Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ragged Robins

Bloomberg News reported this week that several breakfast cereal manufacturers have fallen on hard times. Translation? Sales are down and layoffs are up. This blog wouldn’t normally touch on financial issues, and I’m not about to get into statistics and pie charts, now. Nor am I going to give you the old yada-yada that eating breakfast is go-o-od for you, because anyone with half a brain already knows that.

I read the news about cereals as I tucked into an omelet at the breakfast table. The irony of that wasn’t lost on me - it’s been a long time since I’ve bought a box of corn flakes. 

What are these breakfast cereal killers? Yogurt ... granola bars ... fast-food places offering donuts ... hand-held foods featuring ham, egg, and cheese on a muffin ... pop-up waffles and tarts … You’ve got the picture! 

Hot cereal was once a breakfast staple. Cold cereals later commandeered the marketplace, with happy roosters crowing from package fronts and cartoon characters named Snap! Crackle! and Pop! to brighten our mornings. 

Cereals showed their dark side with overly sugared products bearing such names as Count Chocula, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Franken Berry, in which I suspect an aging marketplace has little or no interest. Cereals then started getting “healthy” - if you consider honey-sweetened granola and sweetened clusters with sticky raisins “good for you.”

On a visit to the Czech Republic a couple of years ago, I politely suppressed my giggles on seeing a cold cereal called “Miss Fit” - but you don’t need to travel that far to find a cereal lost in translation.

In Canada but not in the US, the cereal giant that is the Kellogg Co. sells a product called “Vector.” The cereal features a large “V” on its packages, which has puzzled, appalled, and amused me for years. Has the world gone entirely mad, or is it just me?

The word “vector” has a couple of definitions, one of them being a mammal, bird, insect or organism that transmits disease pathogens. To cite Wikipedia: “In epidemiology, a vector is any agent (person, animal or microorganism) that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism.”

To have chosen this word as the name for a cereal Kellogg links to health and fitness eludes me, but to have placed a large “V” on the package mystifies me even more.  With sales of more than a billion units, a well-known rat and mouse trap - the US-made “Victor” brand - features a similar “V” as part of its logo.

Clearly, there is no link or association between these two products. I’m sure “Vector” is a very good cereal, but I’ve never bought it, being unable to move past its unfortunate name. 

Numbers drive today’s world. As Bloombergs report suggests, it’s a rat race out there. 

PS: I hope I’m not being unfair to Vector. None of the comments published on Kellogg’s website questions this cereal’s name, so perhaps this isn’t a big deal. Here’s one of many laudatory comments that caught my eye:

By Capt. Planet 

Cereal Rating (out of 5):

Vector cereal is the best thing that's ever happened to my life. 10 years ago - I lost my prized tortoise in a sailing accident and it devastated me. I didn't know where to turn but Vector cereal was always there for me, whenever I would feel sad I would get a fresh bowl of Vector and it would raise my spirits tenfold and I would be filled with love for all creatures of the world. It also has 13 grams of protein for when I lift things up and put them down.

Comment submitted: 4/12/2012 (#7124)

What can I say? The lesson here is that tortoises and sailing dont mix.

These excellent drop cookies are a recipe from my childhood. I’m happy to say they use corn flakes. 

Ragged Robins:

2 egg whites
½ c. granulated sugar
Dash salt
¼ tsp. vanilla
1-¾ -to- 2 c. corn flakes

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Beat egg whites until frothy. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating until no “grainy” feeling remains when you rub some of the sugary egg white mixture between your thumb and index finger. Add salt and vanilla. Gently stir in corn flakes until well distributed. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 15 min. on oven’s centre rack. Makes about 3 doz.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to find a long-lost favorite recipe? Want to submit one of yours, or simply leave a comment? Always happy to hear from you!