Yesterday morning, already more than half an hour late for work, I hurriedly ate a bowl of Cheerios while leaning up against the kitchen counter.  At the bottom of the bowl, I chased the the last three uncooperative O’s around in half-circle, eventually convincing them to board the spoon.  I tipped the green bowl up to my mouth to finish off the milk and managed to dripple only slightly down my front.

Cheerios was the cereal of my childhood.  There was always at least one open big yellow box, either on top of the fridge, in a cabinet or perched on a window sill, as well as an unopened one, waiting in reserve.  When my sister and I were just starting to learn to eat things that crunched, my mom would throw a handful of O’s onto the tray of the high chair, and let us go at them with our mediocre motor skills.  As we got older, they remained the snack du jour.  Need a treat for the movies?  A baggie of Cheerios would appear from my mom’s purse.  Need a craft project?  While not as colorful as Fruit Loops, Cheerios made nice, non-sticky bracelets and necklaces.  Craving a nibble before bed?  A handful, straight out of the box (my mom actually still does this, almost every night.  They are surprisingly good this way).

In the mornings before elementary school, Raina and I would fight over who got to read the back of the box while eating.  The really good days were when we were allowed to drizzle a little honey on our O’s to make them sweet. Sugar cereals were better known as birthday cereals in our house, because we were only allowed one box a year, picked out the day or two before a birthday.  You were required to let your sister have at least one bowl of your birthday cereal, the rest was all for you.

When eating a bowl of cereal during my childhood, it was well known that the milk was the protein part of the cereal experience, and that you better finish every drop.  Bad things could happen to kids who didn’t get enough protein.  In college I was shocked to discover that some people didn’t finish the milk at the bottom of their bowl.  My roommate Meghan would always douse her cereal with milk, and then very carefully select spoonfuls that included as little milk as possible.  When all the cereal was done, the leftover milk would go down the drain.  I’d like to say that I watched in silence, but I’ve never been good at silence (especially when scandalized).  I made a comment once, wondering why she poured her milk down the drain, and wasn’t it just the tiniest bit wasteful?  She looked at me with surprise and possibly just a little bit of annoyance and said, “I don’t like the milk” and left it at that.  Meghan and I didn’t always see eye to eye.

If you have a childhood cereal memory, please feel free to share.

0 thoughts on “Cheerio(s)

  1. Ellen

    Cheerios – plain yellow box not-generic Cheerios, is my all time favorite cereal. No adding sugar either. And I love the straight-from-the-box way of eating them too. Also good in tomato soup (made with milk, NOT water)!

    Good times and smiles – that’s what I like about your posts 🙂

  2. Mark

    My memories are very close to yours. Our special one time of year for sugared cereal was the first day of school which, looking back on it, didn’t make much sense (my mom was probably just trying to avoid as much morning crying as she could). Then it was back to the Cheerios (and Chex and Rice Crispies and Corn Flakes, but Cheerios were always available).

    Cheerios were also my after-school snack and my go-to meal when I didn’t like what was being served for dinner (which was too often).

    I still make sure we have Cheerios in the cabinet. If we have bananas in the house, chances are at least one of them is going to end up in a bowl of Cheerios.

  3. Marisa

    Mark, I totally forgot to mention them as the dinner alternative. I remember eating them on more than one occasion for dinner, mostly on leftover nights, when I was completely uninterested in the the variety of random meal options available to me.

  4. albert

    never was a fan of the yellow box, i liked my cereal loaded with sugar. growing up, i think my favorite was golden grahms. when i got older, honey bunches of oats (honey roasted) became my staple. but lately, i love whole foods vanilla crunch granola.

    and i love me some cereal as a stand in for all meals: breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, dinner, late night – it’s perfect!

  5. Amber

    I think we grew up in the same “no-sugar cereal” house. Lots of cheerios and shredded wheat (not the little squares, the huge rectangle). We used to love going to my cousins house just to eat the Cocoa Puffs and PacMan cereals they had there.

    I think Mom knew what she was doing when she decided that eating marshmallow shapes for breakfast was a bad idea. (Honey-Nut cheerios, incidentally, were the sugary treat we were allowed to have from time to time).

    BTW – came here on Seadragon’s recommendation – love your blog! 🙂

  6. Marisa

    Albert, I’m a sucker for anything vanilla flavored, so I bet I’d love that granola as well.

    Amber, we got to have the Honey-Nut Cheerios once in a while as well, but it was fairly rare. I’m so glad you stopped by on Seadragon’s recommendation, and that you’re enjoying yourself. Please feel free to come by any time!

  7. Tom Kim

    I, too, can’t stand leaving any milk. I don’t like slurping the milk at the end, though, so I end up pouring more and more cereal in to finish up the bowl. I inevitably end up feeling like there’s a bowling ball of grain in my stomach when I’m done.

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned the value of smaller bowls.

  8. Katey Schultz

    more food blogs. i love it. 🙂
    i’ll reply to your email soon. now i’m taking forever…
    thanks for your comments. i felt proud about the mechanic thing, too, and i’m glad you shared in that. can you IMAGINE? ugh! i put the check in his mailbox this morning with a typed, brief letter, leaving my phone number if he wanted to call. i thought he might call to object but he didn’t so what’s done is done and i saved $400.

  9. Kate

    I only ever ate sugar cereals at other people’s houses. For me, it was (and is) Cheerios all the way. Love them. In fact, I think I had them for dinner more than once during the past week…

  10. Neil

    I’m embarrassed to say my parents were pretty lenient with my cereal choices, and I loved Lucky Charms. Now, they just taste like oversweetened junk.

  11. raina rosie

    i ate handfulls of cheerios with mom just the other night. everytime i go down the cereal aisle, i still want the reese’s peanut butter puffs…YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY!!!!

  12. Dodi

    My parents were either all about health food or completely into junk. Except soda, that was reserved for holidays and special sleep overs. We ate a lot of home-made granola and oatmeal and then suddenly we’d be allowed to get Rice Crispies or Life. We secretly dumped a lot of sugar on the Rice Crispies when my mom’s back was turned.

  13. tallglassofvino

    Loved Lucky Charms, too, but my big hankering was for Corn Puffs – those giant, yellow, supersweety puffs that I’d let get just a wee-bit soggy (not too much!) before wolfing them down.

    And I read the entire ceral box over, and over, and over…

  14. craige

    I’m quite surprised to learn that I was not the only freak who only got sugar cereal on her birthday. I was still not allowed to eat it for breakfast, however. It was for dessert only. I chose Golden Grahams for years. Nowadays I very rarely eat cold cereal in the a.m. (love all varieties of hot cereal though, unsweetened), but I do like having a box of Fruit Loops or Puffins around to snack on in the evening.


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