Last week I was watching TV ads from the 1970s and saw those cartoony ads for sugary cereals ending with “Part of a balanced/good/complete breakfast.” I was going to write a column on that, but I didn’t have to because Tom Naughton (Fathead the movie) did it already, in 2013:
“If you’re around my age, you may remember when almost every commercial for cereal ended with the tagline: Part of this nutritious breakfast! Or, Part of this balanced breakfast! The “balanced” breakfast shown was always a bowl of cereal, two pieces of toast (because the cereal alone didn’t provide enough processed grain), a glass of milk and a glass of juice – usually orange juice.
“Boy, cereal had some great flavors back in the day: chocolate, sugar, honey, cinnamon toast, more sugar, marshmallows, rocky road ice cream, even more sugar, and chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, Kellogg’s and General Mills had no problem convincing us to eat those “balanced” breakfasts. I think we may be looking at part of the reason rates of obesity began to take off around 1980. […]
“Let’s look at the nutrition breakdown of that “balanced” breakfast the cereal manufacturers were promoting back then. Officially, a serving of cereal is cup or a half-cup, depending on the brand, but if you look at the commercials, those cereal bowls hold more like two cups – and I didn’t know any kids who ate just one cup of cereal for breakfast. They were called cereal bowls for a reason.
“So I’ll go with two cups of Frosted Flakes, 2% milk (which is what we drank when I was an adolescent), [toast with] Parkay Margarine (which was mostly trans fat back then) and Minute Maid orange juice from concentrate, the kind your mom mixed with water. […]
“Okay, let’s add up that nutritious breakfast:
Protein: 22.7 g
Carbs: 153 g
Sugar: 83 g
Fat: 28 g.”
That is the What, I wonder Why. Why the tagline about “balanced” breakfast? My theory it was to shine the glow of health emanating from that picture of toast and juice and a big glass of milk, typical breakfasts that parents were accustomed to serving.
Looking at Tim Horton’s new “Timbits” cereals (Birthday Cake and Chocolate Glazed) I was going to write a column about Candy for Breakfast, but I didn’t have to, as Jessi Devenyns did, just a few weeks ago.
“General Mills is launching five new cereals in 2020, including three that will be launched in the first quarter of the new year in collaboration with Hershey, according to Food Business News.
“The cereal manufacturer will release Hershey’s Kisses cereal in the shape of the iconic chocolate drops with Hershey’s chocolate; Jolly Rancher cereal with colorful bites in grape, cherry, green apple, watermelon and blue raspberry flavors; and Reese’s Puffs Big Puffs featuring oversized, peanut butter-flavored puffs.[…]
“Fewer Americans are eating cold cereal with milk for breakfast today than in the past. Instead, consumers looking for healthier alternatives, more protein and more convenient on-the-go solutions have looked beyond the cereal bowl in their search for nutrition. And cereal manufacturers, including General Mills, have seen sales slip for several years. Overall cereal sales decreased 17% from 2009 to 2016. According to Mintel statistics reported by the Wall Street Journal, cold cereal sales are expected to fall an additional 5% between 2018 and 2023.
“After trying their hand at better-for-you and health-focused alternatives, cereal manufacturers have turned to transforming this breakfast food into a sugary sweet, permissible indulgence.[…]
I wonder Why. Why ditch the “balanced” breakfast little white lie and flat-out call candy cereal candy? Devenyns says, “Indulgent cereals are marketed in large part to millennials looking to relive the carefree moments of their childhood. And manufacturers are hoping that those who are parents will share these moments with their children to create a new generation of sugary cereal lovers.”
When and Why cereal in the morning? “The first modern, designated breakfast cereal (forms of porridge aside) was invented in 1863 by a vegetarian Christian abolitionist doctor named James Caleb Jackson, created for his sanatorium patients,” Matt Blitz (2017) tells us.
When and Why did breakfast become “the most important meal of the day?” Sarah Klein (2017) quotes Lenna Cooper: “‘[I]n many ways, the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is the meal that gets the day started,’ Lenna F. Cooper, B.S., writes in a 1917 issue of Good Health, the self-proclaimed ‘oldest health magazine in the world’ edited by none other than Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the co-inventor of flaked cereal.”
So don’t listen to a couple of flakes, go ahead and enjoy your Intermittent Fasting. And as, Alex Mayyasi (2016) tells us, “Be vigilant. Breakfast is the most marketed meal of the day.”
Blitz, M. (2017.) “How did cereal become ‘part of a complete breakfast’?” From http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2017/01/cereal-become-part-complete-breakfast/. BONUS: Fabulous references, everything you ever wanted to know about breakfast!
Devenyns, J. (2020.) “Kisses for breakfast? General Mills partners with Hershey on new cereals.” From https://www.fooddive.com/news/kisses-for-breakfast-general-mills-partners-with-hershey-on-new-cereals/569730/
Klein, S. (2017.) “A Brief History Of How Breakfast Got Its ‘Healthy’ Rep.” From https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/breakfast-most-important-history_n_5910054
Mayyasi, A. (2016.) “Why Cereal Has Such Aggressive Marketing.” From https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/how-marketers-invented-the-modern-version-of-breakfast/487130/
Naughton, T. (2013.) “The ‘Balanced Breakfast’ of My Youth.” From https://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2013/06/17/the-balanced-breakfast-of-my-youth/. There is a compilation of sugar cereals here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=mjlupv5KPn0&feature=emb_title