Cereal Killer

My family refused to buy fun breakfast cereal when I was a kid. It was all Basic 4 and Kix (“Kid tested, Mother approved”. Even the slogan announced it was boring!) For a brief span of time my parents opened up to Cocoa Puffs, but we were never introduced to cereal marshmallows or Cheerios that were coated with anything other than Cheerio. So it wasn’t until college that I decided to “experiment” with breakfast cereals, thus discovering a world I had never fully known.

Looking back, I think that maybe my parents were simply shielding me from the pain that cereal lust can cause. As soon as a cereal enters your world, there’s a possibility that it won’t stick around for long. Here are a few that I’ve severely missed after they faced the terrible fate of discontinuation.

Oreo O’s.

Oreo O’s challenged Cookie Crisp in the “cookies for breakfast” field. While Cookie Crisp is shaped like cookies, Oreo O’s actually tasted like cookies. While they had nearly a ten year run (1998 to 2007), they’re now only available in South Korea. According to Wikipedia, the cereal ended its run after Kraft split ties with Post.

I remember being very skeptical about Oreo O’s, until I remembered that I didn’t necessarily have to eat it for breakfast. While it didn’t make you sick in the morning (if you eat it in reasonable portions, that is), it was also a great dessert alternative when you realized you ate all of the actual Oreos in your house.

Oreo O’s also wins due to the fact that they didn’t necessarily market towards kids with a kitschy mascot or a prize. The cereal was the prize! Cookie Crisp lost me the second that they replaced the Cookie Crook and Chip the Dog with a wolf (also named Chip) in 2008. It was bad enough when they downsized by acting as if the Cookie Crook never existed, thus giving sole responsibility of cookie hijinks to the dog. But to change animals completely? Harsh, Cookie Crisp.

Rice Krispies Treats Cereal

My heart sank when I realized this was no longer available. Let me review it for you in one simple sentence: This cereal was awesome. Honestly, I’m not even a huge fan of Rice Krispies Squares. I’ll politely eat one if you made a batch for a social gathering, but I’ve never craved them the way I’ve craved their cereal counterpart.

While the cereal has never been  listed as being discontinued, it’s been insanely hard to find. I figured that maybe it was just my luck, but according to reviews on Amazon, other people have been having the same predicament. Yes – Amazon.com carries it! And I’ve been dangerously close to taking the plunge and ordering it but the thought just makes me giggle. How would I explain the purchase? What if they aren’t as good as I remember? Why is it available on the internet and not my grocery store? Shouldn’t I pay my real bills first?

Croonchy Stars

Now, I can’t fully get behind this cereal because I never had it. However, I feel like I’ve seen the commercial a billion times because we taped Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation on TV once and this commercial (as well as one for the Purr-Tenders) was featured during one of the commercial breaks. Pretty soon, the Croonchy Stars commercial became part of the movie-watching experience for me.

Of course this is the cereal endorsed by the Swedish Chef. He was probably trying to roast up Big Bird, and accidentally ended up making star-shaped cereal. What does it taste like? I have no idea. Created in 1988 and discontinued after about a year, the box itself looks like a wild Muppet party, with “cinnamonamony” promises. I’m including it in the list because I’m hoping someone can fill me in on what I missed when I was 4 years old.

You can check out the commercial here – make sure to take note on how for a brief second, the Swedish Chef has human hands. Hopefully this condition is not a side effect of the cereal.

Peanut Butter Toast Crunch

I self-published a not-very-good book in 2009 and included an entire chapter on Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. “PBTC” – as I’ll refer to it -was an experiment from the people who brought you Cinnamon Toast Crunch and French Toast Crunch. Perhaps it’s like the distant, Care Bear Cousin of cereal relatives. That or the outcast, black-sheep sibling. Not only was I an early adopter but I tried pushing the cereal onto my friends, in the hope of starting a PBTC revolution. Unfortunately, this conquest failed.

PBTC is everything you’d expect from a cereal called Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. On the side of the box, Wendell the chef asked customers to give him a call in order to provide feedback on this recent invention. I called… and nobody responded. To this day, I’m filled with guilt – if only I had tried harder to connect with that chef, the world may not be deprived of Peanut Butter Toast Crunch.

This cereal was great with or without milk – and if I remember correctly, your hands weren’t covered in sugar, like with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, if you decided to eat them like a toddler (which I did).

Oatmeal Swirlers

I need to end on the otherwise-boring side of breakfast cereal – Oatmeal. One might not think oatmeal should count, but Oatmeal Swirlers were in a world of their own. After you made the oatmeal, you were given a pack of goop that allowed you to write, draw or play a game of tic-tac-toe, prior to eating it! The goop came in a couple flavors but I was set on trying out “red”. For some reason, this concept was extremely appealing as a child and I begged my parents to pick some of it up. Since oatmeal is typically viewed as a healthy alternative, my parents complied.

I remember sitting impatiently for the oatmeal to be done – 3 minutes seemed like 3 days. Finally, it was time. What should I draw first?

Something I should have remembered was that I was approximately 5 years old when this all went down. In other words, I didn’t have the steady hands of a true oatmeal artist. My smiley face – which I figured was an easy, fool-proof first design – looked like a circle that got hit by a truck. I had such instant disappointment with the first attempt that all of the magic was simply gone.

Part of me still longs for Oatmeal Swirlers. If I had another shot at it, years later, I’m sure my smashed circle would have improved a bit. Surely I could figure out my own in-home combination to obtain the joy of the original, but I don’t want to “MacGyver” myself up a disaster. I trust the good folk at General Mills who tested, researched and sampled Oatmeal Swirlers to the masses in order to get the gel-to-oatmeal ratio just right. Even if the concept was great and the execution was shaky, it’s still a win in my book.

Now it’s your turn: What cereals do you miss? Is there anything you wish had a slightly longer in-store shelf life? Were you a master at Oatmeal Swirlers? (If so, I sure hope you took pictures.)

Photo Credits: bestuff.com, crossroads-market.com, muppets.wikia.com, cerealoftheday.tumblr.com, humor.gunaxin.com