C’mon man stop it already! Cap’n Crunch was my favorite breakfast cereal ever! Not the kind with the CrunchBerries, not the Peanut Butter Crunch, the original Cap’n Crunch. Every single morning for about 8 years I started my day with a bowl full of Crunch. I’d pack baggies of dry Crunch in my lunch bag and eat it as a snack during the day. Ma would try and make me eat something better for me, like Cheerios – before they were heart healthy, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes (not to be confused with the unhealthy Frosted Flakes) or, god help me, Grape Nuts. I don’t know about you, but there was no way I was ever eating Grape Nuts. First of all there was Eull Gibbons, who I remember as a creepy old guy on TV who ate pine trees. Every Saturday morning there he was asking “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” Who the hell eats trees? And who would eat a cereal named nuts that tasted like “wild Hickory nuts”. And why was he obsessed with nuts anyway? Let’s see – creepy looking old guy, obsessed with nuts, I had just discovered my nuts, he was trying to get me to eat something… I was on the cusp of puberty, there was no way I was touching Grape Nuts, his nuts, or anyone else’s nuts.
Full disclosure – while in the Navy I ate a whole lot of Grape Nuts – it beat the hell out of powdered eggs and canned potatoes. I still don’t know what wild hickory nuts are like.
Anyway – ma sometimes refused to buy my Cap’n Crunch, bringing home one of the healthy alternatives I discussed a minute ago. Actually she brought home the store brand substitute for those cereals. Ever try Foodtown Flakes of Corn? They couldn’t call them Corn Flakes because 1) Corn Flakes was trademarked and 2) bad as Corn Flakes were the Foodtown version was more like soggy cardboard. Same with the other off name versions – they tasted awful, they absorbed milk, and they sank to the bottom of the bowl before turning into cold beige mush. To top it off we used a lot of powdered milk in our house, so breakfast came to look like the gruel they served to the London orphans in “Oliver”. Cold, pasty, gray looking sludge that if you didn’t get it all out of the bowl would solidify by lunchtime. When that happened you had to throw the bowl away with the cereal, it was impossible to get the petrified remains out without breaking the bowl. And if you broke a bowl ma broke your ass, so eat hearty, eat quickly, and for damn sure wash out your bowl.
Nobody was asking “Please ma, can I have some more?”
Mornings we had 3 choices. we could eat the cereal, we could eat half a grapefruit, or we could go to school hungry. Actually, going hungry wasn’t an option because ma believed that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and you weren’t leaving that house until you finished your breakfast. And if you screwed around long enough with breakfast that you were late for school well, when you got to school you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a while. So it was grapefruit or sludge – gag!.
Seriously – gag! Over time I developed a very real gag reflex when faced with grapefruit or sludge. I could barely get it into my mouth, never mind swallow it. Ma never believed that I couldn’t help it, and many many days I went to school and stood in the back of the room because it just took too damn long to force down my breakfast. So to literally save my ass I had to find some solution to this dilemma, and before long I did – sugar.
Kids can and will eat almost anything if it has enough sugar in or on it. Ma really didn’t care that we put sugar on our breakfast to make it edible, mostly because she rarely saw how much sugar we did put on it. Grapefruit was a 3 teaspoon minimum. Sludge was 3 or 4 to start. If we could put more in it than that without causing the whole bowl to crystallize into chunky rock candy we would have. You wonder where kids get their energy? I got mine from doctoring my breakfast.
We made such a production every time ma brought home generic cereal she eventually caved and brought the Cap’n home. I think the real reason was that she didn’t want to spank us anymore. That or her arm was just too tired by the time she finished with all of us. In exchange for the real deal cereal we quit bitching about the powdered milk. We had reached breakfast detente.
Now the food nazis have decided that cereals like Cap’n Crunch, Frosted Flakes, Count Chocula, Cocoa Crispies, Sugar Smacks, Lucky Charms, and Froot Loops have too much sugar in them and are bad for kids. Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Life (“He likes it! Hey Mikie”), Cheerios, and Shredded Wheat are what they should be eating. Fine, buy your kids your healthy cereal. Just make sure you hide the sugar bowl
In the meantime – Fair winds and following seas Caption Horatio Magellan Crunch, Alfie, Brunhilde, Dave, Carlyle and Sea Dog. Even you Jean Lafoote you barefoot pirate you. The good ship Guppy sails off on eternal patrol.