by Tim Braun
The sweet succulent morsels of sugary goodness coat the inside of my mouth with their teasing bursts of flavor. Just the very act of removing the colorful box from the dark depths of the odiferous pantry sends the tingling sensation of joy bursting down my spine. This excitement was with me for so long….then was removed. Then was unexpectedly thrust upon me once again. And now? It’s gone. Possibly forever.
My First kiss? No (but that’s another blog all of its own right there…)
First love? No.
It was my favorite cereal growing up and then we parted ways. Through my 20’s and 30’s it was like my best friend didn’t care about me any longer. No calls, no letters, no emails, no late night drinks on the beach, no running through a May shower barefoot holding hands. She was just gone. (Yes, I’m still talking about cereal).
She came back to me about four years ago. I was in the Maritime Provinces in Canada and found a French box of Alpha-Bits (Le Alpha-Beets, I believe). So I came back home and was looking on Amazon and BOOM! There she was. So yes, I ordered 10 boxes of Alpha-Bits. And I was in heaven for about a year. But as soon as she came back to me – she was gone. She was still technically there, but she started to leave a strange taste in my mouth. I searched around and found out that she had had a face lift. Something about health and iron and zinc and stuff. But basically Alpha-Bits now tasted like crap. I was in a state of depression the likes of which had not been seen since the Great Mosquito Disaster of 1982.
Then I read one day that they had changed their ‘recipe’ for the cereal back to the way it was supposed to be due to poor consumer reaction. I went to my local Target (the only place that sells it – believe it or not) and – BOOM! The tender morsels of lettered joy were back and now once again every morning was filled with the same expectations as a summer evening after a thunderstorm. (I sound like Garth Brooks now).
The wonderness continued until about 3 months ago. I took a much-anticipated spoonful and once again, the metallic taste of zinc permeated every pore of the grain of every one of the 26 letters. I fired off a very professional sounding email (seriously– it actually WAS professional) to Post asking why it changed again. Not a peep. I tried again and cross-referenced my previous email – not a peep. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my wife recently:
April: I’m going over to your Dad’s house to make a punch list.
Tim: Why would you make that kind of list?
A: So that we can keep track of what needs to be done.
T: No… I mean are you actually going to punch the items as you finish them?
T: I mean, why not call it a checklist? Wouldn’t that be better? You’re more likely to check an item off rather than punch it out.
T: Or maybe just leave it just as a list. No reason to presume how you’re going to mark off the completed items.
I was getting that same kind of response from Post. I tried another time on January 6 to celebrate my birthday. Again, I wasn’t even met with a Happy Birthday.
So I went with another tactic this week. This is the email I sent them on Monday:
“Alpha-Bits taste like crap now. Why’d you screw them up?”
Of course THAT generated a response from Beverly at Post almost immediately:
Dear Tim Braun,
Thank you for contacting Post Foods.
We regret you were disappointed with Post Alpha-Bits Cereal and thank you for bringing this to our attention.
We have changed the formula to make the cereal healthier for consumers and to also be in compliance with the WIC program. The cereal has been reduced in sugar from 10 to 6 grams per serving. The amount of whole grain was increased, as well as the iron and folic acid fortification. A sweet brown sugar flavor has also been added.
We value your comments and assure you that we will be sharing them with our Quality Assurance Department. We are sorry for any concern this situation has caused you
Consumer Response Representative
I’m not sure what the WIC program is, but I’m thinking that it stands for ‘Wildebeest-in-Cereal’ – because that’s what the non-sugary grainy zinc-y characters taste like now. Until I am notified that Alpha-Bits is back with their original recipe – their folic-acid-fortified butts will stay on the shelf at Target. And NOW I’m on the hunt for Waffle Crisp. According to the Post website they are not for sale within 25 miles of me.
I guess we’ll just have to be heading to Canada again this summer.