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New angle on cereal

There's the Orange, Rose and Super annual bowl games that pit bulk against hulk - whose victors claim gargantuan trophies, loads of cash, and the title of FOOTBALL'S FINEST.

Another contest of skill and finesse, though hardly hyped, is played out each morning at breakfast tables all across America.It's The Cereal Bowl . . . the challenge of finishing a bowl of cereal before it gets soggy.

Man against Muesli. Women vs. Wheaties. Kids combatting Special K.

Play action in the Cereal Bowl begins with rapid spooning, chewing and swallowing. This is the only chance for Cereal Bowl players to enjoy a few bites of crunchiness before the inevitable dreaded sogs set in, ruining the previously flaky food.

Salt Laker Kevin Shamy has been ruminating for years about the sogs, searching for a solution to the wasted cereal/milk dilemma. The father of four children would cringe every time he'd walk into the kitchen and see half-full bowls of milk left after a cereal-fest.

"I'd dump all that milk down the drain," Shamy recalls. "I'd say to the kids, `why don't you eat your cereal and they'd say `IT GOES SOGGY!"'

Shamy understood. He, like the majority of cold-cereal eaters, didn't savor the sogs.

Then one day while sitting at the breakfast table, he tilted his bowl and noticed that the milk stayed at the bottom of the bowl with the cereal above it.

That was it . . . touchdown! All his fretting over mushy morning meals was over.

Shamy demonstrated his brainchild bowl to us during a recent interview. After we saw his invention in action, we felt crunch-deprived. Why didn't we have these cereal savers when we were whining through our mooshy-gooshy cornflakes as children?

The heavy plastic bowl has an angled interior - a slanted design created to keep cereal up and out of the milk - remaining high and dry. After pouring Frosted Flakes or whatever in onthe high side of the bowl, milk is poured into the lower side. As you spoon, the dry cereal on the high side is pulled into the milk as desired, keeping the remaining cereal crunchy.

Still, the concept needed to be consumer-tested, so I took a couple of New Angle bowls home for a field test. My children pronounced them "rad," and ate cereal out of them exclusively. They actually searched through the dishwasher and washed the bowls so they could enjoy their non-soggy Crispix.

Shamy, a marketing specialist, is aware of the huge amount of money cereal companies spend to keep their products crisp and crunchy longer. His cereal bowls will cost around $6 and are just being stocked in grocery stores.

Consumers usually pour about 1 1/2 cups of milk over their cereal, according to Shamy's studies. A big selling point of the New Angle bowl is that it only uses 3/4 cup of milk.

"You save almost $1.70 in milk on every box of cereal you consume," Shamy says. "If you're paying $3 for a box of cereal, now you're only spending $1.30 for that cereal."

The premise is: Cereal won't be getting soggy, so the kids aren't going to waste milk. Makes sense. The projected savings are staggering. Shamy says that if a family eats three boxes of cereal a week

- saving $1.70 in milk on each box - that's a $270 savings on the grocery budget for a family of four.

Corporate cereal mavens aren't the only ones who want to solve the soggy-cereal dilemma. A group of eighth-graders from Pullman, Wash., conducted the most extensive sogginess testing we know of.

The slightly flaky-but-fun experiment was aimed at finding the cereal that stays crispiest and crunchiest for the longest period of time without becoming soggy.

Their research was based on a few assumptions. Their definition of soggy was: when a flake absorbs enough milk so that when it's placed on a wall, it sticks in place. (These findings were inspired by the age-old method of testing spaghetti's doneness - the Wall Throw. If it sticks, it's ready to be eaten.)

One flake each of Wheaties, Corn Flakes, Wheaties Honey Gold and Frosted Flakes were placed in separate bowls of milk. A series of 16 trials with 15 second intervals of soaking in the milk were conducted. After saturating, each flake was placed on a 60 degree angled dry-wall board. Each flake was ranked by how far it slid or stayed put. Sliding meant crunchy.

The results of this slightly suspicious test showed that Wheaties Honey Gold slid to the bottom of the wall most often. (Soggy doesn't slide!) Following close behind was Corn Flakes, then Wheaties, and finally, Frosted Flakes.

Locally, Shamy and his partner, design engineer Mike Sandstrom (who handled product prototyping), has incorporated and become the New Angle company. Shamy says that New Angle is an organization specializing in new ideas that benefit consumers and save them money."

Shamy and his brother created the packaging. The bowls, made from melamine (a material similar to but harder than melmac) come in red, white and blue; and recently won first place at a home show in the new product category.

The biggest sellers on grocery lists are, in order, soda, milk, and cereal. The cereal category alone is a $7.4 billion business.

Those of us who can't stand the sogs can look at breakfast from a new angle.

And put an end to cereal murders.

*****

Recipes

LITE CHERRY COFFEE CAKE

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt

2 eggs

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

A dash of salt

1 cup light sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12-ounce package frozen dark sweet cherries

Prepare topping:

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Stir in margarine spray; add pecans and cereal. Refrigerate until needed.

Prepare cake:

Combine sugar, yogurt and eggs; mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sour cream, vanilla and dry ingredients to sugar mixture; mix well. Fold in frozen cherries. Coat a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cook-ing spray. Pour batter in dish; sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes. Serves 12.

- From Betsey Kurleto

FAKE FRIED CHICKEN

4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned

1 cup yogurt, plain

2 cups corn flakes

1/4 teaspoon each of the following: paprika, oregano, thyme, pepper and salt.

Pinch of hot pepper flakes

Put cereal in blender along with the seasonings; blend until cornflakes are fine. Roll skinned chicken pieces in yogurt; roll yogurt-covered chicken in cornflakes to coat. Put chicken in a shallow roasting pan sprayed with Pam. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour. Serves 4.

- From Morten's Recipe Collection

ALICE CANNON'S BRAN MUFFINS

6 cups All-Bran Cereal (16 ounce package)

2 cups boiling water

1 cup melted shortening or oil

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 quart real buttermilk

3 teaspoons baking soda

5 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, pour water over bran and let stand until water is absorbed. Mix in shortening, sugar, eggs and buttermilk. Combine flour, soda and salt in separate bowl, mixing well. Add flour mixture to bran mixture.* Place cupcake papers in muffin tins and fill each half full. Bake muffins at 375 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes. Batter may be stored in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Makes LOTSA muffins!

- From Alice Cannon

- NOTE* Raisins, nuts, dates or chopped apple can be added to the batter just before baking.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CRUNCHY COOKIES

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 large egg yolk plus 2 teaspoons water OR 1 large egg white

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup Rice Chex, crushed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk mixture or the egg white. Add the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the vanilla, stirring until the dough is blended well. Stir in the chips and the cereal. Arrange level tablespoons of the dough 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Transfer the cookies with a spatula to a rack and let them cool. Makes 16 cookies.

- From Gourmet Magazine

MORNING MUESLI BREAD

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup safflower oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups Muesli cereal, crushed

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 X 5 X 3-inch pan (or two small pans). Crush cereal in blender or Cuisinart to equal 11/3 cups. Reserve 1/3 cup. Combine sugar, milk, eggs, oil and almond in small bowl. Combine flour, cereal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture. Press reserved cereal on top. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and turn out on wire rack. Freezes well. Serves 6.

- From Harborside House Bed & Breakfast, Marblehead, Mass.