artificial colors, “turmeric coloring”), but the proportions remain unknown, as do the properties of the flavors mentioned.
The Heat-Miser-ish cowlick of gossamer sugar at the top is missing, due to the constraints of containment and shipping, but the overall presentation is the same as that found at street fairs and bar mitzvahs: trap lint collected from a dryer at the circus.
As a subject for classification, the circus peanut presents a formidable challenge, not least because of Foundation associate Dr. S.V.W. Lucianovic’s assertion that the circus peanut is usually shaped like a circus penis. But a peanut by any other name or shape would smell as weird, alas; its customary flavor is impossible to classify, its neither-fish-nor-fowl texture an off-putting artifact of the space age.
The particular product that arrived at our labs, the Spangler Colored Circus Peanut assortment sold by SweetGourmet.com, did not aid us in our quest for understanding; the bag sported a sticker for the website, but no nutritional information. Nor could we imagine what marketing dolt let the word “colored” past without a “multi-” prefix or a last-minute edit to “confetti.” The product page did enlighten us somewhat, however; the ingredients list is short and relatively straightforward (i.e. consists mostly of sugar and gelatin, versus the shuttle-program polymers we often discover in novelty foods), although the proportion of serving size (42g) to sugar (39g) is alarming. Although not terribly surprising.