I was recently inspired to have a little fun with a Super Bowl dessert, so I bought a box of Cocoa Krispies and made Cocoa Krispies treats that I molded into little footballs. When you combine butter, marshmallows, and cereal, it’s bound to be a hit. The shape of the footballs for the big game (and the icing for the “laces”) was just a bonus. My young kids could barely believe how scrumptious this simple treat was.
That’s when it occurred to me: They had never tasted Cocoa Krispies. In fact, I probably hadn’t even eaten them myself in decades. My mind started to spiral as I thought back to my childhood and all the sugary, wonderful cereal we ate to start off our day. I realized that my kids won’t have these memories since we keep things (relatively) healthy for them. Does this mean I’m depriving them of happy, sugar-fueled mornings, staring at fun characters on the fronts of boxes while shoveling marshmallows and crunchy shapes into their faces, leaving behind brown or rainbow-colored milk in the bowl? They’ll hardly have that memory with the oatmeal or yogurt and fruit that they eat now.
I scrounged up an impressive list of cereals that practically defined my childhood — as well as the childhoods of most people I know. We all turned out just fine, right?
14. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
The little cinnamon and sugar squares are simply delightful in a bowl of cold milk. And unlike some other cereals, they don’t get gross when they become mushy. We can convince ourselves that these have some health benefit because they’re made of whole grain, but mostly we just can’t resist the combination of cinnamon and sugar. It’s a winner every time. (Hello, walk by a Cinnabon lately??)
13. Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries
The original Cap’n Crunch doesn’t hold a candle to Crunch Berries. Remember when your parents would accidentally come home with plain old Cap’n Crunch? How could anyone eat such a thing, when those perfectly fruity and tart berries were just begging to be eaten? Things got a little weird when Quaker Oats made the berries different colors. I was happy with red, but I tend to be a purist.
12. Apple Jacks
Yet another cereal that’s somehow supposed to make us think we’re eating some kind of fruit. You probably can’t find real fruit within a mile of a box of Apple Jacks, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. The hint of cinnamon totally makes this cereal a hit. And the milk that’s left behind is particularly yummy, right?
11. Fruity Pebbles
I think many people were drawn in by the Flinstones characters on the box. (Would kids today even know who Fred and Barney are??) These little “pebbles” tend to get soggy very quickly in milk, but my husband calls them “spoonfuls of sugary joy.”
10. Cocoa Krispies
You still get the fun “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” sounds, but you get it with a dose of chocolate and sugar. It kind of doesn’t get much better than that.
9. Corn Pops
My father used to refer to these as Sugar Pops, since that is what they were called when he was a kid. I just loved how sweet they were and how they straddled the line between crunchy and chewy somehow. No doubt they don’t straddle any lines with “healthy breakfast,” but that was hardly a concern when we were kids.
8. Lucky Charms
To this day, Lucky Charms remains my downfall. Superman has kryptonite, I have Lucky Charms. And they ARE magically delicious. I am not ashamed to say that these were one of my cravings during pregnancy and I ate far too many bowls during that second trimester. Nonetheless, I remain committed to the original shapes in the box: hearts, stars, diamonds, moons, and clovers. Remember how big of a deal it was when they added rainbows? And then red balloons? Now they have pots of gold and shooting stars. All unnecessary — just give me my bowl of marshmallows (with the occasional oat piece) and I’ll be happy.
Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids. Even if you never ate this cereal, you knew about that silly rabbit (and his high jinks) all too well. It’s another corn-based cereal that is supposed to taste fruity. But so was every other cereal. We bought this for that bunny.
6. Raisin Bran
Whenever we had this cereal, it was because our parents thought they were doing something good for us by giving us healthy bowls full of bran and raisins. In reality, this has just as much sugar as the rest of them. But how good and chewy are those spoonfuls of raisins?
5. Frosted Mini-Wheats
Who didn’t love those commercials with the little frosted wheat characters, jumping into bowls of milk? These are best while the sugar is still intact (and hasn’t disappeared into the milk). But then, once you get it in your mouth, you need to suck that milk out first and then chew. This is for optimal flavor and crunch.
4. Frosted Flakes
It’s a good thing that Tony the Tiger gave us Frosted Flakes, because I had to resort to sprinkling entire teaspoonfuls of sugar on my regular Corn Flakes. Tony saved the day.
3. Cocoa Puffs
Were you cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Who wasn’t? It was chocolate cereal. It didn’t take much to convince anyone really…
2. Cookie Crisp
It’s unclear whether our parents actually cared about our health, since they gave us cereal bowls full of chocolate chip cookies. Who can think that this is a good way to start the day? Don’t get me wrong: as a kid, I thought this was an excellent way to start the day, but I was eight…
1. Froot Loops
It wasn’t until I sat down to find all of these cereals that I realized that Froot Loops isn’t actually spelled with the word “fruit.” That is because in reality, there is no fruit anywhere to be found. It’s genius, actually–Kellogg’s makes you somehow think you’re eating fruit but doesn’t need to back that up since it doesn’t even spell out the word. Very clever, Toucan Sam.