Cereals have killer effects

March 11, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

To gauge the effect of massive doses of sugar on human physiology, an experiment was conducted recently in which this writer sampled a total of 13 cereals marketed primarily for children.

A maximum of three spoonfuls of each cereal was consumed; the cumulative effects were recorded in the journal below:

7 a.m. -- Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. Veteran spokescat Tony the Tiger ("They're Gr-r-reat!") grins fetchingly from the box as I dive into a bowl of the familiar flakes of corn, lightly splashed with milk.

There is a quiet sense of anticipation as the body braces itself for that jangled feeling that accompanies sucrose overload. It won't be long now.

7:03 -- Ralston Cookie-Crisp. Starting the day with a chocolate chip-flavored cereal seems the equivalent to snapping an ammonia capsule under your nose upon awakening.

But the box assures it's both nutritious ("Provides 9 Essential Vitamins and Minerals") and fun to eat ("Free Trollasaurus Inside!").

The trollasaurus is a huge disappointment, squat and unattractive. As for the cereal's effect, it feels as if I've just received a very brisk scalp massage.

7:07 -- Quaker Cap'n Crunch. We go for the trifecta here: a spoonful of regular Cap'n Crunch, and one spoonful each of Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch and Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries.

Quietly I mull the brain teaser on the box ("What Makes Cap'n Crunch So Good, Crunchy and FUN?").

My hands are trembling lightly.

7:09 -- General Mills Lucky Charms. It seems like only yesterday that the Surgeon General reported most children weren't getting enough marshmallow in their diets -- and not just the kids in Appalachia, either.

Thankfully, the smiling Lucky Charms leprechaun indicates those days are over ("Now There's A Sprinkling O' Marshmallow On Every Cereal Piece!").

Yummy. I notice my leg is jiggling.

7:13 -- General Mills Golden Grahams. Hey, if your childhood was anything like mine, most mornings you'd sit down to a typical breakfast of bacon, eggs and a big helping of graham crackers.

Well, the Health Gestapo cracked down on cholesterol, so there goes the bacon and eggs. But what better way to recapture these precious memories than with a cereal that just oozes graham cracker goodness?

Yes, I'm talking to you!

After two spoonfuls, I find myself picking furiously at a small scab on my elbow.

7:16 -- Kellogg's Froot Loops. How can you not love a cereal that claims to have: "All-Natural Fruit Flavors?" Yep, knock back a spoonful of the bright red, green and orange loops and it's like walking through a Florida citrus grove.

You can almost feel the vitamin C coursing through your system.

As I examine the back panel ("Free In Mail Nintendo Paint Brush!"), my wife taps my shoulder, startling me. I whirl around with a butter knife in one hand. She retreats from the kitchen, wide-eyed.

Is there a phone ringing somewhere?

7:20 -- Post Fruity Pebbles. No question, the Peter Maxish color scheme ("Now! With Berry Blue Pebbles") is the come-on here. The Post marketing team has also trotted out endorsement heavyweights Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.

Well, that clinches it. If it's good enough for Fred and Barney, it's good enough for . . . funny, can't seem to sit still.

Maybe I'll do a little light vacuuming in the living room.

7:30 -- Kellogg's Cinnamon Mini-Rolls. One spoonful of cinnamon bun-shaped oats and I toss the vacuum cleaner in the corner and start cleaning the windows. After this we'll change the transmission fluid in the car.

Is it me or is it warm in here?

7:40 -- Post Alpha-Bits. Mother of God! I look down and scream -- letter-shaped corn cereal in my bowl suddenly spells out: Paul is dead.

Perspiring heavily now. Heart beating like a trip-hammer. This stuff really gets you going!

Can someone please pick up that phone? Hey, I'm asking nicely.

7:44 -- General Mills Cocoa Puffs. Inane slogan ("Bet You'll Go Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs!") playing on an endless loop in my head as I knock back three spoonfuls.

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, Cuckoo for . . . whew. Steady now. This is no time to lose it.

I . . . I just stood and rammed my head into the wall. Don't know why. It felt good, too.

7:49 -- The experiment ends. Results are inconclusive. Body processes seem a tad accelerated: small tufts of hair are falling out of my head.

Still, I suspect more data are needed.

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