Hello, I’m Whimzie, And My Children Are Cerealaholics…

Looking back, I see indications that I may bear some of the responsibility for my children’s addiction. I think in some ways I try to compensate for the cereal childhood that I never had. I don’t think I should shoulder the blame completely alone. Oh no, I think there’s plenty  of blame for several people. Let’s start with my own mother and with this guy:

images1Oh, sure his wife is Marlo Thomas who is an amazing champion for St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital and who works tirelessly to find a cure and better treatements for children’s cancers. I’m even sure that he, Phil Donahue, is a nice man, a fine upstanding citizen and a diligent contributor to society. But this man also had a talk show from 1970 to 1996, a talk show that ruined my sweet cereal childhood. You see, one day my mom was watching Mr. Donahue’s show. Phil’s guest that day was a pediatrician who fancied himself some sort of nutritionist. Now this was way before our current health conscious society even knew what trans fats were or that high fructose corn syrup was bad for you, but Dr. Smith was way ahead of his game. On that particular show he was preaching against the dangers of sugar in foods. I don’t know exactly what he said, but it was enough to send my mom on the warpath. From that day on, we were not allowed to have any cereal if sugar was the first or second ingredient.

Remember, this was back in the day when cereal choices were limited anyway. But every time we went to the grocery store, my brother and I would study the sides of cereal boxes like they were preparation for the SAT. Maybe, just maybe Sugar Smacks had changed their formula since last time we were there and sugar wouldn’t be the second ingredient. People would walk through the cereal aisle and stare at the pitiful children pouring over the rows of cereal boxes. “Didja find one?” “Nope, not yet.” Every week we’d hope against hope for something new, but every week we’d go home with this in our cart:

images2Look. I have nothing against Cheerios. It’s a lovely cereal, truly it is, but I ate bowl after bowl of this cereal over many years of my life. It’s a wonder my brother didn’t float like a Cheerio in the bathtub. For my brother, cereal was like many people’s morning coffee. We found it best not to talk to him until after he had his first bowl.  A few months later, Donahue had Dr. Smith back on the show and as a result my mom decided that my brother might have a milk allergy. She took him off cereal for awhile to see if it made any difference. Oh, it made a difference all right. Ever seen a coffeeaholic go without coffee for a few days? It was a sad, dark time in our family’s cereal history. 

The only bright spots were the times we spent at my grandmother’s house. Almost as soon as my parents left, Nanny would take us to Bi-Lo grocery store and let us pick out any cereal we wanted. We almost always came home with this:


Oh, and a bag of these:

horseshow-046They have absolutely nothing to do with cereal, but they were another treat my mom would never buy at home. We’d get completely hopped up on sugar that week and then begin suffering severe sugar withdrawals on the drive home. 

Eventually my brother and I grew up and started making cereal choices of our own. I think for a few years we ate what we wanted when we wanted, but eventually I became a mother. A mother who reads and watches talk shows where nutritionists preach against the dangers of sugar AND high fructose corn syrup AND trans fats. Before long, I would come home from the grocery store with boxes of this:

images21 Then I started noticing  that whenever we’d go visit K’s mom, our kids would eat bowl after bowl of this:

gm_cookie_crispOnly the little Merlin on the box had changed. It was still nothing more than cookies in milk for breakfast. I ate a few bowls at my mother-in-law’s. They were just as good as I remembered. Upon our return from one visit, I found myself in the grocery aisle, conflicted and confused. I had thoughtfully placed in my cart the obligatory box of Cheerios, but I was drawn to the Lucky Charms. They’re magically delicious, you know. Plus I had a coupon that allowed me to buy three boxes and get one free. The kids were with me one day at the store and I ended up buying three boxes of  Rice Krispies so that everyone could have one of the Indiana Jones spoons contained in each box. Instead of learning how to find sugar in the ingredients, my children became adept at deciphering whether a box actually contained a toy or involved box tops, money, and stamps. Our cereal addiction grew, one thing led to another, and before I knew it I had six boxes of cereal in my cart. I reasoned that we’d only eat the sugary cereals on Saturdays. That worked the first week. The next thing I knew we were eating cereal willy-nilly not only on Saturdays, not only for breakfast, but for snacks and even–gasp–for dinner on Sunday nights! Suddenly six boxes weren’t enough, we needed nine boxes to feed our habit. It snowballed from there and this morning, I looked in the pantry and this is what found:

