WRITER NEEDS HELP! What are your favorite sugar cereals?

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Gayle Lynds, The Writer's Life, On writing | 16 comments

Vintage Advertisement, as in really OLD

by Gayle Lynds

Want to help a writer? Name your favorite cereal! I know that sounds silly, but cereal is one of the “telling details” we writers use to give our readers a vivid feeling of character.

For instance, if I create a scene in which two grown men are sitting across a café table and one orders Cocoa Puffs and the other orders oatmeal, the reader quickly forms a picture in his or her mind about who those characters are.

On the other hand, what if we reverse eating tastes, and the oatmeal lover is a little boy, and the Cocoa Puffs chomper is his grandpa? That’d be interesting, unusual, and likely you’d be curious about what such different characters were up to.

We writers are always collecting details like cereal choices. Today, I eat organic groats (don’t start, they’re delicious!), but in childhood my favorite was Rice Krispies.  I still remember “my first time.” I was at the breakfast table, and Mom put a bowl in front of me, poured in the cereal, added milk, and sang the advertising ditty (everyone was singing it in those long-ago TV days): “Snap, Crackle, Pop … Rice Krispies!”

I leaned my head down over the bowl and listened closely. Yes, there it was … snap, crackle, pop!  Wow! (You can watch one of the old TV ads on YouTube, too – it’s cute.)

1940s ad with the Snap, Crackle, & Pop elves

As I was thinking about all of this, I wondered
what my husband’s childhood cereal fave was. He didn’t disappoint me: Rice Krispies!

Now of course I’m wondering about yours. I’d love to hear. To help you along, here’s CNN’s list of the most sugary cereals. I’m proud that Rice Krispies is less sugar-saturated than Cocoa Puffs!

CNN’s ranking of cereals by least sugar:

           1. Cheerios
           2. Rice Krispies
           3. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
           4. tied: Froot Loops, Reese’s Puffs, Trix
           5. tied: Apple Jacks, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles
           6. Frosted Flakes
           7. Lucky Charms
           8. Cap’n Crunch

Did you know there was a Cookie Crisp cereal? I didn’t, and I’m sorta unhealthily attracted to the sound of it. Crisp. Yum. Also, I’m besotted by the idea of Reese’s Puffs since I’ve always been a fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Hmm. I’m not so big on Frosted Flakes though. I think I’d rather just eat spoonsful of sugar and not be distracted by the cardboard “flakes.” I don’t mean to be cruel, but gosh … Lucky Charms has more sugar apparently, but it also has a more enticing name. Who doesn’t need a bit of luck sometimes?

Dear Reader, what are your thoughts? Did any of your childhood or adulthood cereal choices make the list? Please tell!

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  1. Lisa Black

    Oi, missy!! I still love Frosted Flakes! Probably neck and neck with Cinnamon Toast Crunch—very surprised that they are third-least. Now I can go buy them without guilt. I do like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. Not so much Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula or other flavored things like that—as much as I love chocolate, and peanut butter, I don’t like chocolate and/or peanut butter flavored things. Not even peanut butter cookies, and yet I’ll eat Jif (for it has to be Jif) out of the jar.

  2. Gayle Lynds

    Jif out of the jar! Wow, Lisa, I am in awe! Well, girlfriend, we finally found something on which we differ – cereal choices. Although, I gotta say, after your take on them I may have to re-evaluate Frosted Flakes. It's been only a couple (!) decades since I last tried them!

  3. Karna Bodman

    Oh dear – I never eat cereal (though as a kid I liked Captain Crunch). But for your "characters" in a novel, my husband (business type) will occasionally eat Grape Nuts – does that help?

  4. Robin Burcell

    I'm with you, Lisa. I adore chocolate and love peanut butter, but not things flavored as such. No ice cream, cereal, etc. But there is one exception: Justin's Dark (or even milk) Peanut Butter cups. … OMG. When they are fresh, they are the best. All natural, very little sugar (esp in the dark), creamy… To. Die. For. And expensive. They are my peanut butter/chocolate exception. (Sadly, they are so natural, that if they sit on the shelf a while, they can develop "bloom" where the chocolate begins to crystalize and harden the peanut butter.)

  5. Robin Burcell

    When I was a kid, raised by my very old-fashioned grandmother, sugary cereals were rarely bought. When they were, it was in the little snack pack variety boxes. The sugary ones always went first between us three kids. When I became a (sort of) self-sufficient adult, I couldn't wait to make my first purchase of my very own box of Sugar Smacks, which I was certain was my fave as a kid. I clearly remember opening that box, dumping a good portion into a bowl of milk then chomping down on that first bite. And almost gagging at the overly sweet explosion of nothing-flavor in my mouth. It was eye-opening to make the discovery that my grandmother's choices carried over into my adult life. I far prefer unsweetened cereals like Corn Flakes, Rice or Corn Checks, etc. I also prefer my oats or Cream of Wheat with salt and butter instead of sugar. And if I do eat a sweet cereal, the milk gets dumped. Nothing worse than sweet milk. More important than the type of cereal I eat is the fact It Must Be Crunchy. I pour a very small amount in the milk, eat it then refill. The only thing worse than overly sweet cereal is soggy cereal!

  6. john

    I always liked Post's Shredded Wheat. It came in palm-sized masses and you had to shred one manually into the bowl before covering it with sugar and chowing down. Labor-intensive cereal!

  7. Gayle Lynds

    They sound heavenly, Robin! I'm looking them up. Yum!

  8. Gayle Lynds

    What a wonderful story, Robin! It is crazy how we internalized a lot of the good we got out of our childhoods. I'm with you with the importance of crunch. I notice it particularly when I'm writing. I want to crunch on stuff, and do!

  9. Gayle Lynds

    I remember shredded wheat, too. My mother would pour hot water over it, drain quickly, and then add milk. Delicious!

  10. Gayle Lynds

    Great idea – Grape Nuts. I was once married to a man who really liked Grape Nuts, too. That's how I learned about them. Delicious!

  11. K. L. Romo

    I am both embarrassed and proud to admit that I have been a life-long Lucky Charms lover. Oops.

  12. Pat Marinelli

    In order of preference: Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes (I added my own sugar), Sugar Pops. Cheerios, Oatmeal (with cream and sugar added), Frosted Mini Wheats. I liked the idea of Lucky Charms but they were not a favorite to eat.

  13. Gayle Lynds

    Ahhh, Trix! I remember them. Much healthier than so many, and delicious, too. Thanks!

  14. Gayle Lynds

    I totally get it, KL. Like them, and the packaging, too. Always gives my endorphins a boost because it's so cheerful. Thanks, KL!

  15. Gayle Lynds

    Dear Pat … What a fabulous list! Thank you thank you! Gayle