Gotta Have My Pops! A Visit Back Down Memory Lane
Conversations around texture always seems to arise during dinner; especially when you are voicing your like or (more importantly) your dislike for a particular dish. Late one evening, we were discussing our childhood memories of cereal over our "grown up" bowls of Kellogg's Special K (I remember when ice cream was a late night snack). We found it hilarious that our taste in food had changed, but our preference for "texture" had not. Why is texture so important? Well, that is a question that can spark a very deep conversation; so we will save that for another blog. In short, texture is a very important characteristic in everything we eat. To us, it is even more important than taste. A food’s texture can be described as dry, crunchy, chewy, juicy, hard, soft, creamy, moist, and the list goes on and on. In summary, it is a major factor in how we decide which foods we eat before we actually eat them. We are serious about texture!
This discussion on breakfast cereals lead to an even deeper discussion that ultimately proved that our preferences in food (and their textures) were developed in all of us at a very early age. Our despise for things "soggy" and overly "creamy" have shaped not only our current eating habits but also determines whether or not we are willing to try something. Cereal in our families, as in many others, was always readily available. It became a food to be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Especially in college when you needed something quick; or HELL you just didn't feel like cooking anything. It acted as a meal replacement in some cases. Through the years, we have tried just about every cereal in the market.
On one particular evening, as my husband (Urban Girl speaking) drowned his Special K in 1% milk, I looked in amazement and could only imagine how disgusting it would be when those crispy little flakes lost their firmness...lol! Side note: I hated 1% or 2% milk and swore to only drink whole milk when I was younger; now I can't stand the stuff. I have always eaten my bowls of cereal in small portions and this was not because I was watching my weight. I had it all figured out...I knew exactly how much time it took for my cereal to go from crunchy to flimsy. Hence, the smaller the portion, the less chance it had to go all wrong. I was never into the really fruity cereals or those that had tons of those chalk-tasting marshmallows. You will find that those didn't make my cut (ex. Lucky Charms, Apple Jacks, Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles...you get it). For me, the cereals I loved were either:
1. Hard, firm, or crispy
2. Had chocolate as the main ingredient
Usually, we are pretty close in our opinions when it comes to most things food; but our obsession with texture is where it ends with this post. After reviewing Urban Girls' list of cereal I (Swanky Girl) was wondering, who is this chick and what has she done with my friend. I was speechless to find out our favorites were so different. The cereal I loved growing up had to follow 3 rules:
1. I had to like the taste
2. They could not get soggy fast (so you know Rice Krispies did not make this cut)
3. They could not cause my milk to completely change colors
That seems pretty simple right??? Well as luck would have it, there were not lots of cereal that really could pass the test! I hated cereal that was too sweet (so Captain Crunch was out of here), I hated any chocolate cereal (too sweet and changed the color of my milk), and depending on the day this list could increase. And as an adult my rules have pretty much stayed the same; but I have since added the cereal as a kid we labeled the "adult cereal" (Grape Nuts and Corn Flakes).
And this ladies and gents takes us to our trip down memory lane. This is where we humor ourselves on the fact that we despise soggy food. Cereal has become such a major part of our lives and we have actually found some great ways to incorporate them into our recipes making them great "adult friendly" treats. For example, Rice Krispies treats (love them), muffins, cereal bars and trail mixes. So, what were your favorites when you were younger? Do you find that your texture preference started as early as ours did?
OUR LIKES and DISLIKES
Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries
This was an easy one. The box says, "stays crunchy even in milk" (I think that may be a red flag for me now). I was sold on this cereal from the beginning. Cap'n Crunch was introduced in 1963 and even with over a dozen variations, I fell in love with the Crunch Berries variety (introduced in 1967). While I enjoyed this cereal I always hoped they would just do away with the corn squares and just give me a box full of the crunch berries! This actually happened in 1997 when Quaker begin to sell their "Oops, All Berries" variety. Unfortunately, this didn't last long as has continued its shorts stints as a "limited time only" item. Boo!
No offense to my girl but, I don't know what the hell Urban Girl is talking about; this was some nasty ass stuff (How do I really feel).They were so sweet that my teeth hurt, the one and only time I ate them.
My dislike for Lucky Charms all boils down to the marshmallow "bits" (AKA pieces of colored chalk). Maybe if the cereal would have come solely with the frosted oats, I could have given them a B. The whole marshmallows and milk combination is a turn off.
These were in my top 3! I love this cereal and the marshmallow treats were my favorite part, the commercials for this cereal are a close 2nd. I also loved the fact that it took a long time before they got soggy. Don't be surprised if you come over for breakfast and see these in my pantry today.
Hard texture. Check. Stays firm in milk. Check. Honeycomb is a cereal that has been around since 1965. I loved eating them and pushing them under the milk to see how fast they would pop back up. What made my day even better was when I would come across one of the "overly baked" honey combs that were a little darker than the others. These had a bit more crisp and flavor and I always sought them out. Funny how that texture things has clearly taken over my life!
Swanky Girl (No Opinion)
I never had these growing up and tasted them for the first time in college. My memory was that I did not hate them, but I did not love them either. So for that reason I will not vote on them.
