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Sweetened cardboard: Breakfast of champs

While my whole life doesn't "revolve around cereal and Superman," as George Costanza once said of his pal Jerry Seinfeld, I have been known to get my crunch on.

In fact, I've got an open vending machine-size container of Lucky Charms on my desktop right now, steeping in 2 percent, heading toward a perfect balance between soggy and crispy.

Being at this elevated level of cereal consciousness probably had something to do with me spotting an article on Time's NewsFeed while surfing the Web for column ideas. "Breaking Breakfast News," the headline began, "Froot Loops Are All the Same Flavor"

Just because the "froot" is colored cherry red, lemon yellow, lime green, orange orange, grape purple and blueberry blue, it doesn't mean they were each given separate artificial fruit flavorings by the good folks at Kellogg's.  I guess that's why they call it froot instead of fruit.

Kellogg's describes its product as being "packed with delicious fruity taste, fruity aroma and bright colors," but never claims that it contains more than one "fruity taste."

Last week, the website Foodbeast announced the results of their own blind taste tests on the cereal, which concluded that there were "negligible or no differences" between the colors, which all "taste like mildly sweetened cardboard."  Well, on the plus side, cardboard is high in fiber.

The staff at Foodbeast is doing more than its part to keep the cold cereal industry honest. Last year, they were ready to make Cap'n Crunch walk the plank for not wearing a rank-appropriate uniform. The three rings around the Cap'n's sleeve, they correctly observed, denote the rank of commander, not captain. For some reason, they let the Cap'n's non-regulation Napolean-syle hat slide.

The revelations could make cereal consumers suspicious of the marketing and labeling of their favorite cold breakfast foods. Next thing you know, we'll find out that Golden Grahams don't contain a speck of gold.

Meanwhile, General Mills announced earlier this month that it would soon begin marketing Cheerios without the use of genetically modified grains.

It seemed like a pretty big deal until I found out that oats, the primary ingredient in Cheerios, have so far not been produced in a genetically modified form. While General Mills admits it will be using the same old oats it has always used, the cereal maker said it would have to make sure that the trace amounts of cornstarch and corn syrup it uses in making Cheerios will contain no genetically modified corn.

In a final breaking cereal news item, Quaker is introducing a new line of Cap'n Crunch that's bound to cause a mutiny among nutritionists.

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch is already appearing on supermarket shelves in selected cities.  The new cereal raises an intriguing question:

Do you serve it with milk or coffee?


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