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Carrol Vertrees: So many breakfast cereals, so little time

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:21AM



Grover Phillips was a little fellow, but in the Elnora of my childhood he was a big man — his grocery store was on the corner near our downtown stop sign.

The store was little, but big enough. I think of it as I shop in our huge food emporiums, especially when I am checking out the cereals — he had enough, but now there are hundreds, including “Elijah’s Manna” and “Fruity Pebbles!”

On and on they go, and now a company is ready to ship some of its wonderful stuff to China!

Grover’s place had Corn Flakes, Post Toasties, Wheaties, Bran Flakes (the 40 percent version) and some others.

The Wheaties boxes have pictures of champions, the inference being that the champs ate the cereal and it helped them jump higher and run faster. We should know better, but it doesn’t matter.

My mom was creative — farm wives were made that way. It was essential. She took her rolling pin and crushed dried toasted homemade bread into a powder. We put sugar and Jersey cow milk on it and had a wonderful cereal. We called it “Chicken Feed,” and I thought it would be nice to see her picture with the rolling pin on a box of Chicken Feed — we could have called it the “Rolling Pin of Champions.” It did not work out, unfortunately.

We could have sold that stuff in China and created a big market for rolling pins made in America.

Grover’s store was a helpful place, but one day even it could not help my dad find an item on the grocery list. My mom dictated the list and I, the best speller in the county’s fourth grade, wrote it down. My dad came home frustrated, saying he could not find “bacon powder” in the store. The problem was that my mom meant baking powder, but I wrote it wrong, the way it sounded.

Later, in my incredibly successful adulthood, and near the end of my pre-hearing-aid time, Mrs. V and I went shopping and she sent me out to get a loaf of bread. I searched and reported to her that the store did not carry Home Fried bread. She looked at me in her stern Methodist air of sympathetic understanding and, now get this: “I said Home Pride bread.”

I am not a born loser, but I try. But this much I know — people who can’t hear well should wear hearing aids. Misunderstanding could start a war, or a touch of discord at home.

I stood, looking puzzled, in the cereal row the other day and this dignified looking woman, a young person probably about 60, was searching, too. I said, just to sound intelligent: “Confusing, isn’t it?” She nodded and I read her lips!

I nodded, as in “Me, too.” Then I sped away with my cart, lest she see me blushing. I had grabbed a box of, now get this, “Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles.” I left it with the checkout girl, saying, “This was a mistake. Keep it.” And she said, “Yes, for you it is a mistake.” I think she figured I was too old for that one. Maybe too old, period. That hurts.

In my reveries, sometimes I yearn for a bowl of Chicken Feed. And I wish they still made Chocolate Donutz, Dinersaurs, Crazy Cow and Freakies. I never got to try any of them, and I feel deprived.



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