When I was entering grade school in the late ’50s, breakfast cereal was established as the standard first meal of the day for young’uns. There was some vague haze about how it was healthier than bacon and eggs, but since both my parents worked I saw through that even as a kid. The key selling point was that it was a helluva lot quicker and more convenient than a real cooked meal (even, yargh, oatmeal). After all, this was a time when a can of Pepsi was considered better for you than a cup of coffee. (Certainly tasted better than the wretched coffee of the day. Bet they serve Folger’s in Hades.) After we got a TV, the incessant cereal ads planted the concept of brainwashing in my head. So, although I was disgusted, I was not surprised when cereal gradually dropped the pretenses to health and became out and out candy sold by cartoon characters. (Among the cartoon icons I’ve always hated — pure rip-off artists. And I must note that the first smash-hit cereal spokescharacter, “Sunny Jim,” was among the creepiest at the start. Real Howdy-Doody roots.) So the history of cereal is worth learning. And moreover, I remain appalled that the industry continues with the same moral indifference that tobacco companies used as they cash in on trends.
Toucan Sam — into the grave with Joe Camel!