Cereal Philanderer: A Final Countdown

Oh, Apple Jacks . . . Most delicious of all God's many cereal children.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The time has come for the Cereal Philanderer to say goodbye. I've had a good run, but this--like all things--must finally come to an end. Mostly because I've run out of clever ways to lovingly describe sugar-frosted lumps of grain. But also because I'm really sick of eating cereals that aren't my beloved Apple Jacks.

Oh, but wait . . . Before we part ways, I thought it fitting to run a last list, ranking all the cereals we've explored together, comparing them one last time to that Apollonian ideal of breakfast crunchables, and remembering the good times we had.

Care to join me, friend, for this, the Cereal Philanderer's Final Countdown?

Quaker Natural Granola: In which we discussed how an earthquake, a Godzilla attack, and a fuck-ton of sugar combined to make one of the "20 Worst Breakfasts In America."

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: You could do worse things with a thousand tons of smashed granola bars, but Apple Jacks is better. 4 Apple Jacks out of 10

Wheaties: How a cereal originally linked with the jazz world could factor in the rise to power of Ronald Reagan, I'll never know. But it did. Even though it tastes like eating cardboard.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: It's the breakfast of losers. And Ronald Reagan. And people who wear golf pants in public. 2 Apple Jacks out of 10

Crazy Cow Cereal: While notable as the first cereal to turn milk different colors, in an age when everyone knows the name "Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis," a cereal named for a mad cow is probably not going to do so well. Good thing this stuff went off the market in the 1980s.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Sometimes the good die young. Sometimes they go right on schedule. 4 Apple Jacks out of 10

Honeycomb: The phrase "Going down to the Honeycomb Hideout" remains one of the dirtiest things you can say while actually talking about cereal. But a profusion of mascots and some recent "new and improved" fuckery have taken a toll on Honeycomb.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Better before The Man got his hands on it. Still not good enough. 6 Apple Jacks out of 10

Trix: An allegory for aging, death, and the ravages of mental illness, all in one sugary, neon-colored package.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Rabbits are mad for it. Cereal critics, not so much. 5 Apple Jacks out of 10

Circus Fun: A cereal whose memory survives the test of time, despite the creepy clown on the box.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Powerful in memory, gone in reality. But still a strong marshmallow-y contender. 7 Apple Jacks out of 10

Kix: America's favorite Cold War breakfast treat, which, shortly after the dropping of the world's first atom bombs, came with a ring in the shape of one as a prize in every box. That's hardcore.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: "Worse, of course, but if you are a believer in the Many Worlds hypothesis, then there is probably a reality out there somewhere in which nuclear weapons fell on American soil. And if reading WAY too much Golden Age sci-fi has taught me anything, it's that when those bombs did fall, there was some towheaded Midwestern farm boy out there, wearing his Kix radiation detector ring, who was able to warn his entire community about the coming fallout just in time for them to get below ground, where they lived for 50 years, completely cut off from the horrors of the nuclear war that raged on the surface. Those people are now the only humans left not turned into horrible atomic mutants. That boy is now mayor of Undergroundsville, USA. And someday soon, someone is going to open the door to the surface for the first time in generations and peek outside . . ."

So yeah, in that world, Kix is better than Apple Jacks. But in this world, it's no contest. 4 Apple Jacks out of 10

Puffins: True, Puffins are America's favorite Icelandic-waterfowl-based breakfast cereal and are more delicious than a box full of penguin meat, but are really only suitable for the children of hippies.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Not even close. 3 Apple Jacks out of 10

Cocoa Puffs: "Following the Cathy Guisewite Principle, they took all the Kix that no one was eating, shot it up with chocolate (because people will eat anything so long as there's chocolate in it), and rebranded them as Cocoa Puffs. Along with the help of Sonny, a shit-talking cuckoo bird with ADD, addictive tendencies, and severe mental problems, Cocoa Puffs became one of America's favorite methods for guiltlessly eating chocolate for breakfast."

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Don't delude yourself. You're eating chocolate for breakfast. You might just as well pour some milk over a bowl full of Hershey's kisses and crumbled-up Kit Kat bars. 6 Apple Jacks out of 10

Alpha Bits: A typewriter-based cereal for the digital age.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: When you can find it, the stuff fares pretty well. Plus, what's better for breakfast than typesetting nostalgia? 7 Apple Jacks out of 10

Frosted Flakes: Tigers, ascots, Chez Panisse, and evil supervillains all factor into the assessment of the next best thing to a bowl of Apple Jacks.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: The strongest challenger yet. 9 Apple Jacks out of 10

Raisin Bran: Think this stuff is healthy? Think again. You'd be better off eating candy bars for breakfast.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Personally, I don't find anything wrong with eating candy for breakfast. Therefore, Dr. Kellogg's Digestive Regularity Flakes do quite well. 8 Apple Jacks out of 10

Grape Nuts: Because your colon is a sissy.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: It has one of the most fascinating histories of any of the cereals we discussed over the life of this column. But then, it still tastes like eating gravel. 1 Apple Jack out of 10

Fruity Pebbles: In which we discuss creationism, the influence of the Christian church, dinosaurs, cavemen, and the birth of brand marketing.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: "It's like eating a hundred back issues of Advertising Age magazine. Also, it tastes like being shot in the mouth with a blunderbuss packed with rock sugar and chemically derived fruit flavonoids. 5 Apple Jacks out of 10

Cap'n Crunch: The many tales of Napoleonic-era British naval officer Captain Horatio Marleybone Crunch, Earl of Northwesterland--a man best known for his overwhelming cowardice during the Battle of Camperdown, his accidental ramming of Lord Nelson's flagship, his lusty dealings with various ship's boys, powder monkeys, and bosun's mates, and the invention of a digestive biscuit which he named after himself: Captain Marleybone Crunch's All-Purpose Homewheat Osmotic Catabolist Nuggets.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: I do love me some Crunch Berries. But I still like Apple Jacks better. 7 Apple Jacks out of 10

Cookie Crisp: Yeah, you're eating cookies for breakfast. How ya feel about that, fatty?

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: Considering that said "cookies" taste like "they were designed by a DOW chemical engineer who'd never actually tasted a chocolate chip cookie before," not very well. 2 Apple Jacks out of 10

Lucky Charms: "In the 1960's, with their economy in tatters and their police force exhausted by constant leprechaun attacks, Ireland was in a state of panic . . . " Thus began my history of Lucky Charms cereal. And it only got weirder from there.

How does it compare to Apple Jacks?: A bowl of Lucky Charms is the quickest and easiest way for a man to get his recommended daily allowance of marshmallows. And leprechaun sweat. 7 Apple Jacks out of 10

Apple Jacks: The Big Green Box of Love, where it all began . . .

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