Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Investigative Investigation of Things

Cereal, Part One:
Alpha Bits, Less Than They Appear?

I remember when there were two kinds of Alpha Bits: regular and marshmallow. The marshmallow was amazing, but it is no longer available. My local Acme is the only store I've noticed the regular one in, so when it went on sale one week, naturally I couldn't resist.

Then one night, when it was finally time to open the new box (the Apple Jacks were finished), TG did so, and poured a bowl, exclaiming "What the hell is this?" The "this" in question:

Figure 1: amorphous blob.

A mutant blob of hardened frosting and bits, which was probably stuck in the corner of the coating machine tray for days before it got knocked loose into our box (I've seen "Unwrapped", I know how these machines work!). I'll admit it...I licked it to verify it was hardened frosted goodness. And yes, it was delicious. I almost threw it out, then realized it would be a great blog story. You're welcome, Internet.

Little did I know that it would also lead to other observations as we ate:
TG: "I don't remember them being so stale-tasting."
Me: "I do."
TG: "Are you writing down things about Alpha Bits?"
Me: "Yup."

Figure 2. Bowl as shown on box.
I do not remember the individual bits being so imperfect, but maybe I am putting a shiny glow on my memory and it was always like this. My bowl does not look as good as the one on the box either (Figure 2), which leads me to wonder how many boxes they sorted through to get a bowl that nice. In reality, the bits are only vaguely alphabet-shaped; Q, O, and D all look similar, and the number of broken bits leads me to think there were a lot of L's. I decided to further investigate the situation by counting the number of each letter in an average bowl of cereal. It promised to be a time-consuming process; good thing I am unemployed.

Figure 3. One bowl laid out.
The results: there seems to be an inordinate number of A's, B's, and Ds, as well as P's Q's and R's (Figure 3). You will also notice in the photo there are many letters of the alphabet completely missing. Indeed, I could not even spell "i do things" with one bowl of cereal. This was disconcerting, because any number of children learning to read could be learning with no E's and a bunch of misshapen D's. And about those D's: wouldn't they all be extruded from the same machine? Why are the variations in size so extreme? Upon closer inspection of the bowl pictured, I see there is an S, but actually, no other letters that I did not find in my bowl (what I labled V could be U, and N could be Z). So maybe there IS some truth behind the bits, and they are just working with an alphabet that is quite different than the one I learned at Cedar Grove Elementary.
FACT: Alpha Bits do not contain the whole alphabet.

Unfortunately, the Internet was no help in understanding the process of creating Alpha Bits. This investigation led to many more questions than answers, and I feel unfulfilled. I'm sorry I brought it up.

1 comment:

Karen M. said...

I am cracking up ALEX!!!!!!