Monday, June 22, 2009


Almost five years ago, when I began this particular exercise in Self-Aggrandizement and Time-Wastage, my first post was about Breakfast Cereal. Specifically, it was a review of a now-defunct product called Kellogg’s All-Bran Apricot Bites.

Of course, the post incorporated several veiled references to shit... which calls to mind a proverb. Something about a leopard being unable to change his spots, or a tiger his stripes. But I digress.

Breakfast cereal.

I loves me a nice bowl of cold cereal. Hot cereal’s fine, too, but it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for a great big steaming bowl of Wheatena on a boiling hot day in early July. No. This time of year, cold cereal rules.

The Breakfast of Champions. Or of Elisson, anyway.

Pictured here is a typical Brekkie d’Elisson: shredded wheat (or Kashi Cinnamon Harvest, which has the extra benefit of tasting good), Grape-Nuts, and a pile of berries, drowned in milk. I could, if pressed, eat this stuff all day long... and my colon would probably thank me. (She Who Must Be Obeyed, however, would probably not.)

I am a big fan of the Grape-Nut. In my Snot-Nose days, their ridiculously crunchy, gravel-like texture used to put me off, but their pleasant nutty flavor made up for it. And eventually I figured out that if they sat in milk long enough, they got soft enough to eat without your worrying that they were going to destroy all of your dentist’s expensive handiwork.

You can add Grape-Nuts to almost any other cereal to jack up the Crunch Factor. It’s an especially welcome addition to Weetabix, which are Brillo-pad-like affairs that, unlike the shredded wheat biscuits they so vaguely resemble, turn into mush the moment milk hits them.

But what is a Grape-Nut? It sure as hell ain’t a flake (I am not talking, here, of those misbegotten Grape-Nuts Flakes), and it ain’t puffy like Cheerios. And, the late Euell Gibbons’s protestations to the contrary, it ain’t a wild hickory nut.

Riddle me this: How is a Grape-Nut like an Egg Cream? Just as the Egg Cream contains neither egg nor cream, the Grape-Nut contains neither grapes nor nuts.

As it turns out, Grape-Nuts are simply dried bread crumbs.

Yes. Bread crumbs.

To make Grape-Nuts, they take wheat, malted barley, and yeast, blend them up into a dough, and bake it up into ten-pound loaves. These are then pulverized (using the same sort of device used in the movie Fargo to grind up Steve Buscemi) and dried. Who’d a’ thunk it?

This knobbly, crunchy treat, the invention of one C. W. Post, has been around for 112 years. Its market share is rather thin these days, probably because it is an idiosyncratic product with a mouthfeel unusual in a breakfast cereal (but more common in Fill Dirt). And yet, I love it.

Enough to write a Post about it. (How recursive is that?)

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