If You Are What You Eat, Then I Am a Cheerio

Roz Warren


March 7th is National Cereal Day!

I celebrated with Cheerios.

When my baby teeth first grew in, Mom began feeding me Cheerios, and I’ve breakfasted upon them daily ever since. In my 68 years of life, I’ve gobbled billions.

“CheeriOats,” the first ready-to-eat oat cereal, was invented by General Mills in 1941. The name was changed to “Cheerios” in 1945. By 1951, it was the company’s top-selling cold cereal.

All I can say is, Thank God I was born in the 1950s and not in some earlier decade when my favorite cereal wasn’t yet available.

Nowadays, there is a staggering variety of Cheerios on the market. Multigrain. Fruity Cheerios. Banana Nut. Even Chocolate Cheerios! Although I believe in my heart that the Chocolate Cheerio is an abomination, the company can bring out Tofu Cheerios, or Bubble Gum Cheerios, or even Nacho Cheese Cheerios, for all I care.

As long as they don’t stop making the original.

Sure, I’m addicted. So what? If you binge on Cheerios, you won’t wreck your marriage or lose your job. Eat an entire box and you won’t get sick or pass out. You won’t even get fat.

The worst thing you’ll get is 700 percent of your daily requirement of folic acid.

As a skinny kid, I enjoyed my Cheerios with whole milk. When I became a weight-conscious teen, I switched to skim. In my twenties, I abandoned milk completely. These days, breakfast is a bowl of dry Cheerios, and a mug of strong black coffee. With that under my belt, I can face whatever the day decides to throw at me.

What happens when I travel?

The last time I visited Aruba, I took five Ziploc bags of Cheerios, one for each morning of my vacation. I can only imagine what the airport screeners thought as my suitcase glided by, containing nothing but swimsuits, sandals, and thousands of tiny O’s. Our hotel offered an elaborate buffet breakfast, with waffles, pancakes, omelets, and every other delicious breakfast food imaginable.

I never went near it.

In my thirties, I lived in Paris for a year. The only bad thing about living in the City of Light is that you can’t stroll down to the corner épicerie and grab a box of Cheerios. I was forced to make do with freshly baked baguettes and scrumptious pastry from the patisserie down the block.

While these genuine Parisian breakfasts were delicious, I was elated when, exploring the city one day, I stumbled upon a small store selling nothing but American foodstuffs. Holding my breath, I scanned the shelves. Crunch bars. Ovaltine. Frosted Flakes. And . . . Cheerios!

They were slightly stale. And ludicrously expensive. (Nine dollars for a small box!) Nevertheless, I purchased the entire supply.

Paris is where other women learn gourmet cooking. It’s where I learned that if you place stale Cheerios on a flat baking sheet in a 250-degree oven for three minutes, they’ll taste almost fresh.

It’s been more than 60 years since I tasted my first Cheerio. I’ve since grown up, attended college and then law school, gotten married, had a son, gotten divorced, and switched careers. Every single thing in my life has changed. Completely.

Except for breakfast.

I plan to grow old eating Cheerios. As long as I have teeth, I’ll gobble them. When I lose my teeth, I will gum them. If I die after breakfast, Cheerios be my last meal. And when I get to heaven, there’d better be a big bowl waiting for me.

If not, I’ll know I’m in hell.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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