My fundamental weakness when it comes to Frosted Flakes is well known. So well known, in fact, that my friends have now gotten into the regrettable habit of buying me boxes of the delectable sugary concoction, knowing that I will be unable to resist spooning down bowl after bowl. One of our friends presented me with a box in February 2020, right before our last pre-pandemic dinner party, and last month the B.A. Jersey Girl doubled down on this cruel-humored practice by giving me the above “large size” box of Frosted Flakes, gift wrapped, in front of a group of colleagues at a holiday party.
I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but for 2022 I am determined not to crumble in the face of Tony the Tiger Temptation. I notice that this particular box of Frosted Flakes (designated box KLB 019 14:56) has a “best if used by” date of September 24, 2022. (Who knew, incidentally, that Frosted Flakes has a de facto expiration date? It’s never been an issue, as whenever I’ve bought them before they’ve been totally and shamefully eaten within a day or two.)
Can I make it until September 24, 2022 without opening and eating the 19.2 ounces of sugar-coated corn flakes, thereby receiving 8 vitamins and minerals? I’m going to try, and to demonstrate my continuing resolve I’ll periodically post “proof of flakes” photos of the unopened box against future news backdrops, much like kidnappers provide “proof of life” photos of their victims with a daily newspaper.
And if, against all odds, I make it to September 24, 2022? Why, I’ll celebrate my commitment by eating the cereal, of course! Some things are just too good to waste.
Everyone has something they can’t resist. Maybe it’s Hershey’s kisses, or honey-roasted peanuts — but we all have some weakness that we are powerless to defy.
For me, it’s Frosted Flakes. They’ve been my favorite cereal since I was a kid — at least, since Quisp and Quake crossed the Rainbow Bridge to Cereal Heaven. On a Saturday mornings I would fix heaping mixing bowls of Frosted Flakes and spoon them down while watching cartoons. And, even today, if there is a box of Frosted Flakes around I know I will eat it all, and probably in one sugar-frosted orgy of cereal and whole milk gluttony that will leave me feeling scarred and guilty for weeks. As a result, Frosted Flakes have been permanently banned from the house.
However, I stupidly mentioned my terrible secret to a friend recently, and when we had friends over last night she brought this box as a gift. So now I’ve got Tony the Tiger staring me in the face, posing the supreme challenge: how long can I go before I inevitably succumb to temptation and gobble down the whole box?
The Washington Post letters to the editor page has seen a significant debate back and forth on whether cereal is a good way to start the day at breakfast, or whether sugary cereals have ruined the kind of breakfast Americans used to eat. The President of “Morning Foods” for Kellogg’s wrote in to emphasize the nutritional value of a cereal breakfast, noting that “[a] serving of cereal and a half-cup of skim milk can provide protein and four nutrients most people don’t get enough of: fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. That meal is also 152 calories; a bagel with cream cheese has more than double the calories and saturated fat.” He added that “Kellogg’s offers more than 20 cereals that provide a good source of protein when eaten with a half-cup of milk, and more than 90 percent of our cereals have 10 grams or less of sugar per 30-gram serving.”
I’m not sure what a “30-gram serving” is, but of course the problem with cereal is not whether you can structure a breakfast that makes sense from a nutritional standpoint. No, the problem is moderation and portion control. Even if people knew what a “30-gram serving” looks like, they end up eating heaping mixing bowls of cereal while they’re watching TV. Or, at least, I do — which is why we have a longstanding rule to not have any cereal around our house. In my case, where I’m helpless to resist the lure of Frosted Flakes and would eat a whole box if given the opportunity, total abstinence is the only practical course.
And here’s another issue for cereal manufacturers: millennials aren’t eating it. But their objection isn’t nutritional in nature; instead, according to survey data, many millennials apparently don’t like eating cereal for breakfast because you have to clean up after eating it. The millennials prefer yogurt cups and breakfast sandwiches because you can just throw the remains away, whereas cereal requires that you rinse off the bowl and spoon and put them in the dishwasher. This has caused some people to make fun of millennials as lazy, but I think millennials simply acknowledge an important point — if you don’t fully rinse off the bowl after you’ve eaten cereal, the remains of the cereal and the milk create some kind of chemical bond with the bowl, leaving the flakes seemingly welded to the sides of the bowl, that makes later clean-up an enormous hassle. If you’re rushing to get to work in the morning, therefore, maybe cereal isn’t for you.
Poor cereal! Caught between the Scylla of poor nutritional value and the Charybdis of too much work to consume!