report filed by Dr. D.T. Cole
Description. Someone at Southern California grocer Ralph’s knows that barriers don’t break themselves down. When rice cakes first made their jump from hippie health stores to supermarkets, they got jazzed up with a light dusting of cheese or cinnamon. Ralph’s top food scientists looked at the healthy rice-cake landscape and buried it under a flood of berry sweetness. The addition of what is basically a candy coating to the humble rice cake takes it out of competition with hippie snacks and puts it in the ring with candified treats such as pink-elephant popcorn.
Packaging/Branding. The first thing you’ll notice about the bag is the color and texture of the rice cakes. It’s very purple and very pink, the kind of colors that laugh at nature. The next thing you’ll notice is that they look like hamburger patties. Bon appétit!
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. The Happy Melts Organic Yogurt Snack has the best intentions. Like the carob chip, the bran muffin, and the Tuscan yogurt bar before it, Nurture Inc.’s strawberry-yogurt chip aims for a less fatty and chemical, more healthful and gentle idea of snacking. And like the aforementioned wholesome nibbles, the Happy Melts Organic Yogurt Snack tastes like an elderly Birkenstock.
The bilious flavor is made all the more offensive by the sweet-seeming presentation: a tiny — one might even deem it “adorable” — meringue-esque disc of palest pink.