Top 5 All-Time Best Cereal Innovations
Cereal is a geek’s best friend sometimes. Provided that you’ve purchased milk recently (or you have a cereal that can be reasonably eaten dry), cereal is a quick meal that we can eat while reading, gaming, watching anime or surfing the internet without taking up too much of our time with cooking. The sugar also provides us with a quick energy rush that is always welcome.
The other day, I decided to get some cereal for when I don’t feel like cooking and my husband is at work. I had been failing to consume cereal of late and I wondered why I kept buying cereal and not eating it; the answer occurred to me after some thought: I was buying “grown-up cereal,” and I hadn’t even been buying the kind that I like. I decided to say to hell with it; my plan was to buy a ginormous bag of generic Lucky Charms or Cap’n Crunch. I was even contemplating buying both Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs to mix them into my favoritest cereal of all-time: Cocoa Puff Lucky Charms, or as I like to call it, Super Lucky Fun Time #1 Cereal. Imagine my shock and delight when I arrived at the store only to realize that they sold generic chocolate Lucky Charms in a giant bag already, and the chocolate pieces even looked like Cocoa Puffs instead of Lucky Charms. I literally squeed in the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart.
This got me thinking about the best cereal innovations of all time. The first one, for me at least, is obviously chocolate Lucky Charms. Here are the next four, in no particular order.
2. Cap’n Crunch Oops! All Berries
Not all of my favorite cereal innovations are brand-specific, but this one surely is. For many years, I loved Cap’n Crunch, despite that tendency that it has to exfoliate the inside of your mouth. I should be more specific–what I really loved were crunchberries, much like how, in Lucky Charms, what I really loved were the marshmallows. I could not give less of a crap about the less-sugary fiber-filler that surrounded my little bits of sweet goodness. I especially hated the little yellow bits in Cap’n Crunch; I never did this experiment, but I often suspected that the box would taste better than the yellow bits.
When the Oops! All Berries came out, I was stoked about it. I still think it is one of the finest and most destructive cereals out there on the market, and I buy it whenever my mouth is healed enough to handle another box.
3. Special K Red Berries & other non-raisin fruit additions
Special K Red Berries is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite grown-up cereal. I hate regular Special K; I tried it once after falling in love with the strawberry kind and I found it pretty weaksauce–not only were the strawberries obviously missing, but the flakes themselves were flimsy and weak. I also hate the other ‘flavors’ of Special K. It seems that my love affair with this brand begins and ends with their strawberry flavor, and that’s fine with me.
Fruit in cereal used to consist of either raisins or neon fake-fruit-flavored bits that are actually made of corn. I like raisins okay, but as dried fruits go, they aren’t my favorite. Or even my second or third favorite. I’d much prefer dried strawberries, raspberries, dates, cranberries–pretty much just about any dried fruit over raisins. To the people who started thinking outside the (cereal) box when it comes to dried fruit, I say bravo.
4. “Adult” cereal that actually tastes good
Adult cereal used to be shredded wheat (bleh), bran flakes (double bleh), and Grape Nuts (oh HELL NO). I like bran muffins, I don’t like bran flakes. I like shredded wheat in Triscuits, but not in my breakfast bowl. And Grape Nuts just taste like slightly nutty rocks–I don’t care about their new slick advertising campaign, I will never willingly purchase that cereal.
Thankfully, due to the organic and healthy food craze, we no longer have to settle on boring adult cereals. People want things that are healthy and taste good, and the cereal companies are delivering. I love granola. I love all of the different things you can do with granola; although this oat and honey granola from Cascadian Farms is one of my favorites, you can do so much more than just this basic formula. Nuts, fruits, spices, crunchy flakes, yogurt clusters–you can make it into a veritable cornucopia of breakfast cereal goodness, and it tastes good.
Granola and “healthy” cereal don’t just have to be for breakfast, either. It’s great if you pop a handful into some yogurt for a snack; at the very least, you can feel a little more adult eating it for dinner than if you bust out the Lucky Charms (if that’s a concern for you–for me, it is definitely not a concern). And if you already have a box in the cupboard, you don’t have to pay extra for that fancy-schmancy yogurt that comes with a little container of granola on top of it. Also? You can make your own granola bars. Also? You can even make your own damn granola, your own customized mix. What a wonderful world we live in.
5. Cooking with cereal
Originally, I wanted to dedicate #5 solely to Chex Mix, such is my awesome love for Chex Mix, be it homemade or out of a bag. I can’t in good conscience ignore the other awesome treats made out of cereal, though. The first obvious overlooked treat is Rice Krispy treats; I have to admit that they aren’t my personal favorite, but they definitely deserve a nod. The sweet version of Chex Mix, often called Puppy Chow, is also right up there. One of my favorites is a recipe that my grandma used to make that she called “Garbage;” consisting of peanuts, Corn Pops, the nasty yellow Cap’n Crunch (this is the one time I actually like it), pretzel sticks, and white chocolate, it’s a snack that, once made, tends to disappear very, very quickly. This is the closest recipe to hers that I could find online, although we just used white chocolate chips and no oil, drizzled it over the mix already spread out onto cookie sheets, and froze it until the chocolate set. Try it sometime; it’s delicious. You can use your favorite cereal, nuts, and whatever, although I suggest something fairly uniform rather than a trail-mix type cereal.
I think I’d have to say that cereal is my absolute favorite geek fuel, especially with the above advancements in cereal technology. What’s your favorite cereal or geek food?