Remember Cereal Bowl?

The cereal restaurant this blog followed for an extensive period of time? The one that was good at its mission but unfortunately existed in a neighborhood without a lot of college kids?

I’m sorry to report to you, many years belatedly, that the Cereal Bowl has closed. And so has the Starbucks that opened in the Cereal Bowl’s place. And so has the Chipotle that opened in the Starbucks’ place. And, as of this month, so has the Tino’s Pizzeria that opened in the Chipotle’s place.

For my brother, on his birthday

Rob took this photo for me a long time ago, and it has sat around ever since. For his birthday today, I salute him and his accompanying note: “Fyi, the cheddar flavor creates a perfect cross between Cheerios and Cheetos.” This is why we are brothers and why I respect and love him.

Not only is he a fine investment banker (and an upstanding investment banker, it must be said in this day and age), but he understands and, I know, appreciates the finer things in life. Like Cheerios! And Cheetos!

Happy 29th, brother Rob! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. It’s sure hard to believe you’ll be 30 next time. Give me a year on that one.

To continue the celebration, more pictures, nearly lost on my machine, of boxes of cereal, all of which remind me of my brother in some way…

Continue reading For my brother, on his birthday

This would be the greatest story about Cheerios ever

Via the Post‘s Story Lab blog this month, we find Things They Carried author Tim O’Brien’s 2009 Atlantic essay on narrative, “Telling Tails.”

The blog post is a sign of how Story Lab has democratized its views on storytelling, and the essay is terrific. “MY SONS, TIMMY and Tad — both fans of Winnie the Pooh — have taken lately to wearing tails,” O’Brien begins to tell us. “At our local Wal-Mart, and occasionally at church, the boys sport lengths of clothesline dangling from their trousers.”

More of the lede: “They prowl the neighborhood trailing an assortment of ribbons, coat hangers, telephone cords, fishing line, belts, blankets, drapery tassels, and electrical extension cords. People notice. Things have gotten out of hand.” O’Brien sews as a master. Reading further, you get a great story about Batman, and then you get the Cheerios.

Above all, a well-imagined story is organized around extraordinary human behaviors and unexpected and startling events, which help illuminate the commonplace and the ordinary. In daily life, one would not say to a drinking companion, “Hey, here’s a great story for you. Yesterday morning I ate Cheerios. Then I set off for work. Work was boring. Nothing happened. I left the office at five o’clock sharp. That night I ate a steak, not a great steak, but a pretty darned good one. I went to bed about nine.” Very quickly, I think, one’s drinking mate would seek more interesting company. A better story, though not necessarily a good one, might begin: “Yesterday morning, over my usual bowl of Cheerios, I was alarmed to note that the Cheerios were shaped not as standard circles, but as semicircles, as if someone had used a surgical scalpel to slice each individual Cheerio precisely in half. Odd, I thought. And odder still, those particular Cheerios tasted only half as delicious as Cheerios usually taste. And even odder yet, I found myself half hungry at work that morning, half wishing for a bowl of Cheerios. My hunger was soon tempered, however, by the disturbing realization that I was now but half a man.”

Finally! A trip to a cereal restaurant

Six years ago this spring, I learned of restaurants serving only cereal.

USAT ran a story about Cereality, and friends Matt, Brett and I nearly fled the office that morning to start our own franchise. Later in ’04, the concept arrived in Philadelphia, and I urged my brother to go. In 2005, the concept hit Chicago, and I urged friends to go. In 2006, Evanston got a cereal restaurant, too late for me, and I urged whoever was left in the NU suburb to go. The world also began hearing of other cereal restaurants that year, including one called The Cereal Bowl. In 2007, Cereality cut back, and I grew disillusioned. Would D.C. ever get one?

But, amid my new skepticism, The Cereal Bowl continued its rise. In 2009, I turned my hopes to custom cereal and custom cereal boxes. Little did I know Cereal Bowl had D.C. squarely in its sights for 2010.

The new franchise opened a week ago in Cleveland Park, and friend Meghan and I went this morning. It was a cereal dream come true.

Beginning our tour and review… The spot is next door to the Uptown.

The Bowl’s other neighbors, not so hot. They don’t even have cereal.

Inside, digital screens tell the menu. And, yes, “Create a Box” is real.

Continue reading Finally! A trip to a cereal restaurant

File next to the flying car

I’m trying, I’m trying. New York Times “Year in Ideas,” December 2001.

Next spring, General Mills is expected to introduce, a Web site that allows users to mix and match more than 100 different ingredients to create and name their own breakfast cereals, delivered to their homes in single-serving portions.

You want Cheerios to come with the marshmallows from Lucky Charms? Done. Mix Cinnamon Toast Crunch with French Toast Crunch? Sure. Wheaties with blueberries, almonds and grains? No problem. Add a tropical touch to your Cocoa Puffs? Have them throw in some coconut shreds and dried mango.

Via Mediaite’s 2009 review of the ’01 ideas list. The site’s comment on cereal: “My Honey Nut Cap’n Crunch Choculas never really caught on.” remains under General Mills control, sadly unused.

Do they also deny Cheerios’ claims of awesomeness?

The FDA is demanding Cheerios pull its marketing claims of lowering your cholesterol. While admitting Cheerios may be healthy, the FDA says only approved drugs can make such claims, leading to the ABC News headline, “FDA: Don’t advertise Cheerios as a drug.”

The demand comes to General Mills in a letter from W. Charles Becoat, director of the FDA’s Minneapolis District Offce, “Your Cheerios ® product is misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(1)(B)] because it bears unauthorized health claims in its labeling.” Other sections also cause trouble. Confiscation is threatened. You have to wonder what Mr. Becoat eats for breakfast. 

In Digital Journal, a writer sides with the FDA. She writes, “What would be hysterically funny would be if Cheerios could prove their ‘studies‘ were accurate, and eating Cheerios really does lower cholesterol, the FDA would have to declare it a ‘drug’ and we’d need prescriptions to buy it at the super market.” Lady, you got a strange idea of funny. 

cheerios-drugAd Age says public sentiment is on Cheerios’ side in this. Rush Limbaugh is. From Wednesday, “Imagine if somebody were to put sugar on their Cheerios: oh, my God, what would the FDA do then? Actually, General Mills does: they’re called Honey Nut Cheerios. That’s a gateway drug here, folks.” A Big Money column looks at the partisan debate.

As for myself… this blogger has no interest in partisanship. But we do know this blogger has a problem. Paraphernalia’s strewn about this druggie’s glass coffee table this very moment (at right).

In a story today about tech crazes, NYT’s David Pogue writes, “You’ve never seen 1,000 people camping out to be the first in line to buy, say, a new flavor of Cheerios or the latest Gap jeans.” True. But I’ve never been given the opportunity. Bring on Cheerio madness! I need it bad.