The Nostalgia of Malt O Meal

This morning I did some grocery shopping to get some pies. While I was walking through the grocery store, I happened to walk down the aisle with the “hot cereal” as we called it when I was a kid. “Cold cereal” cereal was boxed cereal. My mother always wanted to ensure we were eating healthy and so limited what sort of snacks and sugary foods my sisters and I ate. And let’s be honest, if she brought home a box of Frosted Flakes or Cap’n Crunch, that box was not likely to last more than one Saturday morning, with three kids and Saturday morning cartoons. Like throwing wads of cash in the fireplace.

So, as kids, while we sometimes had such fuddy duddy “cold cereals” like Wheaties, Raisin Bran, plain Cheerios (the only kind there was when I was a kid), and plain Rice Krispies, more often than not, especially in the winter months, we would be served oatmeal (cooked on the stove) or Malt O Meal (or, more likely, Cream of Wheat). Some of the first things we learned to cook as kids was oatmeal and Malt O Meal.

On holidays, like, Valentine’s Day, Mom would get some colored sugar crystals (red for Valentine’s Day, green and red for Christmas) and dress up the Malt O Meal (or Cream of Wheat) with shapes of hearts or bells and so on.

Those are some of the most wonderful memories I have. So, naturally, when I had kids of my own, I carried on the tradition.

In the case of my girls, however, while we went back and forth with Cream of Wheat and Malt O Meal, the girls really liked the maple and brown sugar flavored Malt O Meal. Wherever I have lived that was always hard to find. So if we ever saw it while grocery shopping, we bought it.

My memories are filled with my girls, when they were little, in their jammies and foam hair curlers (the kind I put in after the bath and they left in while they slept, so they could have curls when they woke up), sitting at either our regular kitchen table, or at their little kiddie table, eating their maple and brown sugar flavored Malt O Meal. If it was a Saturday morning in winter, it was often the case that I set up their kiddie table so they could watch their cartoon videos–Barbie, Tinker Bell, or one of the Disney movies–and eat their hot cereal. I’m not sure I ever decorated their hot cereal with colored sugar crystals like my mom did for me and my sisters, but we had our own way of carrying on the tradition.

Today, when I saw the packages of Malt O Meal, I immediately went to both these sets of memories. I was filled with the warm joy of my mother’s care for me and my sisters. And I remembered the joy I felt in making breakfast for my girls.

So, yes. I’m going to have hot cereal the next time I have breakfast. And I’m going to let the warm and happy memories fill my heart and mind.

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