Eat Your Cheerios

I am sitting on the porch, eating a bowl of Cheerios, trying to think of something to write about. Almost every morning I combat writer’s block with a bowl of Cheerios.

Cheerios are a proven cure for writer’s block. I know this because when we used to take multiple-choice tests in grade school, our teachers always told us to eat a healthy breakfast beforehand so we could focus.

And it must’ve worked. Because most of my classmates ate Cheerios and made great scores. Sadly, I ate Captain Crunch and i wuz held bak a cuple grades.

But somewhere along the way I switched to eating Cheerios during boyhood, and my grammar immediately became a lot more gooder.

The truth is, eating Cheerios is one of the few boyhood habits I still engage in on a daily basis aside from taking Flintstone vitamins and cleaning my nostrils manually.

I love Cheerios. I’m crazy about them. I don’t need fancy flavors like honey-nut, cinnamon-sprinkled, yogurt-covered, or coconut-toasted. Just give me the classical yellow box and a jug of two-percent and I’m good to go.

I’m sure you’ve already heard, but Cheerios turned 80 this year. And while the birthday of a famous General Mills breakfast cereal might not strike you as a big deal, it is to me. And there’s a very important reason why: Because I needed a topic to write about this morning.

Think about it. How many old-world American brands are still around? How many products from the golden days of your youth are still on the store shelves?

Each year we lose another iconic institution that made our childhoods special: Chiclets, Slo Pokes, Woolworths, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, General Foods, Billy Beer, etc. Those things are gone now.

The world changes so fast that it’s impossible to keep up. Each morning you awake only to discover that a new Olive-Garden-Old-Navy shopping complex has popped up in your backyard. American nostalgia vanishes a little more each day.

Case in point: How many Kmart and Sears stores have you seen around lately? The answer is: Hardly any.

Kmart, a sacred American pastime, founded 122 years ago in 1899, a company which used to operate 2,100 stores nationwide, recently shut down most of their stores. Currently, there are 17 Kmarts remaining in the U.S.

But Cheerios, by golly, is still going strong. You can still walk into any grocery store in Anytown, USA, and purchase a box of puffed whole grain oats just like when you were a kid.

And bonus, the box looks pretty much the same as it did during the Roosevelt administration, back when Cheerios’ official spokesperson was the Lone Ranger himself.

Yes. The Lone Ranger. The masked hero and Cheerios have a long and beautiful history together.

General Mills began sponsoring episodes of the “Lone Ranger” radio show in 1941 which is likely what helped Cheerios become the most successful cereals of all time. It also helped an entire generation of children learn about the explosive benefits of oat-based fiber—but that’s another subject.

It was an era when your average American family moved slower. When fathers still owned Sears Roebuck & Co. ratchet sets and changed their own motor oil; when mothers still wore layered dresses to check the mail. When “The Abbott and Costello Show” was considered cutting edge comedy, and Ted Williams was still swinging a bat.

It was also a period in history when, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30 P.M., the Lone Ranger instructed 45 million youthful radio listeners to get off their keesters and buy a box of Cheerios.

In those days you would have seen images of the Masked Man printed right on the cereal box.

Cheerios offered a host of promotional gimmicks, contests, and prizes, but their most unusual promotional stunt took place in 1951 when General Mills announced that 10 lucky children could “win a trained white horse” by competing in a Lone Ranger coloring contest.

Personally, I would have enjoyed witnessing an average fifth-grader win a horse. I like to imagine this kid maybe living in, for example, Detroit, when his quarter horse got delivered.

I would have loved to have seen that kid’s dad’s face when he got home to find a 900-pound thoroughbred corralled in the garage with the family Studebaker.

But getting back to Cheerios. There has never been a time in my life when a box of Cheerios wasn’t in my pantry. From childhood to adulthood. My father ate Cheerios, so did his father. I still eat them almost daily, and I have a feeling children will be eating these oats for a long time.

So yeah, I guess I’m a little excited about the 80th birthday of an American breakfast cereal. If for no other reason than because I couldn’t find squat to write about this morning.

That, and I’m hoping General Mills will send me a horse.


  1. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 29, 2021 6:48 am

    But what will the dogs think?

  2. countrylifegal - October 29, 2021 6:50 am

    Still love Cheerios!!🥰 Thanks for the great History lesson!!

