THE CEREAL AISLE REVISITED

May 7 , 2024 /

THE CEREAL AISLE REVISITED

I read an interview and printed conversation between David Remnick and Jerry Seinfeld just prior to the May 3 release of “UNFROSTED”. I watched and enjoyed the movie. I liked the interview as much or more than the movie and here is the link to the New Yorker article, if you want to read it.

 

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-scholar-of-comedy

 

All of that took me back to a post I wrote almost 2 years ago. I reference Seinfeld and one of his famous episodes.  More evidence of seeing life “FROM BOTH SIDES NOW”.   Herewith, for your reading pleasure.

 

This is not like the Jerry Seinfeld piece on Raisinets but it’s close and may have inspired me to write this expose.  Jerry wondered why it had taken 80 years to put chocolate on raisins. As I was contemplating the cereal aisle at my Safeway grocery store in Nogales, AZ,  I looked at how many choices we’re exposed to and came up with something close to 500.  Five hundred different choices of dry cereal!  Think of that.  In a world of too much, this is one more too much.  It is the conspicuous part of consumption.

 

The cereal aisle in my grocery store, with boxes on five shelves, is about 70 feet in length.  The average size of a box of Cheerios is about 8 inches.  You also have different sizes of boxes from the Family Size large, to the smaller, more narrower boxes that take up less room.  You may already know what you’re looking for and where to find it because it’s your favorite cereal.  Brands are often clumped together, proximity for marketing.

 

My grandmother’s favorite cereal was Post Toasties.  She knew what it was by that brand name.  It was named for the founder, C.W. Post and was really just corn flakes but Post’s version of corn flakes were called Post Toasties. Kellogg’s corn flakes are called Corn Flakes.  Post Toasties were discontinued in 2016.  I was glad my grandmother wasn’t around to see the demise of her favorite cereal. I doubt she would have switched to Kellogg’s.  She was loyal to her brand.

 

Breakfast cereals in earlier times did not have so many choices with sugar added and once the kids got a taste of those, you could see what Mom was putting in the cart to keep the kids happy and quiet.  I have seen more than one kid having a temper tantrum because he wanted what he wanted in the cereal aisle.  Makes me wonder who’s in charge.

 

In a two-part study, researchers confirmed that the cereals targeting children are placed about 23 inches off the ground and those aimed at adults 48 inches high. After studying 65 cereals and 86 “spokes-characters” they found the cereals on the top shelves have characters staring straight ahead or slightly up to make eye contact with adults. For the lower boxes with cartoon characters with large inviting eyes, the gaze is focused slightly downward, to create eye contact with children.

 

One of my favorite cereals is Grape Nuts. No pictures on the box, no eyes staring at me. Here’s a conundrum.  Those are neither grapes nor nuts so why the name?  Grape Nuts is made of wheat and barley. It was created in 1897 by Charles William “C.W.” Post, who used a coffee grinder to turn a flat sheet of the baked cereal into tiny kernels that resembled grape seeds (or nuts). And there you have it.

Grape-Nuts sponsored Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s 1933 expedition to Antarctica, which resulted in the first two-way radio transmission. Maps of Admiral Byrd’s expedition appeared on Grape-Nuts boxes at the time.  During World War II, Grape-Nuts were included in the Allied Forces jungle rations on missions to Panama and various other tropical locations. And, in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay brought Grape-Nuts along on their trek to the peak of Mount Everest when they became the first to reach the mountain’s summit.

In 2021,  I could not find Grape Nuts and did not know that due to production issues as well as the “supply chain” problems caused by the Covid 19 Pandemic, Grape-Nuts were temporarily discontinued before returning in October, 2021. I just figured the stores weren’t selling enough and quit carrying them.

Another of my favorite go to morning cereals is oatmeal with fruit, a dollop of maple syrup and a little milk, oat milk.  I have a friend who cuts small pieces of apples to put on her oatmeal.  I switch it up on occasion and pour a bowl of muesli or some other healthy flakes like flax with pumpkin seed.

We could get into the subject of private labeling but that’s another story for another time, Signature for Safeway and Albertson’s, Kirkland for Costco, Great Value for Walmart. Member’s Mark for Sam’s Club.  Then we have Whole Foods 365, referring to days in a year, Trader Joe’s and Sprouts with their own name labels, all products made by other companies.  And what about all those “better if used by” dates on the boxes of cereals?  Do you ever think about these things or care?  Just curious me. Do you eat cereal?  What’s your favorite?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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