Sugar Frosted Flakes were introduced in 1952. They were introduced alongside Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Frosted Flakes are pretty much Corn Flakes with sugar on them. Well, that's what we did at my house when we didn't have Frosted Flakes. The same way I eat my Special K today, is the same way I ate Frosted Flakes back then: small portions with very little milk. I won't go near the stuff today, but they were grrreat! I had to do it :-).
Finally we agree on a cereal! I really enjoyed this cereal as a kid and since my mom liked it too there was always some in the house. My preferred method of eating them was topped with fresh cut bananas.
Froot Loops really are not all that bad. I just don't care for fruity cereal. The texture is okay and they tend to not get as soggy in milk. In addition, the milk did not turn colors; which is a huge factor in how I go about eating my cereals.
This was another fave for me. I loved everything about this cereal growing up. I think Urban Girl secretly wants to give it thumbs up!
Don't laugh, but I STILL buy these! OMG! Even though I wished the milk would not turn to that unappealing brown color, they continue to be one of my faves. Strangely, they don't really taste like chocolate. Cocoa Puffs is a brand of chocolate-flavored puffed cereal Introduced in 1958 that is pretty much just small round balls of corn, oats and rice that have been flavored with cocoa. I always relate these back to the Trix (introduced in 1954 and was the first fruit flavored cereal in the market) and/or Kix cereals (they were a bit smaller and minus the chocolate flavoring).
They are chocolate and turned my milk a different color; this is enough for my not to like them. Add in the fact, that the taste was not good to me at all.
Come on; who doesn't like bite sized chocolate chip cookies with milk? This cereal came about in 1977 when Ralston Purina was looking to recreate “the great taste of chocolate chip cookies and milk.” I didn't eat these a lot but they still make my fave list. I am not quite sure if the "chips" were really "chocolate chips". Hmmm...
Cookies for breakfast!!! I was all over the idea of it, but once I added the milk something did not work for me. So I started eating them as a snack without the milk.
Oh yeah baby! Bring on the sweet rice treats! I thought they had me with the original/regular Rice Krispies, but I was sold when the chocolate version entered my world. I remember getting upset with the regular Rice Krispies after adding a pound of sugar on top only to find that it had all made its way to the bottom of my bowl! This left that extra sweet milk that I could not stand. Then came Cocoa Krispies to save the day. No more worries about that sugar. They were great as is. And yes, I would listen to them "snap, crackle, and pop"! The cereal was introduced in the United States in 1958.
"Snap, Crackle, Pop" for me was more like..."Stop, Drop, and Roll " because this cereal was a hot mess! They got soggy as soon as milk hit them; it kinda put you in the mind of what happens to Gizmo, from The Gremlins, when he gets wet. Dare I mention that the sight of brown soggy cereal floating in brown milk is not a good look.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Cinnamon Toast Crunch, first produced in 1984, is known by many names across the world. Cinnamon Grahams or Curiously Cinnamon in the UK, Croque-Cannelle in French Canada, and Cini Minis in certain European countries. Like Cookie Crisps, the aim was to recreate the taste of cinnamon toast in a crunch cereal format. This is probably my second all time favorite next to Cocoa Puffs. Even when this one would get a little soft, it was still good. For some reason the corners remained crunchy :-).
I have to admit that I did not like this cereal with milk! However, I loved it as a snack; the taste was yummy. This cereal is the reason I started sprinkling cinnamon on my toast.
I place Apple Jacks and Froot Loops in the same category. A sugary and overly sweet cereal, however, they were a bit milder. I always thought those weird speckles on the outside of each piece were a bit strange.
This is another one for my faves list. They follow all the rules and as Whitney Houston songs..."I IIIIII will always love you!" These bad boys had me drinking my milk out the bowl.
I've had a love-hate relationship with "Pops". If they stayed in the milk too long, the outside would develop a creamy/soft texture that I was not fond of. This is another one of those "eat it quickly and it is great" cereals. Described as "crunchy sweetened popped-up corn cereal" and originally called Sugar Pops, it was introduced in 1951. The name was changed to Corn Pops in the 1980s; a time when many cereals dropped the word "Sugar" from their titles.
That corn and not to sweet taste were a good combo for me. I did tend to eat this cereal kind of fast, because not only does it start getting soggy but also it starts to get slimy.
Sugar Smacks (Sugar Crisps)
This cereal was introduced in 1953 and has changed names several times as well. It was initially named Sugar Smacks and in 1980 was renamed Honey Smacks. I believe at some point they just started calling them Smacks. Who cares anyway...these "puffed wheat" thingys taste and look disgusting. I know to some of you they are fab, but I'm just sayin'. You know what killed it for me? I'll tell you. When those little wheat pieces would detach themselves from the middle of the cereal and swim around. Enough said.
I did not really dislike the taste of this cereal; but the sogginess factor for this cereal was much to high for me. I like to talk and with this cereal I had to focus on my food and how fast I could eat it!
What were your faves???
As they say, "two heads are better than one", so we bring you the world of food from two unique and interesting viewpoints!
These articles are written by both Felice "Swanky Girl" Sloan and Shanna "Urban Girl" Jones.