  3. Norma Den🇿🇦 - October 29, 2021 7:04 am

    🇿🇦 Can’t be sure I’ve ever seen Cheerios here in Africa, but I agree, so many known brands all gone through the years, from foods right through to knitting needles. Sad fact of the great modern era. We have Cadbury’s chocolates still, but can’t find Cadbury’s cocoa powder anymore. Good old memories though. Enjoy your breakfast.

  4. Larry Kessler - October 29, 2021 8:56 am

    I serve as a missionary in Russia and s as m pleased to find Cheerios in the store there. Fun fact: they eat them with warm milk as they believe cold milk is harmful to your health. I use cold milk!!!

  5. Melanie - October 29, 2021 9:05 am

    Cheerios were about the only boxed cereal allowed in our house. One time my brother and I told our Grammy that “Dad lets us have Lucky Charms”. We lied. When he found out he was mortified but I still remember that taste of sugar freedom in a bowl. And here is a sweet ode to Chiclets
    I had no idea they were gone.

  6. Alice - October 29, 2021 9:18 am

    @generalmills Please, send him a horse.
    Enjoy your Cheerios. 🙂

  7. Leigh Amiot - October 29, 2021 9:48 am

    Multi-Grain Cheerios with banana for me.
    And as far as nostalgia—Nabisco Bacon Thins—I miss those addictive little oval crackers!

  8. Sandi. - October 29, 2021 10:53 am

    Word has it that your horse is on the way, Sean. So go out and buy yourself a saddle and bridle pronto! We know you already own a cowboy hat and boots.

  9. Ruth Mitchell - October 29, 2021 10:55 am

    Ohhh! You and that big yellow box put a big old smile on my face. What I like about reading your blog is that throughout my day, I have flashes of the images you create. Thanks to you that on this blue, bleary day predicted by James Spann, I’ll be seeing yellow!

  10. Te - October 29, 2021 10:59 am

    I remember listening to The Shadow Knows on the radio on Sunday afternoons, along with a couple of others. I’d lay on the sofa while everyone else was outside or gabbing around the dinner table. You had to use your imagination to picture it, and that may be the start of my love affair with words – reading them, and later, writing them. Television wasn’t even an idea, nor air conditioning, but radio fired the imagination of small kids to be the Lone Ranger or Sky King. Cereal wasn’t involved.

  11. niobrarariverrat - October 29, 2021 11:01 am

    Hi Sean,

    I like plain old Cheerios, too, but they are harder to find here now in these days of supply chain shortages.

    You’ve been an inspiration to me. I finally wrote my first book, and it was released today. Thanks!

    Do you know where the Lone Ranger takes his trash? To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump!

    S. G. Benson

  12. Audra Isenhour - October 29, 2021 11:10 am

    Cheerios was the first finger foods for my kids and went with us in small containers everywhere to keep the little darlings entertained, and quiet. I am sure whoever cleaned our church found a few I missed when pick up time came. BTW, I am 74 and I still buy and love my Cheerios. Good for the heart they say…lol

  13. Debbie g - October 29, 2021 11:13 am


    Enjoy your pictures 😀😀maybe as good as you get love you Sean and Jamie and love to us all

  14. Katrina Butler - October 29, 2021 11:20 am

    For so man children, Cheerios is their first solid food. It is their first finger food and the first food they use to master spoon to mouth eating. In some cases it’s their first word that generally comes out as “Ro-ros” or “Oli-oli-ios” Cheerios travel with children from babyhood on in zip lock baggies, plastic boxes and butter tubs, right through the school years. They are a portable snack that show up at sporting events, long road trips, and spontaneous picnics in the back yard. No milk necessary. Oh they are also used in childhood art work. Elmer’s glue and construction paper with Cheerios designs and creations are masterpieces on refrigerators across the country. Then there are Cheerios necklaces and bracelets strung on string or yarn. That same craft can also be used as a bird feeder when tied to a tree limb. There is no end to the uses and pleasures of Ro-ros.

