Cereal -- the new batter's box

Cal's O's or Albert's flakes? We dig into a bowl to find out.

May 23, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff

Forget the multimillion-dollar contract, the 21-room mansion and the four-wheel-drive Lincoln Navigator in the driveway. The real measure of jock superstardom these days is this: Does the big, sweaty goof have his own breakfast cereal?

Following on the heels of Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie's hugely successful "Flutie Flakes," Cal Ripken's "Cal's Classic O's" and Albert Belle's "Slugger Cereal" are hitting area supermarket shelves. And, like Flutie's cereal, a portion of the sales is earmarked for charity.

Next month, Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa's new cereal, "Slammin' Sammy's," will debut in Chicago. Other ballplayers with their own breakfast brands will include Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners and Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros. Pretty soon, the only guys in the majors without their own cereals will be the batboys.

Here's how Cal's Classic O's and Slugger Cereal compare head-to-head:

* Net weight: Classic O's: 14 ounces. Slugger: 18 ounces. But Slugger must have the density of iron ore; it feels like a doorstop when you lift it into your shopping cart.

* Nutrition facts: Pretty similar, but that's because no one puts out a cereal anymore that announces: "Loaded with sugar and fat!" Both claim just 110 calories for a standard serving size, both are low in fat. Slugger's heavy on the sodium, though: 330 milligrams compared with 180 for the O's. If your feet swell up and your eyes get puffy after a bowl or two, take it up with Albert's attorneys.

* Price: Cal's: $3.79. Albert's: $3.99. Since the price of cereal is now up there with weapons-grade plutonium, both are almost a deal.

* Big-name rip-off factor: Classic O's look and taste just like Honey-Nut Cheerios. Slugger looks and tastes like Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

* Crunchiness index: A dead heat. Both are remarkably crunchy out of the box. We also poured milk on each and left them sitting there until even the dog lost interest, and both managed to retain a large measure of crunchiness.

* Studly jock photo on box: Cal is pictured in a black Orioles jersey smiling broadly while holding -- here's where it gets weird -- a batting helmet filled with Classic O's swimming in milk. (Who eats cereal out of a grimy batting helmet? Well, perhaps we shouldn't go there ...)

There also appear to be shimmering, cartoon-like rays of sunlight emanating from him, the result, one can only guess, of the energy fairly bursting from his body as a result of chomping a bowl of Classic O's.

Belle's photo is simpler: He's in a classic slugger pose, gazing intently into the distance after another home run. And he's not even glaring.

* Cool stuff offered: Cal wins this category hands down.

"Look inside! Maybe you've won one of 2,632 individually numbered collector cards," blares a blurb on Cal's box. Unfortunately, after rooting around like a crazed Labrador retriever, it was discovered that we'd won exactly nothing.

There's another offer on the back: Order a Cal's Classic O's T-shirt and hat for "only $13.95."

Belle's box offers an autographed color photo of the moody slugger for "only $39.99," as well as a limited edition autographed baseball for "only $49.99."

No mention of when the new Albert Belle-autographed Mercedes sports coupe for "only $90,999" might be available.

Pub Date: 05/23/99

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