While groping through the stack of boxes on top of the fridge...the Captain Crunch and the Avengers and the other boxes of dried marshmallows and sugar sparkled munchie crunchies...I found a bag of Puffed Wheat. They don't call it that, nowadays, and it has a sugar glaze on it that is unfamiliar, but it still evokes memories of other cereals we ate, back in the antedeluvian days of my minority.
Puffed Wheat was pretty much the bottom of the barrel. None of the cereals we bought had any added sweetener--that would have been out of keeping both with poverty and the post-war austerity that remained my parents' philosophy throughout my childhood.
Once, when we first moved from England to Canada, we visited friends of my parents in Montreal. As I was quite taken with the idea of a toy in the cereal box, they opened the box at the bottom so I could have it without having to eat my way through all the cereal first. Sheer decadence!
We had Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix, All Bran and, occasionally, Bran Flakes. Nothing with sugar, but everything with lots of fiber or, as we called it, Roughage. Roughage was considered necessary in order for one to be Regular. As the workings of the bowel were only ever discussed in the vaguest of terms, the reason for this remained a Mystery.
Most of the cold cereals went to mush pretty fast, except for shredded wheat.
On any of them, I was allowed a scant teaspoon of sugar, but often snuck in more. Even though there were two of them and only one of me, they couldn't watch me all the time.
In winter, there was hot cereal; Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. I am faintly nostalgic about the fights that ensued when I just couldn't choke the stuff down. Of course, one was not allowed to out-stubborn one's parents and the stuff tasted worse once it had cooled and congealed, but you can't blame me for trying.
Of all the disgusting mushy things I was forced to eat, the only one that still makes me want to hurl is rice pudding. I can choke down tapioca, grits, and Cream of Wheat...and quite enjoy oatmeal, properly cooked, but rice pudding is beyond me.
Isn't it amazing, what a bowl of Puffed Wheat can do!