Sweet Stuff

There are many benefits of being a parent, and an undeniable one of them is being able to go shopping for breakfast cereal. From that comes an additional bonus — the opportunity to share in the consumption of food obstensibly purchased for just the kids.

When it comes to that all-important first meal of the day, I don’t know if I’ve really grown up all that much from when I was Grace and Zachary’s ages. There were the occasional NYC brunches during the 1990s, when some tasty concoctions I couldn’t make (or sometimes pronounce) were enjoyed along with an adult beverage. Good, old-fashioned eggs (over easy, preferably, and definitely on top of toast — sour dough, if available), not to mention pancakes and french toast (with either bacon or sausage, please), are also pleasurable breakfast alternatives … but do they beat a bowl of Corn Pops?

My answer: No.

Anyone of a certain vintage will likely know full well that Corn Pops haven’t always been called Corn Pops. In the early ’70s, they were Sugar Pops. At some point, they became Sugar Corn Pops. Then, the “Sugar” was eventually dropped — even though I don’t think the cereal’s recipe was changed one iota.

Other cereals tried to downplay their sugar content, too, with similar name changes. Sugar Crisp became Super Sugar Crisp and then Super Golden Crisp. Now, it’s simply Golden Crisp — though thankfully, it’s still Sugar Crisp in Canada. Honey Smacks were once Sugar Smacks. Frosted Flakes, of course, were Sugar Frosted Flakes.

Some of the sweetest (and best-tasting) cereals have never had the word “sugar” in the name. It’s no secret that Froot Loops, for instance, have no shortage of sugar — a breakfast cereal comparison found online states each serving contains 13 grams of the white stuff. And just because Apple Jacks has the word “apple” in its name doesn’t automatically mean there are nutritional benefits, thanks to its 15 grams of sugar per serving. But want further proof that names are meaningless? Smart Start Healthy Heart cereal has a whopping 17 grams of sugar in its serving size. Kix (I’ve always loved its slogan, “Kid-tested, mother-approved) only has 3.

Nowadays, when doing the shopping, Zachary almost always accompanies me. To no big surprise, he eagerly awaits our weekly pilgrimage to the cereal aisle. Invariably, he asks for such perennial favorites as Cocoa Puffs (12 grams of sugar per serving), Trix (13 grams), Golden Grahams (11 grams) and Lucky Charms (11 grams). Grace, meanwhile, consistently has enthusiasm for Life (only 6 grams of sugar) and Rice Krispies (3 grams … before the sugar bowl from the cabinet gets taken out, anyway). I usually give into their breakfast requests — if only because I also get to partake in these tasty treats.

There is one cereal where a certain line has always been drawn, however. For a while, both G and Z always begged me (I think they knew better than to beg Becca) for Cookie Crisp, which they apparently got to eat at the home of a substitute day care provider. The justification I’ve consistently cited: You kids know better. You don’t eat cookies for breakfast.

Well, upon further review, I see that Cookie Crisp has 11 grams of sugar per serving — not great, to be sure, but consistent with the other cereals that regularly rotate around our revolving cupboard. Cookie Crisp also contains no trans fat, which is obviously a good thing, and no high fructose corn syrup. (Froot Loops, in addition to its 13 grams of sugar in each serving, has both).

I just might need to go to the supermarket now. Of course, I’m guessing any Cookie Crisp purchase would promptly be confiscated by Becca. I suppose both of us might then eat it while lounging around after the kids have gone to bed so … that’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?

No. I will not buy Cookie Crisp. The kids — all of us — will eat healthy. After all, Shredded Wheat is healthy, and it tastes pretty good, too.

Especially with a little sugar added.