Just looking at the box would bring a smile to a child’s face. The ridiculously happy bee, the perfectly white milk, magnified crispy honey loops – all promising a sensational gastronomic experience. Plus, the designers have made sure to appease and convince parents to buy their kids this sugary trash with educational fun facts, puzzles, and activities on the back of the box. Examine the contents of the cereal bags, and the magic fizzles, however. Nevertheless, Textasy is about becoming ecstatic about words, not about food.
The front of the box promises “exciting information on the theme of nature along with fun games and riddles” and all accompanied by Professor Fox. As will soon turn out, excitement cannot be contained. But before embarking on this exciting intellectual adventure, there’s more. The corners contain most of the vital information: what, how much, & how to. What? 67% whole grain. How much? 600g divided over 2 bags (20 portions of 30g each). How to? After much trial and error, scientists concluded that a bowl works best. And apparently this cereal won some random DLG Gold Prize in 2013.
Contrary to the name of this cereal manufactured in Lübeck, further investigation of the ingredients and nutritional value side of the box reveals that the rings aren’t actually honey rings; they’re wheat rings with honey. In fact, 67% of the cereal is made up of various forms of wheat and honey only makes up a meager 2.9% of the cereal. Looking at the nutritional values, most of it looks reasonable except for the sugar value. Almost a third of the cereal is sugar (29.5g/100g). Not a very healthy breakfast after all. (Apparently “health” is not one of the criteria of the Institute Eurofins Wiertz-Eggert-Jörissen quality test which is not surprising seeing as Dr. Thorsten Christian, who runs the test, is a food chemist.) While the cereal is suitable for vegetarians, those with milk and (pea)nut allergies, beware, as the cereal may contain traces of them.
Now for the fun stuff. The other side of the box introduces us to Prof. Phileas Fox, no doubt a wise and highly educated figure who researches the “numerous Wonders of the World”. Next follows a pop quiz to wake you from your morning slumber with questions on volcanoes (the box’s theme). Apparently, Europe’s largest active volcano is located in Sicily – not in Iceland where in 2010 the Eyjafjallajökullasdfoiwjeafjaweixjcwintyss volcano disrupted flights and left people stranded at airports for days. Also, it is possible for grass and plants to grow on the highly fertile cooled lava after an eruption. After the momentary distraction, we’re reminded of what this cereal box and its fancy educational tidbits are truly about: trying to sell you more cereal. (“Try our other delicious products! And the best part is: on each new box you’ll find more games, info, and exciting collecting cards on nature and technology.”)
The back of the box features a variety of activities. First up: building your own volcano. While the following may come to mind:
the reality of a kid’s cereal box activity is duller in comparison. Using a plastic bottle, a mini sand hill, baking powder, food coloring, and an adult, you can create your own volcano in the sandpit at your local playground. Advantages of this method versus the possibly lethal coke/mentos rocket: the experiment can be repeated multiple times and the risk of death is significantly reduced. Also, despite the sand, no small items (a.k.a. mentos) that the average toddler will feel inclined to choke on. Hence, very child-friendly.
To test your expanded knowledge on volcanoes gleaned from a morning’s perusal of this cereal box over a bowl of honey rings, there’s an ‘Expert Quiz’ to prove your worth. Basically, if you did alright on the previous pop quiz, expert status is basically a given. And otherwise, the answers are (*spoiler alert*) provided RIGHT NEXT TO the questions. To wrap it all up, there’s a completely unrelated activity on creating a sand drawing, possibly using some of the bug-, snot-, and diaper contents-infested sand from the previously mentioned sandbox.
All this effort put into a simple cardboard cereal box may seem philanthropic and generous, but in the end, it’s still all about advertising and brand image. Crownfield (the cereal brand) likes to remind its consumers of its contributions to science and education by plastering their name all over their packaging and encouraging you to visit their website and buying more of their products to learn more about science. Although mildly entertaining, the box isn’t likely to hold your attention for more than a few mouthfuls of cereal (excluding the volcano building exercise) unless you’re under the age of 10. Nevertheless, despite the shameless advertising, it’ll still beat whatever’s on TV your kids would rather watch.