Day Two Day Three


If you spend a lot of time in the breakfast cereal aisle, like I do, then you’ve probably noticed the new General Mills/Columbia Tristar promotion that sticks a free DVD onto cereal boxes. Three of those free DVD’s are Henson-related — a disc with two Bear in the Big Blue House episodes, another with The Muppets Take Manhattan, and a third with the Creature Shop flop Buddy. Because I am the original fearless Muppet journalist, I’m going to spend three mornings this week watching these DVD’s over breakfast, as I munch down as much of the cereal as I can stomach. (I’m not going to bother with the fourth DVD, because even I cringe at the thought of watching two episodes of Jackie Chan Adventures while eating Golden Grahams. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting paid for this.)

In other words, I’ve got three balanced breakfasts to figure out the answer to this question: If it’s so cheap and easy now to produce Muppets Take Manhattan DVD’s that they can just give them away with a four-dollar box of breakfast cereal, then how come the DVD alone has a retail price of $19.95? Food for thought.

Monday, November 4: Honey Nut Cheerios and Bear in the Big Blue House

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup (30g) and 2 episodes (48 min’s)
Calories: 120
Calories from Fat: 15
Cheerful Songs: 7

Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Oat Bran, Modified Corn Starch, Otters, Gentle Good Humor, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Mouse Describing His Dreams, Salt, Ground Almonds, Calcium Carbonate, Tooth-Brushing, Trisodium Phosphate, FBI Warning, Vitamin E. May contain trace elements of Shadow.

Well, to start with, I’ve got mail, apparently. I pour myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and put the disc into my DVD player, and immediately I’ve got an AOL commercial to watch. There’s a big eyeball, and a guitar shrieks — and suddenly, there’s a bunch of twelve year olds with good skin dancing around and screaming at me about how great AOL is. “Click, click, talk it up!” they say. “Grab some movies and tunes!” A well-scrubbed white girl smirks and snaps her teeth at me. I think there’s a demographics issue going on here — isn’t this a Bear in the Big Blue House disc? Am I in the right room? Cause I’m not sure that the three year olds watching Bear and the precocious middle schoolers click-clicking and talking it up are going to get along very well.

Plus, by the way, my Honey Nut Cheerios box has a seal of approval from the American Heart Association, which reminds me that “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Apparently, at some point, somebody did a research study that showed that eating obscene amounts of oat bran helped to lower people’s cholesterol, and the folks at General Mills can’t stop reminding us about it. There’s little hearts all over the box — even though, presumably, the three year old Bear fans aren’t super concerned with their cholesterol levels yet. So far, this breakfast is all over the map demographically, and I haven’t even started eating yet.

I take a sip of coffee and a healthy spoonful of Honey Nut Cheerios as Bear in the Big Blue House starts. It’s an episode called “Morning Glory,” which is all about waking up in the morning and eating breakfast. It’s nice that I get to have kind of a breakfast theme going here; it helps me to relate. All of Bear’s friends had a sleepover last night in the living room, so he goes in to wake them all up.

Honey Nut Cheerios, by the way, tastes neither like honey or nuts. I’m not sure what they taste like, exactly. I guess like Cheerios covered with a generous helping of sugar. I check the box. There’s 11 grams of sugar in a 30-gram bowl, and I personally can taste every gram right now. I try to wash it down with coffee. Pre-school television and black coffee, the breakfast of champions. Plus I can feel my cholesterol getting lower by the minute, which is comforting.

Meanwhile, back in the living room, Tutter is laughing in his sleep. Bear wakes up Tutter, who starts laughing and screaming about the dream he was having: Bear was really small, and Tutter was really big! Oh, that’s rich! Bwa ha ha! says Tutter. Apparently Tutter is incredibly over caffeinated the first thing in the morning. I’m envious, and I swig some more coffee.

Then Pip and Pop wake up:

Pop: “Ooh, uh… Bear… I feel funny!”

Pip: “Me too!”

Bear: “Really? What do you feel like?”

Pop: “Uh oh! I’ve gotta PEE!”

I spit coffee all over my cereal.

Pip: “Me too!”

Bear: “Really?”

Pop: “Yeah!”

Pip: “We’ll be right back, Bear!”

