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4:04 p.m. - August 03, 2005
It's All About the Crunchberries!
I was flipping through our grocery coupons the other day and I noticed that a certain cereal coupon was about ready to expire. (And yes, I do make banzai runs to the grocery store based on coupon expiration!) Hmmm…I thought. I could really go for some of this cereal. With the double coupon match at Kroger’s, it was $1.00 – and with my Plus card, it was on sale even further. So for $1.50, I bought a box and set out to enjoy my all-time favorite cereal from my halcyon days of youth.

Cap’n Crunch With Crunchberries.

This was my favorite cereal of all time. Regular Cap’n Crunch was fine, but the flavor was non-classifiable. It was corn-like, sugary, yet you couldn’t really pin a definitive flavor on it. Other sugared cereals had their moments, like Frosted Flakes and Super Sugar Crisp (none of these new PC cereal names for me – call ‘em like you see ‘em. They’re SUGAR Smacks, not Honey Smacks. Geez!), but none could match up for the Crunchberry goodness. Cinnamon Crunch, a cereal with a short shelf life, made a run at it for a while, but Crunchberries won out.

Crunchberries had a distinct, unique flavor. Some say they’re ostensibly strawberry – but they don’t resemble strawberries to me. They have their own flavor – berry sweet sugary goodness eat them all up now yum yum……..oh, sorry, got carried away.

Of course, the only downfall to Crunchberries was that it was the one cereal that was guaranteed to carve up the roof of your mouth – doubly painful if you had hot pizza the night before and ate a slice that was just a wee too hot. But the pain can be shrugged off for the deep pleasure contained in those red berries.

Yes, red berries. Well, fuschia maybe, I think. Someone get me a Pantone Color book or box of 64 Crayolas. The milk turned to a carnation or maybe salmon color after a while, but that was OK.

I have heard that they made changes to the cereal in recent years. They changed the colors of the berries so they just don’t have red anymore. It’s not the same to see green and purple Crunchberries. According to legend, the Crunchberries grew on Crunchberry Island, and unless Dr. Moreau went in and genetically altered those Crunchberry bushes (and he’d have to sneak by the Crunchberry Beast to do so), then by God Crunchberries are that pinkish, reddish, funny color that they always have been. Sadly, much like they changed the colors in the Crayola Box of 64, and added new shapes to Lucky Charms, they’ve kept the new colors of Crunchberries. Sigh.

Then, a few years ago, they decided to release a cereal called “Oops, All Berries”. This was a secret dream of mine, to have Crunchberries stand on their own and be their own cereal. Sometimes, I’d eat all of the Cap’n Crunch part first, and save all of the Crunchberries to the end, making a pseudo all-Crunchberry cereal. (Yeah, my OCD reared its ugly head in my youth. I also used to segregate my M & M’s by color and eat them in order, but saved one for each color for the end game.) So the “All Berries” cereal was like wishing for a pot o’ gold and seeing it right before you.

And of course, as they always say, be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

The “All Berries” cereal was fine, but it wasn’t the manna from cereal heaven that I expected. The actual Cap’n Crunch cereal took the edge off the berry-ness of the Crunchberries – unlike Lucky Charms, which if they removed the cereal part no one would miss – one needed the Cap’n Crunch to balance the palate.

It had been a while since I had eaten Crunchberries. On weekdays, I usually just have coffee in the morning, or maybe an English muffin or bagel before I go to work. On weekends, I crank out the frying pan and try to kill everyone with cholesterol kindness, making bacon, with either eggs (I have a yummy scrambled egg recipe) or French toast, and sometimes with fried potatoes and biscuits. Liz and Katie both eat cereal, but we really watch what kind of cereal Katie eats. We don’t have any sugared cereal in the house, because who wants a 3 ½ year old on a sugar rush bouncing around the house during the summer?

So my opportunities for a Crunchberry experience have been few and far between, and I think I was missing them in some odd way. So when I saw the coupon I knew I had to have them.

I told Liz what I had done, and she said that I had to be sure to hide them from Katie, otherwise she was going to want them as well. And it would be on me if any damage or mayhem ensued from a big-time sugar high. So I had to be sure I ate the Crunchberries before 7:00 in the morning, as that is the pre-ordained time for Katie to get up. (She can’t leave her room before 7:00, because at times it was daybreak when she wanted to get up and do stuff. That doesn’t fly, especially with a 7-week old in the house!)

So this week, I ate the Crunchberries right as I got up in the morning, while tending to Kristin, reading the paper, and/or watching the Daily Show and Letterman off of TiVo.

First off, I was quite disappointed in the shape of the alleged ‘berries’. Crunchberries are supposed to be “berry” shaped. Many of these are flat or had strange shapes. Perhaps it’s related to some promotional tie-in with the Kim Possible TV show, but that still doesn’t make it right to change them from berries to some indiscriminate polygon.

Shape-shifting aside, I took the first bite. Mmmmm…just as I remembered. The Cap’n Crunch was of again a sugary, corny amalgamation of unknown origin, and the Crunchberries (I guess they can still be called berries, though the Crunchberry Beast is probably bitter and jaded about the whole thing. I can picture him, in retirement, down in Florida, playing Canasta with Dig ‘Em, and Quisp, and awaiting the early bird special and his date with Honey Bear (who divorced Sugar Bear, finally)) tasted like they always have – berry-like but of a berry not known to this world.

But after a few bites, I had shock and awe in my cereal bowl. Instead of a fuschia-magenta-taupe color of milk, the milk was blue. BLUE! These new-fangled crunchberries make the milk turn blue. Now, the only cereal to make milk turn blue was Boo-Berry, the poor relation of Count Chocula that only seemed to appear on sale at the cheap-o grocery store on the far side of town. But since most of the new Crunchberries were red, or some shade thereof, turning the milk blue was definitely something from the dark side. I think some would say it’s the mark of Satan himself to make a red berry turn the milk blue. (Either that or some food coloring trick, I guess.)

The blue milk also freaked Liz out. I put the bowl in the sink after I finished and there was some of the milk left in it. She wondered who invaded our house and planted a radioactive isotope in our milk supply.

Well, funny shapes and blue milk aside, I enjoyed my first bowls of Crunchberries. But what I was not prepared for was the sugar rush. I’ve been off caffeine for almost three years now, and while I do get some in chocolate on occasion I’ve never knowingly drank real coffee or had a real Coke in that time. So having an artificial rush of any means was an odd sensation.

I could only imagine what that cereal would do to an amped up kid.

I’ve enjoyed Crunchberries these past three days, and will finish the box tomorrow. I love the stuff, but I really could do without the extra sugar and calories, even if it is part of a nutritious breakfast (well, except for the refined sugar busting out of its seams, it is!) and has plenty of vitamins and iron. It has 100% of what you need for Folic Acid, so I guess it’s a good cereal for pregnant women and women trying to conceive. (Honey, break out the Crunchberries and strip off your boxers, I think it’s the right time to make a baby!). Oh, and the roof of my mouth is a bit scraggly from the crunch-damage. I’m avoiding pizza this week.

Most of all, it was a neat trip down memory lane. I can complain about all of the changes but Crunchberries were all good back in the day. And they still taste that way today.

Now just change the shapes back to BERRY shaped, please! They don’t call ‘em Crunchberries for nothin’


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