Yep, the following cereal review has “life”, if not overtly spiritual, undertones and metaphors. But before you go rolling your eyes and impulsively hitting that comment button, ask yourself: Would you do the same for a review with sexual metaphors? Just something to think about, courtesy of that smiling Quaker dude and yours truly.
Life, I think we can all agree, is deplorably mundane most of the time. There may be certain things to look forward to – the weekend off, the big game on Monday night, that next visit to In-N-Out – but for the most part, Life walks a line between moderately sweet, mournfully soggy, and yes, mostly plain.
That is, until you choose to complete it, and make it whole.
Then, something once plain and ordinary somehow transforms into something worth celebrating. Kind of like Life cereal.
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve hit a rut recently in my interest for cereal. Heck, I’ve hit a rut in my interest for food and blogging. It’s been hot as all get out here on the East coast, and now that I’m working again, I feel less of a compulsion to feign expertise as a food blogger. Mostly, I just feel tried and worn out. Not to get to deep with you here, but I’m rethinking my relationship with food, which for far too long has taken the place of tangible, real relationships and meaning in my life.
Take cereal. I’ve gone from one box of cereal to another chasing some form of childhood nostalgia or sugar high, and each occasion has left me far from satiated. They pile up in my pantry and go uneaten, with their smiling mascots reminding me only of the temporal (if that) euphoria of the first whiff of a newly opened cereal box. After that, it’s all vanity. And stale cereal which eventually gets thrown out.
So I’ve stopped buying cereal recently, and let the pantry stock dwindle to whatever my mother has in the “family” stock. It’s been getting especially lean as of late, and when I looked inside the other day, one of the only remaining boxes was the one with the smiling Quaker Oats guy. What, can you tell me, does this dude possibly have to smile about?
The impossibly cheerful Quaker guy notwithstanding, I’ve long been lukewarm to Life cereal, just like I’ve been lukewarm to embracing a sense of change in my life. I have “my” cereals, just like I had, and still have, those habits and crosses which set me back and make me a more unhappy, less selfless person. Sure, a handful of Froot Loops here and a few chomps of Mini Wheats there might lend me some memory of childhood or temporary euphoria from a sugar high, but sooner or later I’m reminded I live in a different world now, and that even a sugar high backed with whole grains can leave me cantankerous or, worse yet, compunctious.
Taking a look at the smiling Quaker man, I have to admit I’m not excited. There’s no rush of the “living to eat” adventure I’ve sometimes (ok, oftentimes) embraced in the world of blogging, and taking a look at the relatively straightforward ingredients, I’m left with a singular thought; ordinary. Maybe the problem isn’t with Life. Maybe the problem is my approach to Life. I haven’t been looking at is as full, as whole. I haven’t allowed myself to open up to give it what it needs to reach its full potential. Handfuls at work are half-assed, you might say, and never fully committed, never fully “all in.”
I was killing time after work the other day when I realized I’m not to most devoted of cereal eaters, just like I’m not to most devoted worker, son, and yes, Christian. I’ve been incomplete in these roles because I’m always letting something stand in the way. And oftentimes, amongst other things, that “something” is food, and more specifically, food blogging. I also realized I have the power to change the way I embrace these elements of my life.
Just like I have the power to choose to complete my bowl of Life cereal with whole milk.
I’ve had several different milks in my life, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had whole milk. Not that it hasn’t been around, or that people haven’t sworn by it. Come to think of it, whole milk seems steady and reliable, time-tested and enduring. Coconut. Skim Plus. Almond. They all come and go, and some are pretty worthwhile. But just like the cereals that come and go, and the fads and thoughts and trends that ebb through history and our lives, they eventually fall out of favor and are replaced. Whole milk? That’s been on the shelves before there were even shelves, when “getting milk” meant a smiling white-clothed dude dropping it off on your porch.
I returned home with my gallon of the smiling bovine nectar with a new perspective. This wasn’t going to be some post workout rush of a bowl, but rather, a meal. Something to be enjoyed, and something eaten for the sake of eating in order to live. Before pouring the cool dairy over my bowl, I took a handful of the crunchy squares. Not too crunchy, mind you, they’ve got a wholesome wheat and oat taste. It’s simple, but classic, with no off flavors or distracting and overly multigrain tones. The sugar crystals dotting the squares maxamize the perceptale sweetness, which takes on a cool and refreshing, almost ice cream like quality when I pour a half cup of whole milk into the bowl. I watch the milk slowly ebb and flow in and out of the squares like the ocean tide setteling into an old dock, creating sparkling squares of wheat and oats. There is a refreshing quality of the playfully soggy pieces in milk, especially in the summer sun after a long day of work. Any light crunch is lost to a porridge like consistency, with the crunchy crystals sugar slowly dissolving into the milk to add another burst of sweetness to the milky fresh flavor. So this is the spirit which seizes one to slurp up end-milk like a dog slurps up the water on his bowl during a hot day!
I must be frank; I’ve never enjoyed milk so much, nor have I enjoyed a cereal with such a restrained ingredient list as much. Finishing off the bowl, I ask myself, “was there any surprise?” I’ve long known that in this crazy, mixed up world where I’m always pushing myself, it’s oftentimes the simple things that satiate me and calm me down. I guess it just hadn’t occurred to me to put two and two together when it came to cereal, and enjoy the whole experience of Life for what it is.
Food for Thought: Do you remember any of the discontinued Life flavors? Which is your favorite?
Original Life (ranking adjusted for whole milk)
- Price: $2.50 (On sale at Food Lion)
- Ranking: 10/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 100%