My Special K story is from England. In the late 1990s, my husband and I were there for several months due to his job assignment. I’m not a huge fan of cooked breakfasts, and they certainly didn’t have grits or biscuits and gravy so while we were at the Sir Christopher Wren House Hotel in Windsor, I always ate at the cereal buffet.
There was one particular cereal there that I just loved. One day I asked the waiter what it was. He must have thought I was crazy. He said “Special K”.
Here was an American, in England, asking a Balkan waiter to identify an American cereal for her.
Which reminds me of another cereal story. When I was a child, we usually had a cooked breakfast, but also had cold cereal on hand. Now I can’t remember which kind it was (probably Wheaties or Cheerios), but they always had really neat toys and things to cut out on the back panel. Well, my brother and sister and I didn’t like that cereal but we always wanted the “free” stuff. We’d talk my mother into buying it, dig the toy out, then we wouldn’t eat it. She probably ended up eating it herself or putting it in meatloaf or something, but it was a real sore spot with her and understandably so.
By the time I was about 10, I wouldn’t eat hardly anything. It drove my mother to distraction trying to figure out something that I would eat besides potatoes, Campbell’s Vegetable Soup and sunflower seeds. Oh, occasionally I’d eat one of her hamburgers (but never at a hamburger stand), or canned chow mein or a peanut butter sandwich or a grilled cheese (my mother called them “toasted cheese”). And vegetables – I’d eat most of them. And I was pretty skinny. Even my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Lewis, called me “Crane”.
Anyway, by then, Mama would buy about anything she thought I’d eat. So I had CocoPuffs and Sugar Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms (are you getting the sugar drift here?) and Toast ‘Em Pop Ups, etc. Sadly for her, by the time I was in high school, I’d stop at my dad’s store every morning and get a bottle of 7-Up; a half bottle was my breakfast. I don’t think I ever told her that I’d go to a doughnut store for lunch. This could explain all those silver fillings in my mouth.
Skip ahead a few years to when our sons were small. I made my own granola and if I bought any cereal it was not sugary; it had to be healthy and cheap – which severely limits the field. Once when my parents were visiting, we went to the grocery store. Our older son asked me to get… I don’t know… Count Chocula or something… and I said that I wasn’t going to buy that sugary cereal.
My mother almost fell on the floor in shock. She said “Well, I always bought it for you!”
And it’s true – she did buy it for me.