  15. Betty Hawley - October 29, 2021 11:46 am

    Cheerios was introduced on May 1, 1941, as “CheeriOats”. The name was shortened to “Cheerios” in 1945 according to my research. I was born in 1945 and when I first spoke I called the cereal Cheerioats but when I learned to read, I realized my error. It was my usual breakfast then, I raised my four children on Cheerios and there is a box in my cabinet now. It has only now been sometimes replaced by steel cut oats. It has become my cereal for better health since I am a three-time cancer survivor and am being tested now for a fourth.

  16. Karen Erwin-Brown - October 29, 2021 12:11 pm

    my oldest grandson, age 7, had Cheerios and 2% last Saturday morning at my house. It’s also a go to for supper many nights when nothing else sounds appealing. Hi Yo Silver…away….

  17. Sandy Costello - October 29, 2021 12:24 pm

    You may not know it, but a baggy of Cheerios is staple for outings with toddlers. Thanks for your column!

  18. Liza - October 29, 2021 12:43 pm

    Loved this one, too!

  19. jill - October 29, 2021 12:45 pm

    Cheerios, Crisco, Bond Bread, Doctor visits to the house with little paper envelopes to dispense medicine. A much slower pace of life, sitting on tree limbs, feet keeping time to an inner beat, counting cars going by (5 in a day was a high). Halloween when you were invited into homes and drank apple cider and hot chocolate safely, walking 3-5 miles, emptying candy into bowls and going out again. I almost panicked last year when Cheerios shelf was empty. Now I make sure I have enough to last a month. 🙂 I miss the well worn hardware store floors, a lb of candy corn for a dime, Grants, Acme, Pennys, Sears, Macy’s, Gimbles, Strawbridge and Clothier. Thanks Sean. A certain peace comes over me thinking back that far, and while not perfect, it was a good time to be alive.

  20. Paul McCutchen - October 29, 2021 12:55 pm

    Love Cherrios, Growing up in rural Arkansas, I remember when the truck came to deliver cereal to my Granddads country store. His new product was Captain Crunch and my brother and I got a small box (we didn’t get sugar cereal). It was like a birthday. We ate the Captain Crunch while walking home.

  21. Pete Black - October 29, 2021 12:58 pm

    Great article! Only Sean could make a box of cherrios into a wonderful, funny story!

  22. Karen - October 29, 2021 1:36 pm

    I hope you get your horse. I worked at a Woolworth during high school and college. It was very vintage even then. I loved the smells and the activity. I met many people. I learned so much from working there that helped me in the professional world. Those stores were great places to shop. I miss the really neat prizes from the Cracker Jack box.

  23. Nancy Crews - October 29, 2021 1:41 pm

    ❤your writing. I would love to see the smile on that little 10 year old boy in Detroit when that horse arrived.

  24. Betty Green - October 29, 2021 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the memories. You brought back a lot this morning.

  25. Sue Adams - October 29, 2021 2:07 pm


  26. Linda Chapman - October 29, 2021 2:20 pm

    Love you, Sean!

  27. JonDragonfly - October 29, 2021 2:22 pm

    I’ve caught up with the modern age, I clean my nostrils digitally.

  28. Heather Miller - October 29, 2021 2:29 pm

    I’m 84 years old. My favorite was Rice Krispies, with a 1/2 banana sliced on top. My brother ate Corn Flakes every day of his life, and I mean EVERY DAY until he was hospitalized and passed away last March. Cereal. Comfort Food complete with memories of a lifetime. But just think, Sean, about the writers of the Lone Ranger sagas, Red Ryder, Amos and Andy, The Shadow….that one scared the daylights out of me. Those writers had to pump out sagas that were spell-binding to kids every week for almost forever. Had you been a writer then, YOU could have done it! With your eye for life events, you could have written fantastic weekly sagas for each program, and never run out of material!! Thanks for being here now, and writing the best of the best stories. Sometimes I go through three Kleenexes when I read you. Sometimes I laugh. Oh! I entered a contest to win a horse when I was around nine. I cleared out an area of the back yard for the horse. I prayed for the horse and imagined riding to school on the horse. Seeing as we lived in a city in California, where the powers that be of the city wouldn’t let you own a rooster, Mother prayed I wouldn’t win because my psyche would be damaged forever. I survived. I still eat cereal, which advertises the amount of fiber, protein, etc. on the box. Tasty, but way too healthy.

