By Joel van der Veen
Along with his obsession with cleanliness, lack of empathy, and inability to stick with the same girlfriend for longer than one week, a personality trait of Jerry Seinfeld’s character on Seinfeld was his love for breakfast cereal.
Throughout the series, his kitchen shelf was stocked with boxes. He was even shown to occasionally order the stuff in restaurants.
This characteristic, much like his infatuation for Superman, was cited as evidence of Seinfeld’s immaturity. If we’re being honest with ourselves, though, it’s a trait many of us share.
Okay, maybe we don’t love cold cereal, but it’s still a regular habit for plenty of people. It’s a quick way to start the day and fill up on vitamins and nutrients.
Lately I’ve been kicking my days off with a bowl of Raisin Bran or Special K, usually the variety with the freeze-dried strawberries inside. While I typically opt for the healthier brands, I’ll occasionally treat myself with Mini Wheats, Frosted Flakes or, when I’m feeling especially wicked, Lucky Charms.
I suspect it’s a remnant of my childhood mentality. In our household, such products were on par with Coke, ice cream and Wendy’s hamburgers, all right as a special treat but generally verboten.
My mom’s parents, who lived near Mount Brydges, Ont., would always have a couple of “Fun Paks” — eight-packs of mini cereal boxes — ready when we visited, so I might get to enjoy the taste of Froot Loops or Corn Pops three weekends a year.
Mom and Dad were surprisingly hardline when it came to cereal. We were even instructed to mix Honey Nut Cheerios with regular Cheerios to dilute the sweetness somewhat.
Over the years, they eased up on this crucial issue. By the time I was in high school we’d sometimes find Cinnamon Toast Crunch waiting for us in the pantry.
If my brother was really hungry, he’d grab a large bowl normally used to serve salad and fill that up as an after-school snack. I’d stick with the regular-sized bowls, but Dad would still protest. “Cereal is a meal,” he’d say.
I’ve never been a fan of chocolate-flavoured cereals like Count Chocula or Reese’s Puffs. The flavour is simply overwhelming, and leftover milk is unappetizing enough without that sickly-sweet, chocolatey tinge to it.
There are other cereals that have never appealed to me. I’ll admit I’ve never tasted Product 19, but the name sounds more like some sort of radioactive element, rather than something wholesome you’d want to feed to your family.
Some folks have left cereal behind as a relic of their youth, but it’s a habit I suspect I won’t be able to quit — not, as Seinfeld would say, that there’s anything wrong with it.
Joel van der Veen can be reached at 691-1256.