Skip to content

how to eat cold cereal

July 9, 2009

Finally, a guest post by cereal-eating expert Lowell Tieszen, my dad. Enjoy!

If happiness is having a bowl of cold cereal before bedtime, security is having an entire case of Wheaties under your bed. Growing up on the farm in Montana, we didn’t go grocery shopping very often, so when we went to town we stocked up. Why my dad chose to store the cases of cold cereal upstairs under my bed, I don’t know. But I’m glad he did. Not only did it help me sleep well, but it contributed to my overall optimistic view of the future. You see, I love cold cereal.

Some of my earliest memories center around eating a bowl of Wheaties before going to bed. In college, I survived on Wheaties and Corn Flakes, sometimes eaten with water if I couldn’t afford or had forgotten to buy milk. But I always lived by my mother’s Cardinal Rule of Cereal: no more than two bowls a day. Oatmeal at breakfast counts as one bowl, so you can only have one bowl of Wheaties after that—until bedtime. I live by this rule to this day. My wife, never terribly impressed with my diet, has tried tweaking the rule for years to no avail. She feels that if I have even one bowl of cold cereal for breakfast, I should waive the before-bedtime-bowl. This is obviously unreasonable. Tampering with the Rule of Cereal is like changing the Articles of the Constitution. It just would not be wise.

At an early age, I perfected the proper procedure for eating cold cereal. Not that my way is the only way; it is just the right way. I have observed others do it improperly, and can attribute this shortcoming to either lack of experience or parental failure. I share what I know for your benefit, with hopes that these tips will be passed down to future generations.

1. Fill the Bowl to Slightly Heaping (Regardless of Bowl Size).

Slightly, not severely; to overdo the heaping would be greedy and piggish. You want just enough heap so that when you crush it down with your hand, it perfectly levels off to the brim of the bowl.

2. Sugar.

Did I mention that sugar-coated cereal is disqualified? Sugar coated cereal is like candy and should never be eaten for breakfast or bedtime snack. The sugar should be dumped in the center of the bowl, not sprinkled all around. About a teaspoon and a half is the proper amount, regardless of the size of bowl.

3. Milk.

Real milk (4%) is preferred. (Accepting 2% milk has been a major compromise in my life. Unless 2% is half the price, we are getting ripped off.) Pour the milk directly over the pile of sugar in the middle of the bowl. The sugar will dissolve and be distributed from top to bottom. Some stirring is necessary to sweeten the edges. Some have criticized this method, saying that it takes the sugar to the bottom of the bowl where it is wasted. This is wrong. If sugar accumulates at the bottom, a) you used too much, b) you poured the milk on too fast, or c) you failed to adequately stir the edges.

4. Timing.

Crunchiness is not as desirable as TV advertising would have you believe. If cereal stayed crunchy all through the eating, our mouths would surely take a beating. Ideally, the first few bites should be crunchy, but as we progress, we want some soaking to occur, so that by the time we finish, the last few bites are soggy enough to smear around in our mouths without hurting us.

5. Routine Maintenance.

With each spoonful down the hatch, the level in the bowl goes down and bits of cereal stick to the sides of the bowl. These bits should be routinely shoved back down into the milk with your spoon and leveled off to keep the bowl of cereal in tip-top shape. Some people will comment about the noise you are making by tapping the side of the bowl with your spoon in this fashion, implying that it is annoying. You should ignore them. These are probably people who don’t change the oil in their cars or don’t purge their inboxes for months on end or don’t grease their bicycle bearings. You are better than that. Eat your cereal as if it means something to you.

6. Milk to Cereal Ratio.
Milk left in the bottom of the bowl is evidence of a serious problem. One might think this is caused by too much milk in the first place, but this is not the case. There are two causes for this imbalance. The first is called “fishing”: scooping up a spoonful of cereal and draining the milk before taking a bite. This is wasteful, disgusting and definitely not green. Cereal and milk go together, and separating them is against nature. Secondly, the problem may indicate improper crushing (see #1). There wasn’t enough cereal in the bowl to start with. Do not try to alleviate the problem with less milk, as you will get neither proper sugar distribution nor adequate soaking. It can only be rectified with more properly-crushed cereal and the refusal to “fish.” With a little attention to these details, everything will come out even.

