Reinventing Breakfast

RICK HOROWITZ

September 27, 1993|By RICK HOROWITZ

Getting into the spirit of things, I am reinventing breakfast. It was the only logical choice. Reinventing government was already taken. Reinventing the staple gun was beyond me. But breakfast -- that was something I could handle, not to mention something that strongly impacts nearly everybody.

We reinventing types love to say things like ''strongly impacts.'' It lets people know we're on the job.

For this particular job, reinventing breakfast, I knew I had to get out into the field. I knew I had to meet personally, not just with the big breakfast producers, but also with those millions and millions of other Americans who interface with the breakfast stream every single day.

I've learned an incredible amount from these millions of conversations, I really have, and not just when to say ''interface.'' I've filled notebook after notebook with examples of how our nation's breakfast system has run amok. So now I've got all these findings, and all these recommendations, too.

Of course, the special interests are already lining up against me; they've always done it their way, and they don't see any reason to change. Well, as a woman in the field said to me just the other day, ''Rick, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.''

How true that is!

And speaking of breaking eggs, just look at this: six pages of nothing but egg regs! ''The eggshell shall'' -- shall! -- ''be of a firmness such that dropping said egg onto a 1/2-inch-thick piece of knotty pine from a height of 18 inches shall result in no fewer than six and no more than 11 individual shell fragments, the largest of which shall not exceed -- ''

Do you see what we're up against?

It's even worse with pancakes. I like a good-looking pancake as much as the next guy, but seriously: ''The buttermilk pancake batter shall be poured so as to produce a pancake circular in form, such that an arc drawn from the central point of said pancake and passing through any two points on the circumference of said pancake shall also pass within 1/32 of an inch of all other points on the circumference. The height-to-weight ratio of each pancake shall conform to ''

Fourteen pages of this stuff! No wonder our economy's still in a slump. If people want to make oval pancakes or rectangular pancakes or, yes, even triangular pancakes, I say, ''Go for it!'' Let's turn our great creative energies loose once again.

Why should the waitress in your neighborhood diner have to come back to your table eight times in 20 minutes to refill your coffee cup? Leave the coffee pot on the table when you first sit down, and with all the time she saves, that waitress can go to night school and get a degree.

How often have you poured yourself some cereal, only to find that it's already gone totally soggy? Why can't we provide research incentives for cereal manufacturers to come up with a box liner that actually stays closed?

And how about those fruit growers wasting vital equipment turning out dozens of varieties of orange juice -- ''home-style'' and ''away-from-home-style'' and ''roadside-style'' and all the rest? Since I'm reinventing breakfast, two styles only: ''from concentrate,'' and ''not from concentrate.'' And no pulp. I hate pulp.

I'm barely scratching the surface here, I know; there are plenty more reinventing-breakfast ideas where these came from. Maybe won't get them all through Congress this year, but at least it's a start. With the 21st century just around the corner, I figure it's time we had a breakfast worthy of the American people. That's what I'm working for.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist.

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