A tasty breakfast treat. (Philip Wolf photo)

A tasty breakfast treat. (Philip Wolf photo)

COLUMN: Does your guilty pleasure involve a captain, a tiger or a cartoon monster?

WOLF: The siren song of sugary breakfast cereals remains hard to resist

I could feel the eyes following me.

First, the spidey senses started tingling. Then I saw him. I casually averted his gaze and continued on my way. But I knew he was watching. A quick glance over my shoulder confirmed my suspicions. Odd-looking fellow – bizarre grin, old-timey moustache, eyebrows somehow suspended out front of his nautical-themed hat. Clearly staring right at me. So rude.

He didn’t seem to be bothering any of the other people quietly going about their business around us but I knew I had to take matters into my own hands.

I purposefully marched right up to him, then paused slightly, now noticing he had backup – a half-dozen more exactly like him. I grabbed him, shook him slightly and then dropped him… right into my grocery cart.

My first-ever box of Cotton Candy Crunch, featuring ol’ Cap’n Crunch himself.

Do you have a guilty pleasure (G-rated, of course)?

Something you know isn’t good for you but you’re drawn to it anyway. You tell yourself each time will be the last, knowing full well you’ll be back.

Mine is an odd one – sugary breakfast cereals.

I’ve been oddly obsessed with them since I was a wee broth of a lad. It was the whole forbidden fruit scenario.

For the most part, our Mum wouldn’t let us near the stuff.

Shreddies and Weetabix were about it in terms of cereals for us. I could only gaze in wonder at Frankenberry, Count Chocula or Fred and Barney shilling Fruity Pebbles. Toucan Sam’s Froot Loops? Not in our house. Trix? Silly rabbit, not for us kids. Frosted Flakes? They may have been grrrr-eat but I mostly had to take Tony’s word for it.

There were the odd glorious exceptions. My one buddy’s mother shockingly allowed the “it’s so terrible for you” stuff in her home. So the odd sleepover there meant me routinely rebuffing full-on hearty breakfasts of eggs, pancakes, sausage… you name it, in favour of asking, in my best Eddie Haskell voice, “that looks delicious, but would be be OK if I had some Sugar Crisp?” (Can’t get enough of that).

When we were very young, the other exception was camping. Remember those little variety packs?

There were always one or two gems – Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes or Sugar Corn Pops – surrounded by cardboardish blech like Bran Flakes or things called ‘Pep’ or ‘19’. Some of our sibling squabbles over those (we had what amounted to drafts, each picking our own choices) were epic.

There was actual bartering and I often resorted to skullduggery – waking up early, eating the good ones and dealing with whatever punishment came my way. Worth it.

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As we got a little older, the restrictions relaxed some, especially once I was able to successfully argue that me putting 15 spoonfuls of sugar on my Shreddies was likely the nutritional equivalent of two bowls of Lucky Charms. So once in a blue moon, we were able to make our own choice of cereal, regardless of their content. But even then, I felt a little bad about it.

And that followed me into adulthood. Even though I theoretically could have purchased whatever I wanted, I could still hear Mum’s voice, guiding me to the Shreddies every time I considered a cereal purchase.

As a parent, I didn’t have to institute any type of prohibition, cereal just wasn’t a favourite for the next generation. Dino Eggs oatmeal was about as close as it came.

Now, the odd thing is I’m not a huge cereal guy anymore. Actually consuming it pales in comparison to the joy of making the naughty purchase. Our pantry routinely overflows with cereal boxes as I make new discoveries. When I go shopping, I always buy all the fruits, veggies and healthy stuff to fill the cart first and feel better before I head down the cereal aisle in search of a potential cavity-inducing adventure.

“Chips Ahoy cereal? No way!”

“Timbits in a cereal? Yes! Better post that to social media.”

“Chocolate Lucky Charms? What a great day!”

I then get home, slog through one bowl of the cloyingly sweet taboo treat, offer some up to everyone else in the house and then away goes the box, to be seen again only during purges when room is needed.

Happily, though, I have found what amounts to a compromise. Banana Bread Flavour Shreddies. Exotic enough to make it a ‘sneaky’ purchase, but still Shreddies. Mum would be so proud.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at philip.wolf@blackpress.ca, on Twitter @philipwolf13 or by phone at 250-905-0029. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

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