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. 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.
Description. Made by the Atkinson Candy Company (the Chick-O-Stick people), the RCB promises “PURE coconut for pure enjoyment!” What it delivers is rather more modest: the bar is hardly an entire rainbow, but a two-color top-of-a-tube-sock layout in glittery Strawberry Shortcake pink and off-white.
Packaging/Branding. A dissonant pairing of a gay-friendly rainbow and the sports-jersey style of font usually called something like “Gridiron” or “Rockne.”
Flavor Profile. The usual disclaimers for a coco-centric snack apply, but coconut lovers will find little to appeal to them, either. The white stripe is unobjectionable, although the texture — a densely Sour-Patch-esque gel cake with a hint of crunch — doesn’t match the taste profile. But the pink sections have an unpleasant pectin-y sourness; apparently, the idea is to replicate a berry of some sort. The…dingleberry, perhaps. Whatever the intent, the result is bilious and off-putting.
Habitat. Pride parades; pairs skate; tiki-themed office retreats.
Field Notes. Another effective route to a high BMI: the RCB contains 45% of the RDA of sat fats.
Revulsion Scale: 6
Description. Better known for the Mallo Cup, the Boyer Corp. didn’t have a completely terrible idea with the Butterscotch Smoothie, which aims to do for the peanut-butter/scotch pairing what Reese’s did for PB and chocolate.
Whether the pairing succeeds culinarily is almost beside the point, so distasteful is the visual presentation. All the butterscotch hues in the world — beige; caramel; camel — and the Boyer brain-trust selected a mid-aughts-Michael-Kors orange to coat the Smoothie. On top of that, the coating has chunks of peanut (we…hope) mixed into it. Add a crimped paper wrapper, and the whole affair looks like a vomit muffin.
Packaging/Branding. We would strongly suggest retooling the product to match up more closely with what appears on the package, as those Smoothies look reasonably attractive (not to mention, well, smooth). As it is, the label misrepresents everything about the product: the color; the texture; the proportions (and quality) of peanut butter to cup/coating.