Cereal Eats: Wheaties, a Champion Among Cereals


[Photographs: Jessica Leibowitz]

My dad is a lifelong sports fan. Growing up, the sounds of WFAN AM 660 permeated nearly every car ride, my dad chiming in with his heavy Brooklyn accent. I remember his exclamations coming from the den, as he sat in a haze of pretzels. He went to baseball fantasy camp at age 50, can pick up any sport and master it, and made-do playing catch with two uncoordinated daughters. Though they no longer exist, he is still a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and never warmed up to the Yankees. He claims his diehard sports fan days are over yet an any given moment, he can still be found swinging an imaginary baseball bat or golf club.

True confession: none of this rubbed off on me in the slightest. Growing up, I was horrible at sports, HORRIBLE. My track record is as follows: held the position "left center field" in softball, skipped mandatory soccer in middle school to eat candy bars in the woods behind the field with some other weird friends, and failed to make a single basket in my ill-fated three-year basketball career.

How does this all relate to cereal? Well, I'm fairly certain that there's an important football match coming up (Giants vs. Mermen, maybe?) so I thought I'd be "festive." And cereal + sports = Wheaties.


For scale, left to right: Wheaties, cornflakes, Cheerios.

The famous "breakfast of champions" slogan was introduced in 1933 when Wheaties began its association with sports. Over the years, athletes of every kind have graced the box cover, from baseball players to olympians, even Muhammadi Ali.

The slogan is one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history; Wheaties is an American icon.

And yet, I had never tried it until now. All the hype aside, Wheaties is a freaking awesome cereal. Looking at the dark brown flakes, and despite its name, I expected a flavor similar to bran flakes. But the difference between bran and wheat flakes is immediately apparent. While bran flakes deliver a grainy sweetness, with nearly no crunch, wheat flakes are thin, snappy and crisp with a welcome toasty flavor.

Just like Special K, they may fall into the "cardboard" family for some. But it's a well-done basic, much like Corn Flakes. It's the perfect neutral base for additions like fruit, but I also happen to love it in all its just plain old cereal-y glory. The flakes are large, displaying a bold confidence like the athletes they feed. It's almost like grabbing a handful of chips; there are even some folded flakes in the mix. (Anyone else LOVE folded chips?)

As I sit as my desk eating countless handfuls, unable to be stopped, my mind wanders to bright lights and cheering crowds. I can almost smell freshly cut grass on a football field (there's...grass on those right?) and the sweaty scent of victory. Maybe this is my sports moment. This one is for you, Pop.

What do you say, Wheaties fans?