Sunday, July 31, 2005

Froot duped

Of all the perfectly good reasons I’ve given myself to doubt my own sanity, here’s the thing that finally convinced me that my mind does not work correctly: Froot Loops don’t have different flavors. I could have sworn I tasted cherry in the red ones and lime or a hint of asparagus in the green ones, but they’re all the exact same thing. Apparently, if you squirt blue dye on a pork rind, a human brain will automatically make it taste like a blueberry.

I know this because a friend of a friend went to the Froot Loops factory. A tour guide showed him the spot where a zillion white Froot Loops go by on a conveyor belt, and are then diverted to separate areas, where, as the tour guide informed my friend’s friend, the colors are added to the Froot Loops.

“You mean that’s where the colors and flavors are added,” said my friend’s friend.

“No, just the colors,” said the tour guide. “There aren’t any different flavors.”

So there you have it: indisputable fourth-hand proof that what I’m telling you is true. I hate to use anonymous sources, but I’m afraid that my friend’s friend’s identity must remain a secret, because I forgot his name. Ron or something like that.

The Froot Loop flavor revelation doesn’t blow my mind as much as the first time I Googled the word “Liger,” but it’s up there. It’s also quite possible that my source is unreliable, and everything I’ve just told you is completely untrue. Should that be the case, I can only hope that Toucan Sam doesn’t follow his nose to his lawyer and slap me with a lawsoot.

Perhaps I’ve already put too much thought into this matter, but I am very interested in all things pertaining to cereal, because that’s what I eat for dinner most nights, due primarily to my wife Kara and I being afflicted with severe culinary impairment. We both have two left spatulas. Even if we did know how to cook, we’d have a hard time rousting up enough motivation to do anything about it. By the time we both get home from work, even pouring a bowl of cereal seems like an extraordinary hassle. Around our house, “gourmet” means Honey Nut instead of plain.

Kara’s favorite thing to watch while we eat our cereal is, of all things, cooking shows. To me, that’s like prisoners on death row watching the Travel Channel.

“Don’t be afraid to put too much butter on the lobster tails. You can always drip the extra into your garlic mashed potatoes like so,” chirps the TV, as my Oat-y Wheat Blossom falls off the spoon to meet my drool on the coffee table.

My favorite thing about those shows is the claim that you can prepare the featured meals in thirty minutes. I know from Kara’s personal experience that this is a highly dubious assertion; Kara has actually attempted to follow some of the recipes. She will be sautéing in three pans at once, and the clanking in the kitchen sounds like she’s smelting steel in there.

“Where’s our dill weed?” she’ll call to me.

“He’s in here ordering pizza,” I’ll reply.

I’m not being entirely truthful -- Kara has discovered that it is indeed possible to cook Thirty Minute Meals in thirty minutes, just like the show claims. The trick is to have your production assistants go grocery shopping several hours ahead of time, picking up things like tarragon pellets, papyrus chips and evaporated marjoram. When they get back, have them measure out all the ingredients, lining them up in little glass bowls in the fridge. That way, you’ll be all ready to cook when the hair and makeup people are done with you.


  1. Hah! The first to comment - I feel special. So was Wicked as wicked as I heard it was?

    I learned something new - I never realized that Froot Loops were only one flavor - I suspected but could never be definitive. You're right, our brains see different colors and trick us into tasting a certain element of the flavor. Great topic for the office tomorrow. Call Oprah - it would be a great show topic.

  2. Dude, I'm a MAN. I don't go to musicals.

    But if I had gone to see Wicked with Kara last weekend, I'd probably have thought that it was really frickin' good, though I certainly would not have, hypothetically, cried.

  3. I haven't eaten Froot Loops since I was a child, but I'm disappointed all the same . . . sigh . . .

  4. The depth of the truths in this week's column have really touched my soul. Especially the part about assistants putting the ingredients into little glass cups. I'm a really good cook and can do pretty fancy stuff, but it looks like a bomb hit the kitchen and I've usually been chopping since 8am. Maybe if I had someone do my hair and makeup first? Do you think hair and makeup is the key to culinary success? I will explore this. Mike, you are a man of great wisdom.

  5. i love to cook, however having all those weird ingredients in your house is kinda hard. and did i read right, you saw wicked??? i really want to see it...that and avenue q

  6. You will bust a gut laughing at Ave Q

  7. You know what's amazing? Marjoram is the same thing as oregano!!! I was dumbfounded when I learned THAT lil' tidbit. In face, I never really recovered. I'm still kinda dumb.

    As for Ligers, they're real, man. They're real.

  8. This bit of info really freaked me out. Great story, excellent writing and all... but I'm still freaked out... can this possibly be true???
    I would actually avoid eating the yellow ones because they tasted like lemon.
    Do you think the same is true of Trix??? Cause... I don't think I could handle that one.

  9. My tip on cooking:

    If it isn't done in 20 minutes, fry it. In butter.

    Add sour cream or ketchup.

    Put it on bread.

    Eat it with expression of great satisfaction.

    (That should be possible in the remaining 10 minutes)

    And since I don't have hair any more (on my head at least), the hell with the make-up.


  10. I am not disappointed about the Froot Loops, now I'm just craving a bowl. It seems in our eat-only-nuts-roots-and-fiber-lifestyle, we forgot about Froot Loops along the way.

    As for the cooking, my wife and I also watch the 30-minute show that you are referencing. We think of ourselves as experienced cooks, and we still can't pull off her recipes in 30 minutes. I love the part where she says "I like to wash all of my veggies when I get home from the store, then store them in plastic bags with paper towels." Who has that kind of time?

    As a related side note, I am working in Savannah, GA this week, and I ate at Paula Deen's (Paula's Home Cooking) restaurant last night.

  11. Ceral, its whats for dinner!! I love Froot Loops and have passed the tradition on to my children. My daughter will debate you though on the colors being different flavors. I warn you, she is a tough sell.

  12. No, marjoram and oregano aren't the same. Marjoram is closer to parsley. It's mild, with a nicer flavor than parsley. If you substituted oregano for it, you'd have a nasty surprise. Oregano is strong and bitter.

    Seasoning 101 is now dismissed.

  13. See, I always thought they were the same flavor, but I thought I was the crazy one. Redemption! As it turns out, I'm the "normal" one and it's the rest of you who are nutballs!! HA-HA! Then again, if anyone should know about all things fruity, it's me.

  14. Devo, you been smoking too much marjoram?

  15. Mike, if I HAVE been, I'll be pretty pissed...

  16. loved this column! :) born with two left spatulas... *shakes head* too funny!

  17. Looking for central air conditioning info I found your post. I agree!