Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Greatest Breakfast Cereal in the Known Universe Is Back

My wife came home from the store with something special. I could tell by the way she grinned as she held something behind her back.

Admittedly, she could have been holding a machete, but I prefer to be an optimist in these situations.

“Close your eyes,” she said. “I have a surprise for you.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I thought, pinching my eyes tight just in case I was wrong about the machete. A present for me? Yes, I’ve been a good boy.

It’s not often parents get presents. Five uninterrupted minutes on the toilet is usually gift enough. Many presentless holidays have gone by just fine because of that anniversary I got to spend on the can.

The surprise had to be something I wanted, or the secrecy would have just been mean.

Is it beer? Is it beer? Is it beer? I wondered. No, it’s not my birthday. The “Girls Gone Wild: Suburban Boise Idaho Community College” video? No, it wasn’t Christmas, either.

“Open your eyes,” she said.

You know the feeling when your team wins the championship? Your candidate gets elected? Someone doesn’t laugh when you ask them on a date? Yeah, it was kind of like that.

Oh, Quaker Oats, god of breakfast, lord of sweet yellow milk, heaper of the blessed sugar. Thou hast been kind.

“Do you like it?” she asked, holding a big blue box of Quisp, the breakfast cereal that made an elementary school me eager to pop out of bed just for the sugar rush.

Oh, the memories. Quisp watched Godzilla movies with me after school. Quisp got me going before a Little League game. It even, I believe, helped ward off vampires.

Oh, yeah. I liked.

Quisp, a little pink space alien drawn by Rocky and Bullwinkle animators Jay Ward and Bill Scott, brought his first shipment of space cereal – shaped like flying saucers – from Planet Q in 1965. In 1972, Quisp and his archenemy Quake (who made earthquake-powered cereal … whatever) entered the democratic process and America elected Quisp the best cereal ever.

Then something happened. Much like Gerald Ford, Quisp disappeared from the public eye in the late 1970s.

“Where did you find it?” I asked, taking the box from her hands as gently as a surgeon transplanting a liver.

Does she have a time machine? I wondered. And if she does, why didn’t she kill Hitler?

“Dollar General,” she said. “For a dollar.”

A dollar? A dollar for the cereal that could even make Saturday mornings with Scrappy Doo spectacular? That’s smart shopping.

I opened the box, poured golden flying saucers into a bowl, added milk, and transported back to 1972.

Quisp, I don’t care where you’ve been – even if it was a Mexican prison, anywhere in France or rehab – I’m happy you’re back. And that bowl of cereal? Oh, yeah. It was sweet.

Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to the Show-Me State’s Most Spirited Spots,” is available from, or Visit Jason’s Web site,, for his other books.