Breakfast Under Fire & My Top 5 Cereals of a Bygone Era

by BROCK KOLLER

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Put down the spoon!

Did you hear this - Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day? Could this be true?

In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Indiana University School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Aaron E. Carroll writes, “Our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.”

Carroll brought up the fact that most studies are funded by the food industry, which, he writes, “has a clear bias.”

“The bottom line is that the evidence for the importance of breakfast is something of a mess. If you’re hungry, eat it. But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers,” Carroll writes.

On Good Morning America a day after the article was published, ABC News Chief Women’s Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton tended to agree with the professor. 

 “This concept that your body needs to eat as soon as you’re vertical because it’s in a fast, that is a complete myth,” Ashton said.

But come on now. Whether or not breakfast is a must appears to be something of a contentious matter, OK, fine, but the first meal of the day for many remains a big business.

According to Time Inc., breakfast order sales topped $52 billion in 2015, up 30% from 2009.

In fact, that same company, Time Inc., coincidentally, just debuted a brand new website devoted entirely to all things breakfast – ‘Extra Crispy.’ (I imagine the site is part of a complete internet, but I’ll have to double-check.)

“Extra Crispy allows us to experiment with inherently shareable content—from coffee obsessions to Cronuts and the viral food phenomenon of today. We’ll have our plates full,” said Matt Bean, SVP, Editorial Innovation, Time Inc.

If you are in the mood to peruse EC, you’d find such tasty offerings as “Why Pancakes Should Be a Side Item, Not a Main Course,” “The Battle to Put the ‘Ugh’ Back in Doughnut” (naturally for National Donut Day…err…National Doughnut Day), and “American Breakfast Through the Decades.”

All this talk about breakfast got me feeling a bit nostalgic.

Growing up, when it came to breakfast, there was only one word that could satisfy that morning meal craving – cereal.

But like all good things, some of my favorite cereals only lasted a limited time. Some even were only around for a cup of coffee (breakfast humor) – so much so I almost completely forgot about a few and, like I said, they were my favorites!

That’s when I came upon a gift for the cereal historian – a website called Mr. Breakfast. This site, run by, Eddy Chavey, a Los Angeles New School of Cooking graduate, has an online database of most every kind of cereal to man – along with descriptions, photos, and YouTube videos.

Plus, you get to see you’re not alone in your obsessive yearning for breakfasts of yore, as comments on almost every page read, “This cereal was my favorite! Bring it back!”

With the help of Mr. Breakfast, I have been able to track down my Top 5 cereals of a bygone era. These may have not been the most nutritious and I bet Professor Carroll would say I would’ve been better skipping these sugar filled bowls of joy, but just thinking of these cereals brings a smile to my face.

Now, just missing the cut were Ice Cream Cone Cereal, Batman 1989 Cereal, Kellogg’s Cinnamon Mini Buns, and Ralston’s Spider-Man. You still mean something to me. All of you.

#5 Kellogg’s Pop-Tart Crunch

They debuted in 1994 and were bite sized Pop-Tarts. Nifty! They had filling inside which resembled the original full-size breakfast bars. Along with the cereals themselves, much of the fun of memory lane was looking back at the old commercials that [persuaded] suggested for me to try a box. This was a good one.

 

#4 Urkel-Os

I really wanted to put this ‘Family Matters’ inspired cereal higher up on my list, but I can’t recall I even really liked the taste. I know I liked the fact that I was eating a TGIF related breakfast. I liked the fact Steve Urkel was on the box. And I liked the idea of a strawberry-banana flavored cereal in theory – I just can’t remember if that was a good thing in practice. But it still remains one of my favorite cereals I bring up numerous times a year. Yes, Urkel-Os you did that (That being made the list of my favorite cereals).

 

#3 General Mills’ Sprinkle Sprangles

Once you utter the name, you can’t forget it. Sprinkle Sprangles was as if you were eating sprinkled sugar cookies shaped like stars. It was delicious. At the time, I did not know what a nutritional label was, so it was even more delicious. It came out not too long after Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ was in theaters, so anything involving a genie was a hit in my book.

#2 General Mills Hidden Treasures

In 1993, according to Mr. Breakfast, General Mills not only debuted Sprinkle Sprangles, but also another ingenious meal known as Hidden Treasures. Much like Pop-Tart Crunch, the cereal consisted of puffed rectangles. But the fun of Sprinkle Sprangles was not every piece contained the fruit filling (artificial, as it was). “Which one holds a hidden treat?” That was the hook that got me!

And my #1 favorite cereal growing up was

Kellogg’s Fruity Marshmallow Krispies

While most on the list were original creations, my all-time favorite was a variation of an old-time classic. 

Let Mr. Breakfast explain it so you’ll understand. Take it away Mr. B:

“A single serving of Fruity Marshmallow Krispies contained a whopping 17 grams of sugar and hardly a trace of fiber. On the plus side, it did contain less than 1 gram of fat. In 1988, a document called the Environmental Nutrition newsletter called Fruity Marshmallow Krispies the worst cereal out of 123 cereal analyzed for bran content versus sugar.

 Ummm…

Ok, that was not exactly what I was looking for, Mr. Breakfast.

For me, Fruity Marshmallow Krispies had the best marshmallows – better than Lucky Charms. That good! There was something about the “primarily-round, nondescript shape” of these marshmallows that made them more enjoyable. And plus the cereal pieces were frosted. Frosted Rice Krispies with marshmallows? Can’t beat that.

And then of course, they had this catchy jingle that got stuck in my head and [brainwashed] caused me to remember this as my favorite cereal forever.

So while there may be some argument over the importance of breakfast - and my eating habits as a child -  there’s no mistaking that if you did eat breakfast growing up, you made some valuable memories – some valuable, delicious memories.

And if you love breakfast like it’s your job – you’re in luck – ‘Extra Crispy’ is hiring a Bacon Critic!

As for now, every time you hear a snap, crackle, or a pop, think of me and what breakfast is all about.