img_07413We have a problem. Yep, we’re one step away from being Jerry Seinfeld. What’s even more embarrassing is that we’ve already plowed through two boxes since I was at the store last week. Some of those are relatively healthy cereals and some are like candy in a box. My children have even concocted weird cereal cocktails that involve mixing various cereals when their favorite flavors are too low to fill a bowl. They’re addicts and I’m to blame. I bought the cereal. I put it in their bowls and gave them spoons. I understand that admitting we have a problem that is out of our own control is the first step. I guess now I should start looking for a 12 Step group to join. And I will, right after I finish this bowl of Lucky Charms.


By the way, when I was home over Christmas do you think I found even one box of Cheerios in my mom’s pantry? How about even one box of cereal that didn’t have high fructose corn syrup or sugar listed as the first or second ingredient? Shameful.



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23 responses to “Hello, I’m Whimzie, And My Children Are Cerealaholics…

  1. “We love you Whimzie.”

    I had to laugh…right before I clicked over to your blog I realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast…so I went a grabbed a bowl of Cheerios. But now I am singing “Its magically delicious!!” over and over again in my head.

    I think if cereal is your worse vice, you’re doing pretty good!

  2. This is so funny. I actually like Cheerios–as long as they’re covered with snow…er…scoops of sugar. Otherwise, they taste like sawdust.

    Oh, thank you for the trip down memory lane. I can still sing the Apple Jacks jingle. I mostly ate Raisin Bran because it was “healthy” (ever see the sugar on them raisins?). Sometimes, in an act against God and nature, my mom would even add sugar to my cereal. Probably harkening back to her days of yore–shredded wheat was the only cereal they had when she was a kid.

    My son eats honey nut generic cheerios. And both kids get to pick whatever rot gut cereal they want to eat for the last week of school and on vacations. Otherwise, I tell myself that honey nut cheerios aren’t so bad…they have at least 1 gram of fiber, after all. 🙂

  3. SnoodleBowl…would you like to hear the list in my pantry??

    Reese’s Puffs
    Frosted Mini-Wheats
    Rice Krispies
    Cocoa Pebbles
    Rice Chex
    South Beach Living–Strawberry Delight

    PLUS, I have one less kid than you do…so, we’re all floating in the same bowl a milk, sister. No cereal shame in my game…hello, we brush the sugar bugs off our teeth after each and every bowl.

    Man, Phil is a throwback for sure…made me think of my Mama!

  4. carpoolqueen

    You think our mothers thought we’d grow up to be sugar nuts? They ruined us, I tell you, ruined us.

    I console myself by making sure that with the sugar cereal habit, I’m raising children that will become granola-eating vegans.

  5. OMGoodness! You are telling my story. My great-grandparents walked with us to the neighborhood grocery and we picked out our own cereal box (6 kids), our own can of pringles and a packet of powder to make home made root beer! We were in heaven. My mom was single and working full time so this was a treat we only rec’d at grandpa’s house. Now, when I see a great sale like right now, Lucky Charms is $1.75 at Albertson’s and I have coupons, woo hoo! I go crazy. My pantry looks like yours. We love cereal and my boys carry it in baggies for snacks when we are hiking.

    Fun post!

  6. Have you been spying on me?????

    ACTUALLY, just recently (a couple of weeks ago) I decided to (set myself up for failure) challenge myself to serve my kids only healthy or hot breakfasts, and to help with that once the cereal ran out I didn’t buy anymore. I did pretty well for awhile….

    …now instead of cereal they’re getting Nutella on toast every morning…maybe I need to go buy some cereal:)

  7. I console myself by stressing the word “Fruit” everytime I say, “You guys want FRUITy Pebbles for dinner? Go ahead!”

    And Phil Donahue? This man is also why my PB&J was taken away by my grandmother. Growl.

  8. My kids would love to come to your house for breakfast…so many choices! They always complain that I get the same stuff over and over again, and they are right.

    They still manage to make it all disappear in no time though! We can put away an amazing amount of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds! But as far as variety, not a lot of that going on here!

