My Week With Muppet Breakfast, Day 3: Cinnamon Toast Crunch and The Muppets Take Manhattan

Published: November 7, 2002
Categories: Feature

Day One Day Two

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3/4 cup (30g) and 1 movie (94 min’s)
Calories: 130
Calories from Fat: 30
Scriptwriters: 3

Ingredients: Whole Wheat, Sugar, Optimism, Fashioned Rice Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Friendly Bland Girl, Fructose, Romance, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, James Coco, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Cinnamon, Splashy Wedding Sequence, Soy Lecithin, Dabney Coleman, Caramel and Annatto Extract Color, Something Missing.

Here’s the theory right up front: Cinnamon Toast Crunch is just like The Muppets Take Manhattan.

myweekbreakfast15Both of them are basically the downmarket substitutes for something really great — Cinnamon Toast Crunch is pretending to be cinnamon toast, and The Muppets Take Manhattan is pretending to be The Muppet Movie. Neither of them is really very good if you compare them to the original thing they’re based on. Nobody would choose to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch if offered actual fresh cinnamon toast, just like nobody would willingly watch The Muppets Take Manhattan if The Muppet Movie was available. Still, judged completely on their own merits, both of them are perfectly adequate for an occasional snack, as long as you don’t indulge in them too often.

There, that’s out of the way, and now I have the rest of the morning to myself. Which is a good thing, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around this brave new world of disposable movies.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it this week, but I grew up in the 1970’s, and back in my day, if you wanted to watch a Muppet movie, well, there weren’t much a body could do but sit around and wait for it. Sure, we had The Muppet Movie on a Cheerios box back in 19 and 79, but it wasn’t like you got the whole movie. Instead, we got twelve photos from the movie printed on the box, and you could cut them off the box with your mom’s kitchen scissors and call them trading cards.

Movies were mysterious and shy back then. They played The Muppet Movie in theaters for a few months, and then they took it away and locked it in a vault so nobody could get at it. Then they’d take it out every once in a while and play it on some local station at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon when nobody was looking. If you wanted to see it again, well, that was your tough bananas. The best you could do is squint and flip through the pages of The Muppet Movie Book really fast. Movies were not meant for mortal eyes to see.

Now, of course, content delivery technology is getting so cheap that they’re giving movies away with a box of breakfast cereal. It’s not even a mail-in type deal, they’re actually just giving you a whole movie right there on the box. I bet there are families across America right this very minute looking at the Muppets Take Manhattan DVD and saying, this again? All I wanted was some Cheerios. And then they throw the DVD in the trash, or use it a coaster.

Younger people who are reading this may not grasp exactly how weird that is for those of us who didn’t grow up with VCR’s, so I’ll tell you a little story. I was in elementary school back when The Muppet Show was first on the air, and I had a secret fantasy that I only shared with my very best friend. My fantasy was that someday they would invent a TV that had a button for every single show, and whenever you wanted to watch a particular show — which for me, obviously, was always going to be The Muppet Show — then you could press that button, and it would send a signal to the TV station, and they would send The Muppet Show to your TV so you could watch it. I used to fantasize about that all the time. How great it would be not to have to wait for Monday night to watch The Muppet Show! But when I told my friend about my dream, he said that was a ridiculous idea — there are too many shows, the whole set would be full of a thousand buttons. How would you ever find the button you wanted?

And this is how primitive my concept of all this was — that argument completely stymied me. I couldn’t get around it. From then on, any time I thought about my dream TV set, I couldn’t figure out how they could ever invent a TV with that many buttons on it. I literally could not conceive of a system where I wasn’t completely dependent on the invisible, unreachable TV-station employees to “send” me the show I wanted to watch. The idea that I could actually own a copy of the show myself, that I could hold it in my hand and watch it whenever I wanted — that thought was literally beyond me.

And even when VCR’s were invented and I finally got one of my own, pre-recorded videos were so expensive that I still had to wait for a TV station to play a Muppet movie before I could tape it and own it myself. And they never put out episodes of TV shows for sale, so I just had to wait for them to show The Muppet Show on cable.

So the idea that they are now literally giving away whole entire Muppet movies for free just feels so incredibly casual and urbane. I feel like the country mouse going to the big city and finding out that you can get cheese delivered in the middle of the night.

This rare and magical thing, it isn’t rare anymore. You can have it for nothing, you can toss it in the trash and get a new one tomorrow. This thing that used to be treasure, now it’s just an everyday part of life.

Now, at this point, you might be expecting me to say that this diminishes the power of the movies somehow, that by making them so common, we cheapen the magic that really made them special.

But actually, I think it’s great. Muppet movies should be common. I should have to fight them off with a stick. They should give away Muppet DVD’s with six-packs of soda. Muppet DVD’s should come out of ATM machines when I make a withdrawal. People should be handing me Muppet DVD’s when I walk down the street; I should find them on my car windshield and tucked inside the Sunday paper. Every day that passes by when I don’t get handed a Muppet DVD is a wasted opportunity in my book.

1979 was Kansas, basically. It was black and white and dull all over, and all I could do was sit by the pigsty and dream of a better world. If you had told me back then that I could travel to a future where Muppet movies came free with breakfast cereal — but warned me that if I went there, I’d never see my Auntie Em and my Uncle Henry ever again — why, I’d be catching the first tornado to leave town, and I’d never look back. Auntie Em wouldn’t even get a postcard.

This is better than Kansas, way better, and I don’t know as you’ve noticed, but this whole broadband content delivery thing is getting faster and cheaper every day. The future looks loud and wild and full of Muppets, and if this is breakfast, then, Toto, I can’t wait to see what’s for lunch.

Click here for Day One: Honey Nut Cheerios and Bear in the Big Blue House! Click here for Day Two: Lucky Charms and Buddy!

by Danny Horn

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