I am old school. Decidedly, defiantly (and I mean “in defiance of.” I’m not misspelling “definitely”) so. As such, I’m constantly gobbling up any and all references to the past days of glory that the internet can offer up. Recently, I’ve come across a bunch of YouTube videos of Saturday morning TV commercials from the 1980’s. There were toy commercials, and a few candy commercials, but the sheer magnitude of cereal commercials dwarfed them all.
My teenage years were a honey-frosted, sugar-coated golden age of cereal. Sure, they tried winning us over with standards like Corn Flakes, Cheerios, and Rice Krispies, but I didn’t know anyone who didn’t always add sugar to these. The cereal companies noticed too, so the cereal boxes got gaudier, and the cereal got sugarier.
Some of these boxes of sugar bombs even had candy prizes, or coupons for full-sized candy bars in them. Hell yeah! The butter knife fights between siblings to see who would get the prize must have been the stuff of legend. Of course, the sugar compani– uh, I mean, the cereal companies had to come up with a plan to get parents to add their crap to their shopping carts, so they invented the phrase “part of a complete breakfast!”
Sometimes it was a “balanced” breakfast, or a “nutritious” breakfast. Regardless of what adjective they used, they always showed the bowl of cereal on a table or tray, surrounded by a glass of milk, a slightly smaller glass of orange juice, and a plate with two slices of toast with a pat of butter. Can’t forget the butter. It then occurred to me: I’ve never had a complete breakfast when I eat cereal. Matter of fact, I don’t know anybody who did. Sure, we’d have some milk, juice, and toast with our scrambled eggs or pancakes, but when it came to cereal, we just poured the cereal, poured the milk, and sat down and ate it while looking at the back of the cereal box.
Actually, there was one time I tried to do it right. Being a child of television, I told my mother that I wanted to have cereal like they do on TV, with the milk, juice, and toast. She told me that the complete breakfast would be too much food for me so early in the morning. After a little bit more pleading, she finally agreed to make it for me. And, she was right. I had a couple of bites of the one slice of toast, a few sips of Kool-Aid (we didn’t have any orange juice), and none of the glass of milk (there was milk in the cereal; how much milk can one kid drink at one time?). I did, however, finish the entire bowl of Alpha-Bits. After spelling stuff with it for a while, anyway.
“Part of a complete breakfast” stuck around for quite a while. Though, in the mid-2010’s, the glass of milk remained (still?), toast was dropped altogether, and the orange juice had morphed into an actual orange. Unpeeled, incidentally. And it went from being “balanced” or “nutritious,” to just a “good” breakfast. Nowadays, you can still see the milk and orange in the background of most commercials, but sometimes, it’s just the bowl of cereal.
I still just have just the bowl. If I’m hungry after that, I just refill the bowl. That breakfast was “good” enough for me.