Bear: “Okay…”

Pop: “We’ve got to use the POTTY!”

Bear: “Good idea, guys! Breakfast will be waiting for ya!”

Now, luckily, I’m trying to clean up a little with a paper towel and I don’t have a mouth full of cereal when I hear that last line, because frankly that’s kind of a disturbing way to put it. If you get what I mean.

Bear adds: “You know, sometimes when you wake up, you have to go to the bathroom! Everybody does!”

All this toilet fanfare strikes me funny, cause I usually have to go to the bathroom about every ten minutes, and nobody ever gets this excited about it.

pottytimewithbearAll the rest of the animals go to the kitchen for breakfast — and by the way, Honey Nut Cheerios with a light frosting of spit-out coffee isn’t as bad as you might think — but Ojo’s still asleep on the couch.

Bear walks over to Ojo and calls to her gently.

Bear: “Good morning, Ojo…”

Ojo: “Good MORNING? What’s so good about a morning when everybody’s talking so LOUD!”

Bear: “Ohh… I think Ojo’s having trouble waking up!”

Now, if you ask me, I think Ojo’s waking up with a hangover, but who am I to judge. Bear invites her into the kitchen for a little hair of the bear that bit her.

As we transition to the kitchen, Bear embellishes a little on this whole “morning” concept: “The morning starts when the sun rises, and when you wake up, rested after a good night’s sleep. And you stretch… and go to the bathroom!”

Okay, could we stop hitting this bathroom note quite so hard? I’m trying to get these Honey Nut Cheerios down. I’ve finished my first bowl, so I pour a second one.

On screen, we’ve got some film clips of kids talking about what they eat in the morning. Eggs! Cereal! Juice! And then there’s this one girl who appears on screen just long enough to look us in the eyes and shout: PANTYCAKES! I swear to you, that’s what she says. She doesn’t mumble at all, it’s the most clearly enunciated PANTYCAKES I’ve ever heard. This breakfast is just getting better and better.

Everybody’s eating breakfast now, and Bear explains to us that “Eating breakfast gives you ENERGY,” which is interesting, because at the moment, all it’s giving me is a weird, sticky aftertaste that seems completely impervious to coffee. They’ve all got spoons, but I notice that Pip and Pop are just holding the spoons and eating their cereal by sticking their faces into their bowls. I decide to try this technique in solidarity with my otter brethren. It isn’t a good move. The second bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios is always the hardest, and it doesn’t get any easier if you’re eating it in panoramic sensurround.

They finish breakfast, and now it’s tooth brushing time, which means they all troop upstairs and sing the Brusha Brusha Toothbrush song. Then they’re all planning on going out to play, but one of the otters can’t find his inner tube — so now we’ve got to Clean Up the House, singing the Clean Up the House song. Gosh, mornings are so eventful at the Big Blue House that it’s a wonder they ever have time to get on with the day. I’m still stuck digging through this second bowl of cereal. I don’t care how low my cholesterol is getting, a bowl and a half of Honey Nut Cheerios may be about my limit. It’s just sitting in my stomach now, like a big sticky rock. From here on out, my cholesterol is going to have to take care of itself.

Bear reads a bit, talks to Shadow, and then before you know it, it’s night time, and he goes upstairs into the attic to talk to the moon. Bear boasts that he felt good all day — because he had such a great morning! Well, Bear may have lived a whole day in the last twenty-four minutes, but I’m still finishing breakfast. Maybe watching a Bear episode first thing in the morning isn’t a great idea; they always end at night, which makes me feel like I’ve wasted the whole day eating Honey Nut Cheerios.

There’s a second episode right after this one — but I don’t think I can struggle through another bowl and a half of Honey Nut Cheerios for it. General Mills, you were a worthy opponent. I concede.

But as I reach for the cereal box to put it away, this ad catches my eye: “If you like Honey Nut Cheerios, you’ll love Apple Cinnamon Cheerios!”

Ooooggg, what a thought. I feel funny; I have to go use the potty. We’ll meet back here in a couple days for another complete breakfast.

Click here for Day Two: Lucky Charms and Buddy! And click here for Day Three: Cinnamon Toast Crunch and The Muppets Take Manhattan!

by Danny Horn

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