Others can have their coffee and cigarettes, their Diet Cokes and candy bars. I’ll be content with a cereal habit—and that only two times a day.

Related Posts
Cereal Girl (Cereal Serial, Part 1)
How to Eat Jelly Bellies

Advertisements
23 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2009 10:42 am

    Oh my word, this post was amazing!!! I say he takes up blogging full-time! 🙂 And being another cereal fanatic, I do agree with the entirety of this post. One question. What are his feelings on HONEY in lieu of sugar?

  2. Becky permalink
    July 9, 2009 11:12 am

    oh my…wow. haha. great post

  3. July 9, 2009 11:43 am

    Wow! I’m seeing cereal in a whole new light, thanks for opening my eyes! And your dad sounds super cool!

  4. July 9, 2009 12:08 pm

    “I live by this rule to this day. My wife, never terribly impressed with my diet, has tried tweaking the rule for years to no avail. She feels that if I have even one bowl of cold cereal for breakfast, I should waive the before-bedtime-bowl. This is obviously unreasonable. Tampering with the Rule of Cereal is like changing the Articles of the Constitution. It just would not be wise.

    At an early age, I perfected the proper procedure for eating cold cereal. Not that my way is the only way; it is just the right way. ”

    Those few sentences are AMAZING! I might add, that Lowell has a historical attitude for his cereal, only to rival that of John Adams when dealing with the new Republic. I could just see your Mom’s expression on her face when dealing with his stubbornness on this issue.

    I love this entry! Again, I state that he needs his own blog… entitled “Just Tieszen”. I really think it would be a hit.

  5. July 9, 2009 1:59 pm

    “If cereal stayed crunchy all through the eating, our mouths would surely take a beating.” -Work on that line. If you can re-do the first half, it would have a nice, flowing poetic element. Otherwise, you’re a cereal killer.

  6. Amy permalink
    July 9, 2009 5:01 pm

    What genius! This gave me some needed laughs. Reading this entry also makes me wish that I could see Lowell and Nita on a more regular basis.

  7. Davy permalink
    July 9, 2009 7:23 pm

    I have to admit this cereal crunching and bowl scraping habit drove me crazy EARLY in the morning growing up; however, Dad you are welcome to come crunch your corn flakes at our house in VA anytime you want to!

    It’s funny how something as simple as cereal can bring back fond family memories. 🙂

  8. Jesse Peterson permalink
    July 9, 2009 7:39 pm

    Lowell,
    Great post.
    Two thoughts:
    1) On certain occasions I have thought that a bowl of cereal just before bed would be a real treat. But the thought has almost always been counter-acted by another opposing thought along the lines of, “You can’t do that, silly. Cereal is only for the morning.” To which my original thought sadly responds, “Oh, ok,” and gives in. But you’ve given me the courage to run with nighttime cereal. So I’m going to go out right now and buy a box of Wheaties.
    2) Secondly, I must beg to differ with you on one point. The scraping of the side of the bowl may be a form of cereal maintenance but love toward others must be the higher value in this case. I have experienced far too much annoyance at the hands of well-intended maintenance-ers to agree that such side-scraping is a good and necessary act. (If Chris Tachick should happen to be reading this, I’m not thinking of him from the days in Apt 105. Not at all.)

    Jesse Peterson

  9. July 9, 2009 8:50 pm

    Oh my goodness, Jess. I left a comment earlier, but it didn’t go through, I guess.

    But, now that we’ve talked amongst CEREAL displays at the Mill City Museum, it seems almost pointless.

    But, I’ll just say it again. I love me Lucky Charms…in SKIM milk no less (but not for breakfast! That’s no way to start a day.) Skim doesn’t stand a chance against the marshmallows. They turn the milk greenish purple within seconds!

    • July 9, 2009 9:05 pm

      Hmmm… looks like we both check our blogs when we get home from concerts. It was great talking with you in person!

