I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow. Exactly what I had for breakfast today. When my baby teeth first grew in, Mom began feeding me Cheerios, and I’ve breakfasted upon them daily ever since. In my 50-plus years of life, I’ve gobbled billions. “CheeriOats,” the first ready-to-eat oat cereal, was invented by General Mills in 1941. The name was changed to  “Cheerios” in 1945. By 1951, it was the company’s top-selling cold cereal. All I can say is, Thank God I was born in the 1950s and not in some earlier decade when my favorite cereal wasn’t yet available.

Nowadays, there is a staggering variety of Cheerios on the market. Multigrain. Fruity Cheerios. Banana Nut.  Even Chocolate Cheerios! Although I believe in my heart that the Chocolate Cheerio is an abomination, the company can bring out Tofu Cheerios, or Bubble Gum Cheerios, or even Nacho Cheese Cheerios, for all I care.

As long as they don’t stop making the original.

Sure, I’m addicted. So what?  If you binge on Cheerios, you won’t wreck your marriage or lose your job. Eat an entire box and you won’t get sick or pass out. You won’t even get fat. The worst thing you’ll get is 700 percent of your daily requirement of folic acid.

As a skinny kid, I enjoyed my Cheerios with whole milk. When I became a weight-conscious teen, I switched to skim milk.  In my twenties, I abandoned milk completely. These days, breakfast is a bowl of dry Cheerios and a mug of strong black coffee. With that under my belt, I can face whatever the day decides to throw at me.

What happens when I travel? Last March I took five Ziploc bags of Cheerios to Aruba, one for each morning of my vacation.  I can only imagine what the airport screeners thought as my suitcase glided by, containing nothing but swimsuits, sandals, and thousands of tiny O’s. Our hotel offered an elaborate buffet breakfast, with waffles, pancakes, omelets, and every other delicious breakfast food imaginable.

I never went near it.

In my thirties, I lived in Paris for a year.  The only bad thing about living in the City of Light is that you can’t stroll down to the corner épicerie and grab a box of Cheerios. I was forced to make do with freshly baked baguettes and scrumptious pastry from the patisserie down the block. While these genuine Parisian breakfasts were delicious, I was elated when, exploring the city one day, I stumbled upon a small store selling nothing but American foodstuffs.  Holding my breath, I scanned the shelves. Crunch bars.  Ovaltine.  Frosted Flakes. And . . . Cheerios! They were slightly stale. And ludicrously expensive. (Nine dollars for a small box!) Nevertheless, I purchased the entire supply.

Paris is where other women learn gourmet cooking. It’s where I learned that if you place stale Cheerios on a flat baking sheet in a 250-degree oven for three minutes, they’ll taste almost fresh.

It’s been more than 50 years since I tasted my first Cheerio. I’ve since grown up, attended college and then law school, gotten married, had a son, gotten divorced, and switched careers. Every single thing in my life has changed. Completely.

Except for breakfast.

I’ll grow old eating Cheerios. As long as I have teeth, I’ll gobble them. When I lose my teeth, I will gum them. If I die after breakfast, Cheerios be my last meal. And when I get to heaven, there’d better be a big bowl waiting for me.

If not, I’ll know I’m in hell.    

Photo Credit: culpfiction via Flickr

 

Still feeling her Cheerios: “Go Power” commercial from the 1950s.


  • Tricia September 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I started eating cheerios on my High Chair Tray as a baby…When I was a child from the time I could feed myself I ate them with 2% Milk in a bowl. In my mid-twenties becoming more health conscious I switched to Skim Milk with my cheerios, sometimes with fruit. I’m now in my late 40’s lately thinking of going to 1% to add healthy fats back into my diet. Also thinking about making cereal bars with cheerios but I never ever put sugar on them… Only thing to ever touch my Cheerios is Milk and/or Fruit or straight out of the box…They were the first dry cereal I ever fed my beautiful Daughters as babies as breakfast or anytime snack, they love them too. Thanks General Mills for making them perfect just the way they are!!

    Reply
  • roz warren September 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Liz I would welcome that.

    Reply
  • Liz September 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Roz!

    I work with the team at Cheerios on connecting with people through their Facebook page. I think this community would really love and be inspired by the story you shared here. Would you be ok with us posting this to our wall? We would be sure to credit you, of course. Let me know what you think.

    Thanks,
    Liz

    Reply
  • Lori July 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Roz’s article struck a chord with me. Cheerios and milk got me through the first summer in my house, when it was not air conditioned. Cheerios and milk were also my go-to snack when I was pregnant. Immediately after I gave birth, I was told I could eat anything I wanted. I asked for some Cheerios and milk.

    Reply
  • Isabella July 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Have you tried Cheerios in your trail mix? Or is it strictly a breakfast thing? My favorite time to eat Cheerios is before bed.

    Reply
  • Just One Boomer July 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    People, Roz’ second favorite food is —wait for it—broccoli! What she has also not shared is that I suspect that Cheerios are her muse.

    When I was a child, I had a Campbell’s chicken noodle soup phase. It was my favorite breakfast. We lived in Mexico for a year in 1963-64. I was nine when we arrived. I was in gastronomic agony until we had to drive to Texas to renew our permission to stay in Mexico after six months. We returned to San Miguel de Allende with several cases of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. The difference between me and Roz is that I outgrew my phase.

    Reply
  • Mark Lowe July 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Wonderful!

    Reply
  • jody July 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Oh Roz! You and your cheerios. A true love affair!

    Reply
  • jgolden08 July 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I love this essay, but I hate Cheerios. I’d rather cut up my shoes and eat ’em than have a bowl of that stuff. Sure, I tried it and that plaster dust taste just didn’t do it for me. But Roz, you can stop over for a bowl any time you like because my husband has that same (weird) addiction.

    Reply

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