Baby boomers and breakfast cereals

If the rest of the world wonders at American behavior, they need look no further than the breakfast table. What other nation would serve its children chocolate-coated puff balls in the morning?

While surfing the Web, I came across a site that carried me back to the cereal aisles of my youth.

The site is called Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide, and it offers descriptions and histories of such famed cereal pitchmen as Dig'em Frog, Count Chocula, and the Trix Rabbit. Mention the last to any baby boomer, and he or she will shout on cue: "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!"

Scary, isn't it? What's scarier is that cereal companies have used cartoon characters as marketing tools since the 1960s.

Remember Quisp? The Quaker Oats people introduced what Topher's describes as a "pink-skinned, propeller-driven alien in a green jumpsuit" in the mid-'60s, in commercials on Saturday morning TV. The appeal of Quisp "Quazy Energy Cereal" has never waned, and the brand is still in limited distribution. Three boxes can be ordered for $17.99 from www.foodlocker.com.

I wonder what adult still has an appetite for Quisp, which even as a child I found teeth-numbingly sweet. Nostalgia is at work here, although the tastes we think we remember often don't measure up.

I'm certain, however, that one bite of those "pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers" in Lucky Charms would remind me of mornings when I had to go to school despite not having studied for a math quiz.

My brother might be interested in reacquainting his taste buds with Quisp, but he was more of a Frankenberry kind of guy.

E-mail the Homefront at home@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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