I mentioned Chocolate Frosted Flakes the other day. Honestly, I saw them on the shelf as my wife and I were grocery shopping and it gave me real pause. My mind raced back to Calvin, of Hobbes, who favored Chocolate Toasted Sugar Bombs on his breakfast table. He likened the experience to "eating a bowl of Milk Duds."
Before continuing, I should confess that once on a dare, I ate a bowl of Cocoa Puffs swimming in Coca Cola. It did all those things that you might expect to my teeth, gums and nervous system. It also crossed a certain combination off my stunt-eating list once and for all.
These days, I eat granola in the mornings. It takes me back to the seventies, when growing up in Boulder, Colorado you had to have more than a passing fancy for all those oats and grains and natural sweeteners. Which meant honey. I learned way back then that processed sugar was Satan in granular form. This was somewhat ahead of the curve that had cereal companies still advertising Super Sugar Crisp and Sugar Smacks and of course those grrrreat Sugar Frosted Flakes. How to contend with the growing conscience of the cereal consumer, looking to redefine their diet?
Take the "sugar" out of the title. This marketing strategy would be somewhat akin to Tolstoy's publisher suggesting he take the "War" off the cover of "War and Peace" so it wouldn't be such a downer. We all know now that when we look at the ingredients, which are not helpfully printed in a tiny font on the side of those boxes, the first ingredient is the most important. If you were lucky, you might get corn or oats in that first slot, but it was almost a certainty that right behind that grain would lurk Demon Sugar. How else could we expect children across America to ingest anything from the food pyramid that wasn't grilled?
Somewhere along the line, I grew up. Or at least that's the way I like to tell the story. I started eating Buc-Wheats. They came into the house at the behest of my older brother, who was also the epicure who got our family hooked on Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. One morning, as I looked across the table with my Lucky Charms in front of me, I watches as he drizzled honey on those sturdy flakes of whole grain. When he splashed milk across them, the honey clung to each flake tenaciously. The milk never stood a chance of creating a soggy mess like the one I had left in front of me.
The next morning, I followed my older brother's recipe and found the experience a revelation. No crunch berries or marshmallow bits, but a thundering mouthful of sweetness that made me feel like I was doing something good for myself. It may have been a Pyrrhic victory, but I used that momentum to reconsider all my choices through the veil of "healthy."
With raisins. They're nature's candy.