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. A comparatively faithful rendition of Sanrio’s most ubiquitous character, the Hello Kitty Marshmallow Pop does hit a couple of uncanny-valley snags. Its in-packaging presentation implies that it is composed entirely of Christmas-cookie sprinkles, but this isn’t the cause of the unsettlement; rather, it’s the rodent-y placement of Kitty’s button nose, which never quite succeeds in three dimensions — and the nipple-y placement of Kitty’s shirt buttons.
Speaking of buttons, their texture may startle some consumers; they, and Kitty’s other “features” (her bow, whiskers, et al.), resemble button candy in both diamond hardness and dearth of flavor. Setting them aside for future messages to be written on glass is advised.
Description. Apparently, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is a titanic effort to construct. How else to explain the proliferation of products meant to cut one’s build time? (The hideous brand names — Goober; Koogle — defy any attempt at rationalization.)
Thus, the PB ‘n J Sandwich Cracker, featuring all the carcinogenic preservatives of the Toast-Chee et al., but none of the illusion of freshness or good taste. Unattractive, stale, and employing the cheapest fake-grape formulation available, the PB ‘n J Sandwich Cracker is an insult to snacking, and to the rules of punctuation.
Packaging/Branding. It is telling that the words “artificially flavored” are rendered nearly the size of the customary noxious branding troll and his ill-fitting footwear at the bottom of the cracker sleeve. It is also telling, if hardly surprising, that Keebler fails to understand the correct punctuation of a contraction, posting only one apostrophe before the “n” (the word “and,” shortened on both sides, requires two apostrophes, one on each side).