March 30th

theresa albert - my friend in food


The life of a Cereal Killer

Fibre cereal

In my childhood, cereal held a special place.   Weekdays meant Cheerios or Corn Flakes and the ritual of sitting at the table scooping the crunchy stuff into my mouth while reading the box, both the English and the French.  (This is why Canadians who can’t speak French know what “gratuit” and “croustilliant” mean).   Companies seemed to know this and made the boxes colourful, fun and captivating.   Sometimes there were even prizes inside or outside (I still have the Bobby Goldsboro 45 record I cut off the back of one of those boxes and it still plays on my old turntable !).

Saturday was a special treat: Sweet cereal; the stuff mother wouldn’t let us have the rest of the week.   Heaven was curling up in flannel pajamas in front of the big cabinet TV for Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of Cocoa Puffs, Honeycomb or Capt’n Crunch.   Since the parents slept in, multiple bowls were in order and I ate the sugary nuggets until my tongue broke out in little sucrose-overload hives.

The most decadent of all was reserved only for when I was home from school because of illness.   In that case, only Lucky Charms would do and as being sick equalled special treatment, I could just pick out and eat the marshmallows (…”hearts, moons, stars; always after m’Lucky Charms!”…).

As a mom, I only allowed my kids the sweet cereals when we were on vacation though I confess to tempting them to eat  a hot breakfast with the magic of DinoEggs.   Being a practical and resourceful gatekeeper, I mixed one packet of the sweet stuff with one packet of the plain oatmeal and parceled out the candy “eggs” judiciously.

Now in middle age, cereal means “fibre intake” and I purchase accordingly.   Instead of colourful sugary shapes, it’s little brown sticks or pebbles and my “candy” is usually berries or sometimes the odd banana.   Still, I’ve come to love the hearty crunching as my brain slowly gets its synapses firing for the day ahead.

My treat nowadays is cereal as a midnight snack.   It really is ideal; it’s got the crunch, a little flavour, the soporific milk and it’s light enough so that I don’t fall asleep feeling guilty.   Still there are days when I think pyjamas, Bugs Bunny and a bowl of decadence would do a world of good.   Mmmm… Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs!



Ilana Waldston is the mother of two teenage girls who keeps sane by singing. A graduate of the prestigious International Cabaret Conference at Yale, she’s been delighting Toronto audiences with her comedic patter and well-honed ability to sell a song. She’s a self-professed foodie, loves to bake, travel and dine (often all at once) who sometimes sings of food in songs such as “My Diet Starts Tomorrow”, “Dieter’s Prayer” and “Foodblooz”. In addition to her solo work, she’s also a part of Toronto’s only female jazz quartet, The Satin Dolls...


One Response

    March 10, 2011 at 6:47 am Reply

    Ilana this is so cute! I have the same memories AND the same present… midnight snacks of cereal and high fiber cereal with berries (and ground flax seeds!) . You are a wonderful writer!

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