Grape Nuts
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My favourite moments when discussing food with Cambodians come when I speak passionately about some particular foreign food and they look at me like I’ve just described to them the correct manner by which to skin and eat a human baby. For some reason, I often receive this blank stare of boundless horror when I try to describe muesli as a vaguely pleasurable breakfast experience. Possibly because at some unspecified time, Cambodians encountered Grape-Nuts.

Over the weekend, a friend was in town for a reciprocal visit from Laos and we did a run to Lucky Supermarket for a selection of processed Western goods unavailable in the Land of A Million Elephants. While I was perusing the specials bin, I spied a packet of Grape-Nuts. They sounded vaguely like an insult that you would throw around the playground as a child, so we deduced that they must be a good thing. They were also half the price of any other imported breakfast cereal available in Cambodge.

Kraft says: “One of the first ready-to-eat cereal products ever made available to the public, Grape-Nuts was first introduced in 1897. Made of wheat and malted barley, Grape-Nuts was so named because its inventor, Charles William Post, said that grape sugar was formed during the baking process and described the cereal as having a nutty flavor.”

I say: After completing the baking process, I would have bestowed the name Bran-Gravel on the product. The only positive that comes from this product is that it effectively sharpens your teeth as you eat it, or at least, polishes the pieces of teeth that have snapped off as you fruitlessly gnaw away.

My friend from Lao PDR says: “I concur, Grape Nuts suck ass”

Grape-Nuts are currently on sale at Lucky for US$1.90. Unleash the cereal wrath upon Phnom Penh at your peril.

9 thoughts on “Grape-Nuts”

  1. I probably should have mentioned that compared to most American breakfast cereals, Grape-Nuts would rate fairly well because their largest component is cereal rather than marshmallows or corn syrup. I’m not sure whether you’re crazy, Robyn, or just a glutton for punishment.

  2. Phil, this entry was absolutely hilarious (laugh-out-loud in the office and make excuses funny)…. and right on the mark to boot. Grape-Nuts is a horrible mockery of breakfast cereal, and I cannot possibly understand why any normally sane, food-oriented person (sorry, Robyn) would eat the stuff.

    And in re: your comment above, I actually find the stuff to be too sweet. Then again, I picked up the Shredded Wheat from the Lucky special discounts section, so I’m not sure what that says about me (except that I like Shredded Wheat with my muesli).

  3. Grape-nuts…neither a grape, nor a nut. Reminds me of the titmouse, which is actually a bird. You can’t trust either! Great post!

  4. Michael, no offense intended. Though I am sane and food-oriented.
    Actually Grape Nuts are beside the point because the only American breakfast cereal truly worth the milk it’s eaten with is Cheerios. Cheerios rule.

    On the topic, have you found, as I have, that Asians consider a breakfast of grains and cold milk to be extremely bizarre?

  5. Robyn, BBC News had an article marginally about the lack of acceptance of cereal in Asia last month. Apparently Kellogg’s is on an acquisition spree.

    “People [in Asia] tend to reject cold breakfast or milk,” said Hans Shin, president of Kellogg’s Asia.

    Subsequently the firm is considering developing cereal bars and hot cereals as well as whole-grain cereal, to respond to demands for healthier food from an ageing population.

    Kellogg’s dominates around 40% of the world cereal market and almost half of the market in Asia, but Asia still represents a mere 2% of its total sales.

    There’s a couple of Chinese brands of porridge floating around, which seems to be marketed (at least from the packaging) as a hot breakfast drink. I’ve seen a few cans of “Instant Congee” but it looks fairly scary compared to the real thing. I’m sure that the last one I came across was “Preserved Muscle” flavour.

    Apart from a few cold noodle dishes, I can’t think of a cold Asian breakfast (at least where “lukewarm” doesn’t count), but I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious.

  6. Phil, this is where companies like Kellog’s really need the advice of seasoned Asia food hands like you and I – at $10,000 a pop, of course. Seriously, Asians of Chinese descent generally prefer not to to take *anything* cold, breakfast cereal to water, because it’s not good for the body (when you’ve got a fever, drink a mug of boiling water!). I love SE Asian countries because the locals appreciate the value of a COLD beer (not always the case in China). But cold breakfasts? I can’t think of a one. Even cold noodles aren’t really ice cold, except in Japan.

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