  10. Leon Toews permalink
    July 10, 2009 7:37 pm

    Well, this certainly demands a response from a fellow cereal lover. I must give it some cerious thought. I don’t think fast, but I think good (and my grammar is well) Your double cousin, Leon

  11. July 11, 2009 3:15 pm

    Yes, oh yes.
    Cereal is a ritual.
    “Eat your cereal as if it means something to you.”
    Right on!

  12. July 11, 2009 3:33 pm

    There’s a sweet Father/Daughter “cereal scene” in “What a Girl Wants” w/ Colin Firth.
    Maybe you’ve seen it?

  13. July 11, 2009 4:39 pm

    Thank you, Lowell, for not being too selfish to keep this art all to yourself.

    I’m highly motivated to go have a bowl right now, in fact, but I think my side split while I was reading your post, and I’m afraid it won’t stay in anymore.

    By the way, my heart (and metabolism) has grown strongly fond of Raisin Bran in recent years. Could dried grapes be considered a fair substitute for sugar?

  14. Lowell permalink
    July 12, 2009 6:31 am

    Thank you for your kind comments about the cereal article. Jessica gave me the assignment and I wass happy to
    oblige. A few questions came up in your comments that need to be addressed. First, about the honey. I am not the
    maverick in the family and couldn’t tell you. My method has not changed since about 1960 and I’d be a little leary
    of tinkering with it now (the slippery slope principle). My guess would be that honey in cold milk would stay clumpy
    and wouldn’t stir in very well. But I could be wrong. I would question the purpose however. There is nothing more
    natural and pure than a sugar crystal.

    The raisins, on the other hand are revolting to me. I know many people who like them, though, so I won’t be judgemental on this. My aversion to raisins stems back to my elementary school days when we were forced to
    eat everything on our plate at lunch before we could go out for recess. I gagged through many a recess on my shredded carrot and raisin salad. No, I can’t do the raisins.

    A more difficult issue is the one about scraping the side of the bowl being an unloving act if it annoys others. The
    issue is theirs. It might be good to tone down the gusto with which we perform said maintenance for the sake of
    making less noise, but I think it is more of a grace issue on their part. When your neighbor mows his lawn, the
    mower noise can be irritating for a short time, but you understand that he is doing what he needs to do. Wouldn’t
    you agree that that applies here? Our, sure, we could make a rule or pass a law to prevent anyone from annoying
    anyone else, but is the greater good really served when we restrict another’s freedom to do what he/she feels is
    right (and enjoyable)? If we did, the net loss of satisfaction and contentment in the household would certainly come to bear in some other area (and the neighbor’s yard would be a jungle which would decrease the value of your house).
    Joy is joy. Let it happen.

  15. Leon Toews permalink
    July 15, 2009 8:22 pm

    A few observations, Lowell, on your cereal article. As I recall, you were not comforted at the thought of the Wheaties under your bed but rather had a hard time going to sleep thinking about it and wishing you could get up and have a bowl. At the Toews house, we seldom, if ever, had cases of Wheaties. It was always Corn Flakes because, of course, Corn Flakes were cheaper and we had a whole lot more mouths to feed. Corn Flakes were always available, Cheerios were next in line and Wheaties was what we all longed for.
    The cereal discussion is incomplete without talking about mixing. At our house we have always mixed sweet cereal with unsweet, crunchy with soggy, etc. Once when our son went to a friend’s house he, as was the custom in our house, mixed two or three kinds of cereal together and they thought that was pretty gross.
    I totally agree with you on the milk part. I can hardly stand it when guests come to our house, fill their bowl with cereal, fill the bowl with milk, then proceed to fish the cereal out and leave all that yummy milk to be thrown out. Why? It’s like eating the crust of a pie and throwing the rest away. So….if you come to our house…..
    Leon

  16. July 19, 2009 10:22 pm

    “A more difficult issue is the one about scraping the side of the bowl being an unloving act if it annoys others. The
    issue is theirs.”

    Talk about intolerance. WOW! I cannot stop laughing. Seriously.

Trackbacks

  1. antique tractor show « ten digit lumber
  2. how to eat jelly bellies « ten digit lumber
  3. what’s in a name « ten digit lumber
  4. grains « ten digit lumber

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: