Friday, January 16, 2009

Hosanna in the highest

I made clear when I launched this blog that it is most definitely a work in progress.

I don't really have an agenda yet, except to share my thoughts on whatever grabs me at the moment -- motherhood, pop culture, my concerns that I'm attracted to the President-elect, the ethnopolitics of Micronesia -- you name it. OK, maybe not so much that last one.

But today's offering concerns one of the most pressing issues in the JenMen universe:


Yes, cereal. But not just any cereal. Alpha Bits.

As a kid growing up on Long Island, few things brought me more joy than those lovely, lightly sweetened letter-shaped treats, one of the few sugary things my uber-health conscious mother would allow. I have fond memories of sitting on the redwood benches in our backyard with my beloved Uncle Allan, drenched in summer sun, snacking on green grapes and Alpha Bits.

If you're old enough, sing along, won't you?

As an adult, I'd often turn to Alpha Bits for comfort when the going got tough. Eating a bowl of Alpha Bits could always take the edge off for me. Not quite as out and out guilt -- or cavity -- inducing as, say, a bowl of Cap'n Crunch or Froot Loops. And not as depressing as a bowl of Bran Flakes. Alpha Bits was always just perfect.

And then the bastards took them away.

That's right. Took them away.

One day in the summer of 2005, I went to the grocery store and noticed something looked off about the Alpha Bits box. The colors weren't quite right. And it said something about a new formula with "zero grams of sugar."

How could Alpha-Bits have no sugar? I wondered.

Befuddled, I brought them home. And discovered that they had turned my beloved Alpha Bits into... letter-shaped Cheerios. I was horrified.

Immediately, I e-mailed Kraft. A nice publicist name Donetta delivered the crushing news: "This new version of the cereal will replace all existing versions of the cereal." I began to think very unkind thoughts about one Theresa Choh-Lee, the brand director for Alpha Bits quoted in the chirpy press release touting the introduction of this new whole grain nonsense they were trying to peddle. I scoured ebay, wondering if anyone was smart enough to have stockpiled them. Nada.

I died a little death that day. My Alpha Bits were just...gone. When you're in love with a breakfast cereal, it's not like you can just go and whip some up, either. They were really gone. I tried to find comfort in the fact that others shared my outrage.

Eventually, I noticed you couldn't even find the sugar-free version on the shelves. Maybe it was for the best. Alpha Bits were gone forever.

Years went by and I somehow tried to go on with my life. I had another child. We named him Alec Jaeger. But the hole in my world never completely healed. I put on a good face, mind you, but there was a light that went out in my eyes. I was not quite the same. Hobbled. Hurting.

I'm here today to report, however, that the universe works in mysterious ways. Some time last summer, just as I began to feel hopeful that the political winds might start blowing in the right direction, another little beacon of hope arrived back in our world, and it's called original Alpha Bits. With ten glorious grams of sugar per serving, and all the hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil a mom could ask for.

They're back, people. A little tricky to find, but back. I could sit at my desk right now and buy them online. A mere four dollars and 23 cents could bring joy to my heart.

I know there are much more pressing issues in the world right now, but I just wanted to take a moment to say: Thank you, God, for small miracles granted.


  1. Matt "General Mills" MendelsohnJanuary 16, 2009 at 6:54 PM

    I'm still trying to figure out who one the cross-country "race" between Quisp and Quake. Oh, forget it. You're too young.

    I'm with you, Jen. There's no greater indulgence than a bowl of crappy cereal that's crappy for you. As you know, I'm partial to the Cap'n. No cereal gives you that long-lasting filmy coating of the top of your mouth than Cap'n Crunch.

    Other favorites: Frosted Flakes, dry, straight out of the box; Wheaties, with four cups of sugar to each spoonful of milk; and Count Chocula and Frankenberry. (Mostly the chocula end of the combo.)

  2. I am NOT too young to remember Quisp and Quake, unfortunately. Or King Vitamin in full regalia.

  3. I don't think I've ever heard of Quake but it sounds sugary enough to keep me going all day! I loved Alpha-bits too, but my favorite is Cap'n Crunch peanut butter! Thankfully, it's still around! When I was pregnant with my first son, I would eat it by the tubful! Dee-lish!

    Found you through Beyond Blue. Thanks for writing this, a bit of nostalgia brings joy!

  4. Hey whatever happened to Sugar Pops?

  5. Oh my goodness! Alpha Bits! mmmm...for me, it's the Frosted Flakes that takes me back to a "nicer" time...all that sugar loaded into such a tiny flake...funny, my mom was never one to buy such a "bad" cereal for us all the time, but we DID have it every once in a while!!! mmmmmmm....thanks for the blog! you made my morning and put a smile on my face...!!

  6. Coco Pebbles, Baby! And of course, Trix -- they're for adults too.

  7. As a huge Alpha Bit fan, I love this post.

    So much truth and beauty - obviously Alpha Bits brings out the best in us all.