Jason Carr: Cereal Killer: What is riboflavin and why should I care?

Cereal. (pixabay, Pixabay 2021)

I was fascinated by cereal as a kid. Such perfection. Such simplicity. Such deliciousness. And a prize inside!

Unless it was healthy. Then no prize. Booooo!

Given the current pandemic fears over germs how is it remotely possible that we were allowed as dirty grimy rug rats to tear open a new box of Count Chocula and stuff our entire arm and hand into the bag to fish out the trinket that was never EVER on top. Always at the bottom so there would be maximum exposure to whatever petri dish of horrors your hand had touched last.


Perhaps this is why our parents did not partake in the sugary delights known as Fruit Loops, Trix, Cap’n Crunch (why the apostrophe and not just Captain?), the monster cereals, Sugar Smacks, Super Sugar Crisp, Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles, and all the rest. They knew there was “residue” from inside your baseball mitt clinging to those tiny chunks of oats.


Of course we kids didn’t care. Not one marshmallow bit. All we cared about was the milk turning color in a good way, the toy prize that broke instantly, and the puzzle game on the back of the box that you could sort of play but was really just coded marketing so that your sucker parents would buy you more cereal.

I don’t know about you but I also cared about riboflavin. What the hell is riboflavin and how is it possible to have 400% of it in one serving? I’m not sure but it seemed fine. Seinfeld has an entire bit about riboflavin, so at least I’m in good company.

I remember going through some healthy cereal phases, too. Product 19 was my jam for a minute. What genius at Kellogg’s thought Product 19 would be a good name for a cereal? It is quite possibly the worst name for a foodstuff ever. Still, I ate it. Along with Total, Special K and Grape-Nuts.

And I guarantee those healthy options didn’t have any petri dish residue inside the box.