The Tradition of Cheerios

Chris - Federal Way, Washington
Entered on April 14, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I have an unusual fondness for Cheerios. During the past twenty years or so, I’ve consistently enjoyed the small round oats. Though my life has experienced considerable change, some good, some not so good, Cheerios have remained invariably the same. My fervor for Cheerios began when I was kid, while watching Saturday morning cartoons.

My favorite cartoon growing up was Popeye the Sailor Man. I liked Popeye; he was a relatively ordinary sailor, not immune to the habitually cruel attacks by the bully Bluto. However, after squeezing out a serving of canned spinach, Popeye would transform into a justice seeking vigilante, capable of superhuman feats such as, flying, deflecting bullets, and stopping trains with a stiffly extended arm. I asked my dad to buy me canned spinach, so I could be strong like Popeye. Instead, he brought me a bowl of cheerios. He explained, “Cheerios are just like spinach,” and if I ate them, I would grow up to be “Strong like Popeye.” Every morning, before he left for work, my dad and I would get stronger together by eating our Cheerios.

When I was 10 years old, my parents divorced. My younger brother and I would alternate between parents, one week we would live with my mom, the next, with my dad. Money was scarce after the divorce, especially for my dad. The three of us lived in a scanty one bedroom apartment with only the bare necessities. These were very stressful times, and there was a period when my dad struggled to put food on the table. Each week, he would come home from the grocery store and the number of bags would be fewer. One Sunday he explained, “I was only able to buy cereal and milk this time.” My father is a very proud man, and I could tell he was bothered by the fact that he could no longer afford the luxuries which my brother and I were accustomed. I pretended to be excited, explaining, “We get to eat as much cereal as we want!”

For awhile, we lived off of cereal, and Nips-candies my dad won when he called in a correct answer to a radio talk show. If there were any literal truth to the phrase, you are what you eat, I would have turned into a bowl of Cheerios. Regardless of the changes my family experienced after the divorce, my dad made sure that there was one thing constant in our lives. Every morning before school, the three of us started our day together with a bowl of breakfast cereal.

Like other families, we’ve had our share of ups and downs. Even though there were changes going on in my life, my dad was there for me when I needed him. At the age of ten, I really had no idea what was in store for my family; yet, I could always count on breakfast with my dad. For me, cheerios are more than just a morning meal, they are a reminder of my life experiences. I believe in a bowl of cheerios in the morning because they remain constant during times of turmoil. Plus, they taste really good with sugar and banana slices. I still start my mornings with a bowl of cereal, I simply don’t feel ready for my day without it.