July 20, 2024
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One of the most difficult decisions every parent has to make, on a regular basis, is what kind of cereal to buy. It seems pretty trivial, but it’s a very regular basis, because your children tend to go through cereal at a highly alarming rate.

And this doesn’t seem possible. You make chicken two nights in a row, and everyone complains. But your kids can cheerfully eat the same cereal every day of their lives. As long as it’s not one of the ones you like.

Plus they eat cereal between meals. In fact, according to statistics that I just now made up based on some of the people I know, cereal is more popular at midnight than it is for breakfast.

And forget bowls—kids are just sneaking into the kitchen and grabbing handfuls of cereal out of the box all day, and then at suppertime they say they’re not hungry. The manufacturers do try to help you out by making the interior bags as noisy as possible, but your kids have figured out how to take cereal silently by doing such things as not bothering to close the bag after breakfast.

So here’s an idea: Why not buy a cereal they don’t like? That’ll last. But of course you don’t want to do that, because what’s the point of buying something they won’t eat? Especially this close to Pesach.

Or you can just buy Pesach cereal! That’ll show them.

Who even gives them the right to decide that there’s a cereal they don’t like? I say there’s too much variety out there. There are more varieties of cereal than basically any other kind of food. Cereal became a popular breakfast food in the first place because people didn’t want to have to think about what to eat in the mornings—they just wanted to grab something quick so they can eat and drink at the same time and then get out the door.

In fact, cereal was probably invented by accident. I know that when I’m making coffee, which I usually do before I’ve had my coffee (this is the worst time to make coffee), I sometimes accidentally use juice instead of milk or put coffee grounds on my cereal or butter my phone, and I’m pretty sure this is how cereal was invented as well. Someone had a bowl of cookies or chocolate or whatever, and he accidentally poured in a full cup of milk, and said, “Hey! This is pretty good! Ma, is this healthy? And his mother, who had not had her coffee yet, said, “Okay. Whatever. Go to school.”

Point is, it was invented to avoid having to think in the morning, and now there are so many choices that we have to think. Unless we have a rule like, “You can’t open a second box until the first box is finished.”

Wait. Is that why they plow through the first box so quickly?

So the best idea is to do what the yeshivas do. Yeshiva food has never really been what you’d call “good,” ever since the old days, when your grandfather used to get bread and water, except on the days that he just got water. And it wasn’t even filtered. The bochurim had to filter the water themselves, using a sock from the dorm.

And this is still what yeshivas do today, except for the sock: They put out food that the kids don’t love, but that they’ll eat if they have no other choice. Remember that they have to feed hundreds of bochurim, and you know how bochurim eat when it’s a food that they like. The yeshiva doesn’t want to have to spend your entire tuition on a meal plan.

And they don’t just do this with lunches and suppers—they do the same thing with whatever cereals they buy. Which is why the kids all bring their own boxes, which you buy. So basically, the yeshivas are winning.

My point is that you should do the same thing, at least when it comes to cereal, because let’s face it—even your 5-year-old eats cereal like a yeshiva bochur—three to four times a day, often while standing, and usually while staring vaguely into the distance.

So the key is to buy the ultimate meh kind of cereal, like Cheerios. Nobody loves Cheerios. It’s the ultimate compromise cereal. Everyone says, “Okay, I’ll eat it.” And their parents say, “Okay, you can eat it. Make sure to throw some chopped fruit on it, like in the picture.”

Not one person does that.

I actually tried it once, and it’s not as good as it looks. Bananas do not absorb milk.

You can also buy Corn Flakes. Everyone will eat Corn Flakes, and if they don’t like it, they can turn it into Frosted Flakes by dumping in a ton of sugar. But no one’s going to nosh on handfuls of Corn Flakes all day, nor are they pouring sugar into their hand to eat it with. They could put the Corn Flakes on chicken if they want, but then you win!

No one’s eating Frosted Flake chicken.

Rice Krispies is a good cereal for this too, because number one, it’s not actually chometz, and number two, if you don’t want to sell it, you can make it into Rice Krispies treats. You can’t make Cheerios treats.

So that’s the plan—Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. Or what is known in Yiddishkeit as “weekday cereals.” You can still buy a limited amount of sweetened cereals, and those would be for Shabbos, so the kids will eat them only on the one day a week when they have no real way to get their energy out, and then bounce off the walls while you’re trying to get them to sit down for cholent.

See? I never understood the concept of Shabbos cereals growing up, but I eventually came around.

What do the goyim do?


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has seven books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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