My first memory of crushing failure occurred when I was a not yet literate child. The culprit, a box of corn flakes.
As you can see from this photograph I took at the grocer a couple of days ago, they’re still at it.
The lying liars!
Time after time I sifted through every corn flake in the box for those strawberries. First, trawling through the dark box with my little hands, then pouring it all out a mixing bowl to analyze the contents in broad daylight.
I kept thinking someone in the house was quicker than I and took all of them… the greedy little bastards. Not that I had any intention of leaving any strawberries in there, either.
It was like panning for gold and highly frustrating. Failure after failure.
I tried this at my grandparents, too. Opened their box and fished through with no more luck than at my own house. My grandmother kept telling me corn flakes didn’t come with prizes like Sugar Smacks and Apple Jacks. I didn’t tell her what I was looking for because I didn’t want her to know I was interested. That might keep her from raiding all the berries next time. I never told anyone what I was looking for and I’m a bit surprised right now that none of the adults could figure out why I kept digging relentlessly through corn flakes (which I refused to eat, BTW, even little kids reject things that have been “picked over”).
This box of cereal that I saw a couple of days ago reminded me of chasing strawberries that didn’t exist.
See? “With Real Strawberries.”
I’ll bet someone just as burned as I about the phantom strawberries grew up and went to work for Post just to put some real strawberries in a box of cereal.
That person is my hero today.
The image of that stupid rooster on the old box of corn flakes continues to haunt me to this very day.