    Don’t feel bad about cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner…same thing happens here. At least with multiple cereals, you might be inadvertantly covering multiple food groups! 🙂

  9. That’s hilariously wonderful!!!! And man… that’s a lot of cereal.

  10. Love this! Last time I counted we had 13 boxes of cereal in our cupboard. And that’s not our record! I’m the health-nut about cereal (Go Lean Crunch IS good, I promise), but my husband swears he will never eat healthy cereal again because his parents would only buy Raisin Bran. And it’s not even healthy! It has like 16g of sugar. And Raisin Bran Crunch is worse.

    We keep a stash of sugar cereal in a special cupboard. It’s where all the ding dongs, pop-tarts, and powdered donuts go. And my Lucky Charms. Everyone knows not to touch my Lucky Charms!

  11. My mom read a book called “Sugar Blues” that blew our entire childhood down the toilet. I only ever had sugar cereal at G’ma & G’pa’s house. At home I had Cheerios, Wheaties, and Uncle Sam. yum. Don’t even get me started on carob.

    My kids are allowed to have ‘summer cereals’- when their brains aren’t expected to grow, they are allowed to choose something other than our regulars. I’m more lenient than Mom, we have frosted mini wheats sometimes, but overall I’m mean, mean, mean.

    I’m sure they’d like to go live with their new aunt Whimzie.

  12. I just went grocery shopping and I was staring at the Cheerios contemplating buying them in honor of your blog post today.

    I’m weird.

  13. You put a smile in my rather “hard” day. Thanks!

    If I buy the “healthy” cereals, then my children pour half the sugar bowl on top…might as well buy the good stuff, the first time around.

  14. Lydia Stevenson

    After 6 years of living in Poland, I continue to torture myself by looking in the cereal isle for sugary “American” cereal. The only one I can find is Cookie Crisp and I am sure it has 99% less sugar than it’s American counterpart. Come July, our family will be moving into that isle at Wal-Mart. We could be there for days and we are not even venturing to the candy or chips . Six months of sugar won’t hurt them will it? Because when they get back to Poland no more sugar.

  15. I must confess to being one of those healthy mums who examines sugar content in cereal. Here we have a sad rule that sugar content must be low during the week, but anything goes at the weekend. And yes – Cheerios (but not the honey nut ones) and Kelloggs Multi Grain shapes pass the during the week sugar test along with Rice Krispies, Cornflakes and Weetabix.

    My kids will probably need therapy when they grow up from their sugar- deprived childhood.

    BTW – digital scrapbooking – THE WAY TO GO! No glitter/glue or mess. I have lots more links if you are interested.

  16. My mom was a sugar Nazi. The list of cereals we couldn’t eat is long.

    And sadly, I’ve turned into that mom.
    (Hangs head in shame.)

  17. Deena

    So funny!

    Just last week my grocery store had a special that I couldn’t refuse. 7 large boxes of cereal, a box of Poptarts and 3 gallons of milk for $14 – before coupons! I’ve never purchased 7 boxes of cereal at one time. I laughed when I looked into my basket.

    We sometimes have cereal for our Sunday night supper. It’s so easy when you get in late from church and it’s almost bedtime. My friend laughs that we actually sit down as a family and eat cereal for dinner.

  18. If my kids saw all of these cereal boxes, I think they would think they have died and gone to heaven!!! I hardly EVER, EVER buy cereal. When my kids go to my mom’s house she will buy the big bags of cereal and they will empty her of house and home while there for 2 days . . . no kidding. They love going to Nanna’s house b/c she lets them eat as much cereal as they want.

    I did try at one time to have cereal on Sunday mornings and we called it Cereal Sunday . . . but, for the most part I stopped buying it . . . I felt they were out of control, as they’d eat 3 or 4 bowls a piece.

    I bet when my kids grow up they will let their kids have as much cereal as they want. I finally broke down the other day and bought instant oatmeal, as I’ve fed them the old fashioned kind since birth, sweetened with honey, of course (don’t hate me). But with moving and chaos, I had to do something easier. . . excuses, excuses . . . I know.

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  23. Growing up, I struggled with this. Or rather, my mom did, I guess. She never allowed me to have certain things that I wanted (sugary cereals and Capri Suns come to mind) so when I went to friend’s houses, I always gorged on it.

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