Thursday, April 4, 2019

Foods From Childhood: Cap'n Crunch Cereal

If I'm going to start a new series entitled Foods From Childhood, I have to start with one of my favorite cereals from my childhood...and one I wasn't allowed to have very often.

A Hyper Kid Needs Less Sugar

I was hyper as a kid. I'm not as hyper now, but there are moments. In truth, there's likely a little ADD in my DNA, but back in the 1970s, I was just hyper. According to my parents, I was unable to sit still very well in class and I chatted with my classmates. A lot. So, instead of placing me on any  sort of medicine, the doctor suggested my parents cut back on my sugar intake.

It was the Feingold Diet by which they fed me. Gone was white sugar, lots of candy, and my beloved Dr Pepper. You know, the kind in the 6 oz. bottles that came in a 12-pack? Vanished from the pantry was also the pre-sweetened cereals like Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Pebbles. I loved those cereals--natch--and was bummed I couldn't have them anymore. What made it especially difficult was when certain cereals out of my reach would feature a toy inside the box I particularly wanted. Those were rough days.

The Blandness of Cheerios

In place of all those sugar bombs was Cheerios. Bland toasted oats. Bleech. Granted, I was allowed to add brown sugar to the bowl and, when the parentals weren't looking, I threw in more than one spoonful. Which was kind of against the whole point, right?

The Arrival of Honey-Nut Cheerios

It was a great day when Honey-Nut Cheerios was introduced. Evidently it didn't contain a lot of sugar or preservatives so I was allowed to have that. Much, much better. I ate many a bowlful of Honey-Nut Cheerios and was generally happy with the choice.

The Captain Calls

Spending the night at a friend's house was prime time to see what kinds of foods they ate. Specifically, what kinds of cereal stocked in their pantries. I remember Cocoa Pebbles (love) and Sugar Smacks (didn't love) being some I tried.

But then I tried Cap'n Crunch.

Oh my, what heaven was this? Golden corn chunks that stayed crunchy in the milk almost until the last piece was swept up in my spoon. The sweetness was there, but not overwhelming like Frosted Flakes. And the way the 'Crunch Dust' flavored the milk made tipping the bowl and drinking the last drop so rewarding.

Over the years, I ended up eating other things for breakfast. Now, I'm partial to eggs and oatmeal. But whenever I started buying my own groceries, every now and then, I'd pick up a box of Cap'n Crunch. After I got married, my wife said she and her sisters could polish off an entire box in one morning.

Now, thanks to the cereal love the TechnoRetro Dads give every week, I thought I'd try a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and see how it holds up.

The Taste Test

The one concession to age I have to state up front is my lactose intolerance. I migrated from Lactaid milk to soy milk and now to unsweetened almond milk. So for this taste test, I had a nice bowl of Cap'n Crunch with almond milk.

The crunch is still the same. The milk absorbs into the ...what do you call them? The pieces? But they don't get soggy. The taste is actually not as sweet as I remember. My wife had a few spoonfuls as well. She contends the pieces were larger back in the day, but she also didn't think it was just because she grew up. She honestly thinks the pieces were bigger.

I hopped over to the web to see if there was any truth to her claim. I didn't find any, but I did find a quote by Pamela Low, the flavorist who developed the cereal back in 1963. Based on a recipe her grandmother made, Low said Cap'n Crunch had something she described as  "want-more-ishness". Judging by how fast the family can polish off a box of Cap'n Crunch now, I'd say she hit the nail on the head.

Cap'n Crunch cereal. Still lovin' it after all these years.

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