People with Clipboards and Cereal Box Claims


I’ve noticed something odd about the writing on cereal boxes. I think it helps explain why Republicans object to big government, and Democrats seem to embrace it. For example, here’s what’s on the Frosted Mini Wheats Original box, in big print: “1 bowl and you’re good till lunch.” Sounds good? Here’s what’s just below in small print.

“After eating a bowl with 2% milk at least half of adults had a lower desire to eat than before breakfast for 3 ½ hours.”

After that big slogan appeared on the Frosted Mini Wheats box for the first time, a man with a clipboard walked into the corporate office of Kellogg’s, which makes Frosted Mini Wheats.

“Can you prove what you wrote on the Frosted Mini Wheats?”

“Well, it’s just common sense.”

“You need to have a study done. And the results need to be right under the claim on the box.”

“Yes, sir. Whatever you say.”

“We’re not asking you to recall the product that is already out there without this proof.”

“Thank you, sir. That’s very kind of you sir.”

Kellogg’s headquarters is in Battle Creek, Mich. As far as the eye can see, grain is waving in the fields. These good folks are Midwesterners—God-fearing people, people anxious to please. They order the study.

Here’s another example. It’s on the Cheerios 100% Whole Grain Oats box. The big print says: “These little Os are circular dynamos packed with soluble fiber that is linked with happy, healthy hearts.”

Here’s the small print.

“(Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole wheat oat food, like Cheerios cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios provides 1 gram per serving).”

This is from General Mills in Minneapolis.

A big problem must have resulted when the men with the clipboards also inquired about the Wheaties.

“You can’t say ‘breakfast of champions.’ Lots of champions don’t have Wheaties for breakfast.”

“But lots of people do.”


“We’ve been saying ‘breakfast of champions’ for 100 years. It’s grandfathered in.”

The clipboards hold a closed door meeting. On the other side of the door, the cereal executives hear part of the conversation.

“I think we’ve covered this ground before with Grape Nuts,” somebody says.

“There’s no grapes in Grape-Nuts.”

“There’s no nuts either.”

“How was that decided?”

“The upshot was they can keep saying it. I think ‘breakfast of champions’ falls in with that decision.  And there are at least some champions, which is more than what can be said for Grape-Nuts.”

The clipboards come out.

“We’re going to get back to you,” they say to the executives. “We’ll bring this to our higher-ups.”

“Think it will be okay?”

“It’s entirely possible.”

And then, a month later, they return to say ‘breakfast of champions’ is a go. And can they get LeBron James to autograph a box?

The clipboards are not just harassing cereal executives.

For example, the people who make Red Bull have been forced to confirm on its website that the taurine in Red Bull is not made from bull’s testicles. And I’ve heard that in Canada, a lawsuit resulted in the Red Bull company printing “drinking Red Bull does not enable you to fly” because the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” was on the cans. And Red Bull was ordered to pay you $10 if you drank such a can.

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