  29. Gayle Doddd - October 29, 2021 2:36 pm

    I wanted that horse so badly

  30. Mandy Froberg - October 29, 2021 3:48 pm

    My favorite Cheerios memory: My son was potty training and had some Cheerios in his hand that he dropped by accident. Some landed in the toilet. Suddenly potty training got a whole lot easier. It became a game to “sink the cheerios” and he had to have Cheerios in the bowl for a good year after that. The good news? He has excellent aim.

  31. Nancy Carnahan - October 29, 2021 4:07 pm

    My mother always and we three girls always wore dresses. We had an old fashioned man of the house. But I have no idea what a layered dresses are.

  32. John - October 29, 2021 4:15 pm

    Mandy! Your comment made me laugh so much! Thanks for brightening my day.

  33. Tim Peace - October 29, 2021 4:16 pm

    As as kid, I remember that there were little white “O’s” all over the yellow box. They appeared to move around as you moved or shook the box. I’d look at the box as I ate and every so often, I’d flex my arm and check my muscle to see if it grew any…like a cartoon figure in a Cheerios commercial I saw back in the 60’s. That flavor still takes me back to my childhood.

  34. Molly - October 29, 2021 5:40 pm

    Loved that story. I don’t remember having many Cheerios because they may have been more expensive than Corn Flakes….yuck! I still rarely eat cold cereal. I do use lots of various kinds for cookies though.
    A friend who is an excellent babysitter has always used the “one Cheerio in the commode trick” for potty training litttle boys.

  35. Linda Moon - October 29, 2021 5:40 pm

    If I detect some deficiencies or blocks in your writing, check your mailbox. You might find some Cheerios in there. I didn’t already know that Cheerios is now 80….wow. My father not only owned Sears Roebuck & Co. tools, he worked there. God love our fathers and children and grandchildren who’ve been eating Cheerios, some of them for a long time! I like your morning cereal and squat today, Writer. Gallop away when the horse arrives, Rider, into sunsets and more columns!

  36. Steve McCaleb - October 29, 2021 6:18 pm

    Hiyo Silver…AWAY!

  37. Carolyn from Georgia - October 29, 2021 6:31 pm

    Sometime try Cheerios with Vanilla (sweetened) Almond Milk!!! YUM!!!

  38. Ann Syfert - October 29, 2021 7:02 pm

    Guess what I had for breakfast this morning?

  39. Becky+Souders - October 29, 2021 7:37 pm

    Billy Beer? Seriously? …. so many other really good replacements! Thanks for the “cheery” smile today.

  40. Naomi - October 29, 2021 9:08 pm

    I’m 77 years old and I eat Honey Nut Cheerios. My brother and got to meet The Lone Ranger and Tonto one Saturday at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham. We also stood in a line in our coon skin hats to shake hands with Fess Parker who was playing Davey Crocket at the time. When I finally got to shake hands with him, I thought he was bigger than a tree; I kept looking up until I could see his face. A department store in Birmingham sponsored him. I also got to meet The Cisco Kid and Poncho at the state fair in Birmingham; I was there with my Girl Scout troop, and they were “hitting” on all of the teenage girls (dirty old men).

  41. Mike Bone - October 29, 2021 9:09 pm

    Pony………they don’t send horses. Too big.

  42. Peggy ALEXANDER - October 30, 2021 12:35 am

    I love Cheerios. But after reading this I will have to settle for corn Flakes. I don’t have Cheerios

  43. Karen Snyder - October 30, 2021 5:32 am

    Cheerios, horses, and all those radio shows (I was 7 or 8 before we had a television set). Thanks for a page full of memories.

  44. Christina - October 30, 2021 6:26 am

    General Mills owes you a white stallion for being such a superb spokesperson!

  45. Ann - October 30, 2021 11:34 am

    There are few, if any, writers who could write about a box of cereal and make it not only interesting but nostalgic!
    ( I loved the Lone Ranger)….

  46. Linda Moon - October 30, 2021 8:41 pm

    P.S. Today, October 30, I first accidentally opened this Post from yesterday (but, are they always “accidents”?) And it prompted my afterthought here:
    a Q-tip sprayed with Saline Mist can clean nostrils with no manual contact. So, now that you know, you’ll have clean hands for your keyboard and us daily readers!


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