Ode to an O
I think it's about time someone talked about the thrilling perfection of cheerios. (Did you think I was talking about something else?) Perfection, in a breakfast cereal? Yes, perfection. In a breakfast cereal. You see, while my tagline might in fact read more than just breakfast cereal, I have a deep appreciation for the humble cheerio.
Humble? Cheerios are not a flashy, showy cereal. They have no animated mascot, they do not come in five colours, with marshmallow bits, or in the shapes of TV characters. They only prizes I've retrieved from Cheerios boxes have been not plastic licensed toys with movie tie-ins, but children's books and CD-ROM of classic games like Boggle. I like that they don't show up yelping ads between kids TV shows, that they are a quietly, unpretentiously good, solid cereal choice.
The cheerio, you see, has the perfect combination of flavour, texture, healthfulness, appearance, and ease of handling. It has nearly no sugar, yet it is slightly sweet. Not in the milk-altering sweetness of sugary cereals, but subtly sweet, made so by just the barest hint of sweetening and the enzyme action it undergoes once in your mouth. Genius. The cheerio is robust enough to float in your milk for some time without succumbing to the dreaded cereal sog, an enemy of mine that rules out the eating of any "flake" cereal. It is whole grain, made with oats long before such a thing was popular, long before we actually knew that that could help scrub cholesterol from your veins.
The O shape, too, is nothing less than ideal. After all, it's cute, it makes for fun playing, it is large enough to pick up more easily in the event of a spill, and it is easily picked up by the clumsy fingers of toddlers. No wonder most pediatricians actually recommend them. Best of all - and my mom laughed when I said this while Sisterpie was a baby, but I think it's great - with the hole in the middle, they should allow for continued breathing if your toddler happens to swallow one, shouldn't they? Brilliant.
Oh yes, those Os are ahead of the curve in every way. Long before we were all fearful and protective and the world was fraught with recalls over choking hazards and worries of childhood diabetes brought on by too much sugar and whole grains were hailed as the new food messiah, the cheerio was the perfect cereal, designed with all of that in mind and more. And so they float in my spoon as they have since I was a toddler myself, more days than not.
All hail the humble cheerio, and its quiet perfection.