At the beginning of “Breakfast Club,” rapper Murs alludes to the notion that we should all be able to relate to the following childhood memory: waking up on Saturday morning, grabbing a big bowl of sugary cereal, and watching cartoons.
Sounds pretty sweet, right? If that’s how you remember your childhood, then bully, just bully! I, for one, harbored a very similar routine, only sans the sugary cereal.
You remember the whole “anti-dentite” routine from Seinfeld? Well my folks were “anti-sucrose-ites.”
That joke sounded funnier in my head.
Actually, no it didn’t.
Anyway, for a good portion of my youth, “sugar” was like a four-letter word in my house. My parents, through not the crunchy-granola types, constantly sought out healthy alternatives to the world’s deadliest of sweets, one of which was those awful, sugary breakfast cereals. You know the ones. Your Froot Loops and Cookie Crisps and Lucky Charms and…
None of that for lil ol’ me and my siblings. Nope, not a crispy “berry”-flavored cereal bit in sight for any of us. Instead, our pantry was filled with the likes of Shredded Wheat (unfrosted, of course), Cheerios (plain), Wheaties (yuck), Grape-Nuts (blech), some other wheat cereal that pretty much looked like twigs (really?), and the worst of the worst…puffed wheat and/or rice.
My foray in trying out the cereals that I was once denied happened in college, y’know, because breakfast cereal is totally one of the most salacious discovery-routes a nubile young freshman can take…right? RIGHT?? I did develop a temporary addiction to Lucky Charms and Corn Pops. Oh, and then there was this one that I OD’ed on Cocoa Pebbles. Ick. (Thank god I wasn’t alone – haven’t been able to touch chocolate cereal since. Much like with Jagermeister. Not that anyone would ever combine Cocoa Pebbles and Jager, I mean…psssht, that’s just…well…just…it’s like…[sigh].)
Terrible memories of being a youngin’ slurping up sad, wheat-flavored milk out of bowls aside, if I had been allowed to indulge fully in this common Saturday morning ritual of overly-sugared foodstuffs with milk and vapidly brilliant entertainment, I likely would have had preferences. Going back to the “Breakfast Club” song, it makes sense that some cereals would go better with certain cartoons over others. (I think both kid logic and adult logic apply.) So I’m going to play a game. I’m going to take my top five all-time favorite (that I can currently recall) 1980s Saturday morning cartoons, and pair them with the sugary cereal that I think I would have chosen for each back in the day.
Let the listing, in no particular order, commence!
Voltron and Trix
Though Voltron didn’t have a huge run in the U. S, I truly enjoyed the bejeesus out of it as a kid. There was just something particularly wonderful about large, formidable robotic lions (each overseen by some of the best space defenders around!) that connected together to form an even larger and even more formidable peace-keeping robot — Voltron! We even had the full playset with all five lions. (Though I seem to remember there being a pink character – a girl – at some point in the run? I don’t recall there being a pink lion.) But why choose the “fruit-flavored” sugar blast of Trix as an accompaniment? Because in the same manner that one might not think that five robotic lions could come together to form something so wonderful, so to do Trix’s disparate shapes come together to form a ton of delicious, “fruit-filled” goodness. Having a few single bits of Trix is okay, but mash them together into the Voltron of cereals, and you’ve got something that’s more than special.
Jem and Fruity Pebbles
To be frank, the wonderfully sparkly cartoon Jem is as much about empowerment and self-esteem as it is brightly-spangled clothing, make-up, and music. So why not pair it with another classic, “fruit”-flavored (I guess?) cereal: Fruity Pebbles! Just like Jem offered up a mix of the level-headed Jerrica and her wild(ish) alter-ego Jem, Fruity Pebbles mixes together your mainstream crisped rice with neon-colored counterparts of the same ilk. Together they form a blast of texture and flavor that can be matched only by Jem’s unique sound (/internalsnicker) and sequined get-ups. Plus, Fruity Pebbles does look a little like neon-colored sequins. And nothing says “flavor” like…uh, plastic sequins?
Thundercats and Super Sugar/Golden Crisp
Of all the superhero-esque cartoons of the 1980s, from Spider-Man to Super Friends, Thundercats was far and away my most favorite. I mean, I adored cats back then (still do, of course), and here were a bunch of cat people saving the galaxy! I even made a very poor and ill-forseen attempt at being Cheetara once by drawing black spots all over my right shoulder, which pleased my mother immensely. As a kid, the Thundercats were nothing less than super, and so to was, in my eyes, Super Sugar Crisp, or Super Golden Crisp once the breakfast cereal people decided that maybe it wasn’t great to advertise the word “sugar” outright in kids’ cereals. It was probably the one cereal that I coveted most out of all the eye-searingly-colored cereals back then. (Okay, so it’s just super-sweetened puffed wheat, something I didn’t know back then.) A super cartoon like Thundercats deserves nothing less than this “super” cereal, even if it’s mascot is a little, um…less than super.
Inspector Gadget and Apple Jacks
While most cartoons simply offered flash-in-the-pan entertainment, some were edutainment in disguise. Though hardly advertised as “good for young minds,” Inspector Gadget proved to be something of a training ground for a young me. The truth that I found wasn’t in Inspector Gadget’s crazy, wacky gadgets, but it was in Penny, the techno-wiz niece of said crime-fighter who really solved all of the mysteries, with the help of her dog, Brain. Penny’s fortitude and problem-solving skills still stick with me today, not only in a “girl trying to make it in a man’s world” sense, but also in remaining pragmatic and humble. With that, I offer the pairing of Apple Jacks, a sweet cereal that tastes like neither apples nor jacks. It’s a cereal that’s been around the block a few times and knows how to get things done. It doesn’t need any applause to feel like it accomplished something. It is and will always be. Just like the all-knowing and all-seeing Penny.
He-Man and Frosted Flakes
I imagine that many of us have stories revolving around massive toy collections that were eventually ditched by one’s parents. For us, that was He-Man. Not only was the cartoon an absolute Saturday morning staple for most of its run, but for several years we had He-Man figures for miles, along with couple of the castle playsets. (All of it eventually ended up in yard sales and the trash.) The cereal pairing here is a an easy one that’s really all about tigers. With Frosted Flakes, you got Tony the Tiger, a mascot for the ages. With He-Man, you had my favorite tiger sidekick, Cringer/Battle Cat. Man, Cringer was a really goofy tiger, but he always made me laugh. And I’m sure that if I had been hopped up on Frosted Flakes at the time, I probably would have laughed even harder at him.
Alrighty folks, sound off in the comments with some of your favorite childhood cartoons, cereals, and/or pairings of the two!