Wheaties features a convicted child-abuser on latest box.
By Andrew Pridgen
There is plenty of scary business going on at the grocery store. That new green-labeled cola (Coke Life!) with a main ingredient called Stevia which sounds like a week-one vote-off on RuPaul’s Drag Race but is actually an extract from a South American plant from the Asteraceae family. Even though it’s not straight sugar or straight acesulfame-K and aspartame (Diet Coke), at the very least rainforests are being plowed under to grow it.
There’s the curdled masses in yoga pants who’s either not age-appropriate (too young or too old) or streamlined enough to create an effect other than bulging where they should cling and clinging where they should bulge. Not everyone look airbrushed and glossy like on the checkout rack, but sometimes it’s OK to go out in public dressed for an occasion other than binge-watching Facts of Life and taking down Chips Ahoy by the sleeve.
There’s all the stuff in the middle aisles of the store: stoner pizza and guys with tufts of hair sprouting from their tank tops grasping the thin cotton straps like ivy.
There’s the elderly woman who is pushing her cart like an Egyptian slave, cataracts causing the chip aisle to be mistaken for the adult undergarment section. Somehow she makes it to the check-out with nine items, all for her cat, or is it cat food she’s eating? And the folks look away, pretending to busy themselves with whatever Kardashian it says is pregnant and getting dumped this week.
There is something a bit off about the grocery store. This transient place where everything one could ever want in all the history of human time: strawberries the size of a baby’s fist, chicken breasts bigger than a country fair watermelon and more french bread than all of Provence consumed last year—is available, taken for granted, really. Yet for all the advances in food engineering, packaging and eating trends—we seem so much less healthy for it.
We repeat our actions there, the same track around the store: pharmacy ->alcohol->meat->cheese->bread->lettuce->fruit->gum->swipe->forget our reusable bags->ask for paper in shame. We act surprised as the total ticks over $100 for what was supposed to a quick-in to pick up a couple of things, this zombie walk for sustenance that is obligatory if not an exercise in being wasteful. When I grew up we ate three things: 1) Five different versions of a casserole featuring either ground beef or pork chops, canned corn or canned tomatoes and cream of mushroom or cream of tomato soup. 2) bananas or apples and 3) Grape Nuts or Wheaties.
In an effort to streamline back to the basics of shopping (minus the pork chops), I’ve started to peruse the cereal aisle. Cereal has a renewing quality. It reminds me of the start to a day and of being small at the start of life again. I still look lustfully at the colorful, 3-D-looking boxes of Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch. Were I to select one, I’m sure a siren would sound throughout the store and my mother would burst from behind an end-cap of Lays chips and drag me out by my ear. She was the sugar cereal Gestapo.
This particular morning on a run for milk, coffee and bananas, decided I’d grab for the Wheaties. My son is old enough to start taking bites of that milky fibery cardboardy stuff and it was better time to pass on the tradition that will one day, if he eats ‘em up and trains hard, end with him as the 8th man on his JV basketball team.
Here’s where the passage of this morning tradition it gets complicated. This is the current star of the Wheaties box:
All Day shows up with a tagline that says, “Determined Spirit”. I have no idea what that means other than it might reference his lawyers’ dedication to keeping him out from behind bars. In case the General Mills folks need a refresher, this is the last 15 months in the life of the face of your brand:
- September 12, 2014: Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, and subsequently deactivated from playing.
- September 17, 2014: Peterson was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which required Peterson remained “away from team activities.”
- After accepting a plea deal in early November, which Peterson admitted to beating his child with a switch that resulted in, among other injuries, tearing the child’s scrotum, the NFL suspended the Minnesota Vikings’ running back for the remainder of the season with no pay.
- February 26, 2015: Peterson was reinstated to play after the NFL Players Association won its appeal on Peterson’s behalf.
- March 21, 2015: Adrian Peterson rides into his 30th birthday party atop a Camel.
- March 30, 2015: The Minnesota Vikings have not reinstated Peterson. Rumors in the wake of league meetings are that a “quiet” deal to send him to Dallas in exchange for draft picks will ensue.
April 4, 2015: I spot Adrian Peterson on a Wheaties box in a Southern California Vons, but decide I won’t be introducing my son to the cereal until they come up with a more suitable theme, like maybe a Bruce Jenner before-and-after tribute box: A cereal for kids which has been marketed for almost a century with a role model on the box…and that current role model is a convicted child abuser (!!!).
To me, Wheaties represents a kind of soggy rite of passage that is way more part of this complete breakfast than the one with the Leprechaun on it. Maybe General Mills has just given up. Maybe putting Peterson on the box is simply admitting the face outside the box just as bad as the product in it.
After all, breakfast these days is about good carbs (fruit, oats, yogurt), protein (eggs, nuts, whey) and natural fats (avocado, eggs again, butter) — not about the soggy mush that you can dry out and use to create one scary-ass Freddy mask with your friends.
So go ahead kids, order up an omelette and go tell your mamma, what child abusers eat.