Breakfast. For many, it’s a time to collect ourselves and prepare our minds and bodies for the day, to offer silent meditation and give thanks for the many wonderful things in our lives. It’s a time to connect with family over a healthful meal, to converse and share. It’s a time of great joy and …
OK, who the hell are we kidding here? Breakfast is 15, maybe 20 minutes, of full-on mayhem and chaos, when half-dressed children run amok, when school books and dog-eaten homework end up strewn across the floor. It’s a time of madness — literal and figurative. And it’s a time when a parent, in the throes of feeding pets and children and self is apt to toss a box of cereal and a gallon of milk on the table and shout, “EAT YOUR FRIGGING BREAKFAST OR YOU WILL ALL BE MURDERED!”
Now I could go on about the most healthful cereals on the market — the gluten-free, low-sodium sticks-and-twigs variety — but that would only add to your morning confusion. Try throwing healthy cereal in front of a whining, overtired pre-teen who is supposed to be at the bus stop in three minutes, and you’ll soon be acting on the aforementioned threat.
Instead, we’re going to remember some not-so-healthy cereals that were good in so many other ways — mostly nerdy.
1. Mr. T cereal
The A Team ran from ’83-’87, an action series that had teenage boys fantasizing about smoking cigars and blowing stuff up and being the grumpy kind of cool embodied by the one and only Mr. T. In a stroke of marketing genius, Quaker (yes, QUAKER) ironically chose the only black dude on the A Team for whom to create a cereal. Not so ironic is the repeated use of the word “team” in the TV ad, or the fact that the T-shaped cereal has a “touch of brown sugar.” Goddamn, that is a horrible theme song. It’s as if Jack Black and Trey Parker took a dump in a cereal bowl.
2. Nintendo Cereal System
You’re thinking, “What the eff?” Well, Nintendo teamed up with food producer Ralston to create this bizarre dual cereal, combining Mario Bros. with Zelda. Maybe they were thinking of appealing to both sexes. Maybe they were afraid to market each on its own, opting for this combo-pack instead. Either way, we got the short-lived and oddly named “Cereal System.” Surely our parents thought, “Awesome, one box, two kids, no hassle.” Surely we thought, “Can’t I have my own freakin’ cereal box, please?”
The Ralston folks followed up the “Cereal System” with the singular (and extremely nerdy) Urkel-Os. Probably the nerdiest character ever to hit the airwaves, Urkel made being a dork, at the very least, cute and funny. Arguably less important than geeks past and future — since most TV nerds empowered, rather than made fun of, nerd culture — but more entertaining than most, Urkel found brief but shining success on the sit-com Family Matters. Hey, like any breakfast cereal worth its abundance of salt (and sugar), it ain’t about substance, it’s about entertainment value.
4. E.T. cereal
I can’t imagine anything less appetizing than chocolate and peanut butter Es and Ts for breakfast, but as a children, this must’ve made all of us very happy. General Mills may have sold more, had they gotten Drew Barrymore for the commercial, but while we were getting our collective sugar fix, she was getting a fix all her own. As it stands, we are left with the memory of these three bad child actors and a cereal box spaceship. Spielberg, eat your heart out.
“Two crunches in every double-O.” What that even means, I have no idea. But C3PO is on the box, so it was every child’s favorite cereal — for about 10 minutes.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Another awesome theme song, for another bizarre cereal. These are “Ninja nets” combined with marshmallows, a staple of any horribly delicious breakfast. Ninja nets! A marketing ploy that doubtless found no footing among the younger set. Like every child in modern history, I never ate the cereal part of the cereal — just the marshmallows. You can keep your Ninja nets, you freaky-ass mutants.