|Dear Solitary Reader: |
I don’t know what made me think about it, probably my trip down memory lane yesterday surrounding my exile from the home province, but this morning I had a taste flashback to Puffed Wheat. Now, and those of you who’ve had it know this for true, to say a taste flashback is to be quite liberal because, as we all know, Puffed Wheat has no taste.
It is, in fact, the white of cereal. For where light is the absence of all color, the experience known as Puffed Wheat is the absence of all taste.
Once again I take you back to a time, long ago, when I was a young boy living in Newfoundland.
I had not yet plucked the frozen cod from the ice, signalling to the province I was the King in Waiting, (it’s a cold weather version of the whole Sword in the Stone thing). I lived with my brothers and sister, my parents, a couple of dogs and a Barba Papa in a two storey house on a hill next to the forest. Looking back it turns out we weren’t that financially well off but I was 8 and had no idea. I had food every day, a roof over my head, clothes (which I occasionally wore), and a giant backyard to play in – what more does an 8 year old boy need? (Frankly whatever that was, the Barba Papa could morph into it… I wonder whatever happened to him).
I think the first time I ever had Puffed Wheat was when I realized maybe we didn’t move in the upper echelons of society, where children of rich parents ate Sugarcrisp in disposable sterling silver bowls. It was epiphany akin to when I began to doubt the existence of Santa Claus and must have been sort of what Adam felt when he took a bite out of the apple and realized that his own tree of life was exposed.
Now for those of you who aren’t sure what Puffed Wheat is let me explain.
As the picture above demonstrates there is a visual similarity between a kernel of puffed wheat and one of Sugarcrisp; all similarities end there. You see where each kernel of Sugarcrisp is hand rolled in honey and dipped in sugar by small Taiwanese children before being boxed up, each kernel of Puffed Wheat starts out flat, before it is hooked up to a hand pump where a fat Norwegian kid pumps precisely 3.46 times. It is then thrown into a giant, clear plastic bag with 74 million of its puffed up brethren and sent off to supermarkets, where people like my mother bought them.
Now Mom’s not around to ask, but as a father of two children myself I can now follow what must have gone through her brain when passing the bag of Puffed Wheat in the cereal aisle: “I have four children that eat a lot. This is a big bag of cereal. They shut up when they are eating. This will shut them up for a long time.” In retrospect, I can jump on that logic train Momma.
Now my Father is a modern man underneath that gruff ex- US Marine exterior. When the naval base he worked on as a bartender (bartender being the natural career progression of a Marine) closed my father still got up his normal pre-dawn time (looking back I now believe his actual job was to wake the rooster) and as he was up he let Mom sleep in and cooked our pre-school breakfasts. When we weren’t having Dad’s usual egg and potato mix we were having Puffed Wheat.
Talk about your bi-polar breakfast experiences.
My father could do things with an egg and some French fries that should have been illegal (it turns out it actually was illegal as I learned later in life that Dad was not using sea salt to season but was in fact using little rocks of crack). But, apparently you can’t do this everyday without overdosing your children, so on the off days we had: you guessed it Bacon. But the day after that was Puffed Wheat.
As previously mentioned, Puffed Wheat is the antithesis of taste. It’s where taste goes to die. The only way to make the stuff palatable was to put so much sugar in the milk, the milk could no longer dissolve it all (don’t look at me, I don’t know why I don’t have diabetes). In fact the high point of puffed wheat (to put it in perspective, the high point of puffed wheat was the low point of my dad’s “Let’s get Crack’in” egg und potato concoction) was when the puffed wheat was all gone and the only thing left was the sugary-milky dredges.
Happily for me, the days of puffed wheat are over, but I know right now there is some poor child scarfing his way through a bowl of puffed wheat, longing for the moment he hits the sugar at the bottom.
Well, I promise you this, little Frankie of Patty Dobbin Drive, when I return and take up the mantle of King of Newfoundland I will banish the Puffed Wheat and replace it with the Puffed Puffin, Breakfast of Champions!
To the return!
Here’s what my box of Puffed Puffin will look like: