When Associate Writer Steve Wulf wolfs Wheaties, it isn't exactly an event. He's been doing it all his life, which is the amount of time he estimates he spent researching and writing the story on Wheaties that begins on page 66. In real life (which often imitates real sport), he started working on it last spring, and "One of the things I discovered," he says, "is that most athletes really do eat Wheaties."
Wulf' s story led us to survey our staff to find out how they start their day, and we have made a discovery of our own: Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, is Assistant Managing Editor Mark Mulvoy's father-in-law. Chuck Flynn, who played the part on radio from 1939 to 1951, is alive and well and living in Miami, but Mulvoy says, "I've never seen him eat a bowl of cereal. His idea of breakfast is coffee and maybe a Danish." His four Mulvoy grandchildren have a different notion of how to start the day: At last count there were no fewer than 12 brands of cereal in the Mulvoy larder.
A survey of the childhood breakfasts of SI staffers disclosed not only a wide range of preferences in cereal, but also an astounding array of vices. Greed, jealousy, yea, even lust. As we all know, cereal is often not the only thing to be found in cereal boxes.
Staff Writer Craig Neff recalls not only rooting around for the prizes in the boxes, but also sending in the box tops for such treasures as "a blue plastic wristwatch with a secret compartment—which could have held my right contact lens. Also, baseball cards, golf balls, racing cars, glow-in-the-dark marbles and a plastic ring with a secret compartment that couldn't have held anything."
Reporter Lisa Twyman says bitterly, "I never got the prizes. My brother left for school an hour earlier than I, so he had already dug his grimy little paws to the bottom of the box to get the decoder ring, or whatever it was down there."
Reporter Ivan Maisel conned his mother into buying Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which he hated, for the 3-D baseball cards they offered. Says Maisel, "I would dump out the flakes to get to the card, which was always at the bottom, and then try to get the flakes back in. Do you know how hard it is to pour cereal into a box? I never did eat those corn flakes." And then there is Reporter Cathy Wolf, who remembers "lusting after an inflatable rubber raft," although "assembling the requisite box tops, coupons and quarters always seemed beyond me."
Reporter Bob Sullivan's preference for cold cereal was essentially esthetic. "Because my mother and Madison Avenue told me hot cereals 'stick to your ribs'—to them a selling point—I turned immediately to cold. Things sticking to my ribs seemed a distinctly unattractive prospect. I wanted my breakfast to bypass my ribs entirely and land quickly in my stomach."
And finally there is Writer-Reporter Franz Lidz, who once wrote an article on an attack of writer's block he claimed was cured by Alpha-Bits. "A flotilla of words," he says, "surfaced through the bananas and milk."