Honey Nut Insanity
12.vii.04

I've been getting cross a lot recently; it's all part of growing up into a big, strong crotchety old git. It's also rather comforting. Never does one feel so absolutely sure of oneself than when denouncing others in a vitriolic, unsubstantiated tirade of thoughtless kneejerk reaction. Today the victim is Nestle Cheerios. As if their simply being made by Nestle was not sufficient reason to become incensed, I have managed to take issue with the nutrition propaganda on the back. You know the bit, it's put there so you've got something to read while you shovel the refried cardboard (or whatever it is) into your system, shocking your metabolism into remission just in time to exhaust you completely before your inevitable sprint for the bus. Anyway, due to its early-morning audience, one expects such parts of the box to be (a) low-brow and simple and (b) unmemorable, thereby ensuring a stress-free, untaxing experience that can be slipped through in neutral morning after morning without fear of terminal boredom or mental exhaustion. I am therefore tempted to go easy on this little treat. But I won't.

The basic premise is thus: Most people find it difficult to concentrate over a period of time - yeah, right; especially at this time in the morning, bozo. Keep it short. Especially those with exams and tests. No wonder we all under-perform then. What a load of crap! Everyone knows that it only feels like you're underperforming at exam time because it's the only time of the year one is required to perform at all. Well now, brown cow? Research carried out by CDR and Reading Scientific Services confirms that eating Cheerios and Shreddies can actually help your concentration.

There's some other crap about slow-release carbohydrate energy but that's the bit that you're supposed to forget so you can read it again tomorrow and be amazed a second, third, fiftieth time. Anyway, then there is the following graph. Brace yourself, it's a real corker.



I don't just have issues with this graph, I have bin-liners full of complaint letters. First of all, why does everything to do with education have to be written in chalk? Even when I was at school, fifty-odd years ago, they all had whiteboards! Haven't the advertisers heard of Stanley Milgram? Ingrained stereotypes of authority can kill people! And who is this pupil, anyway? She looks old enough to be doing a Masters.. she's certainly not dressed either in uniform or snappy teenage fashion; that shapeless BROWN sweater belongs on the back rail at the British Heart Foundation shop. And why, if she's got a shoulder bag, are her files in her other hand?? What's she going to high-five hippies in the canteen with? Her teeth?

But I digress; however inappropriate a twenty year-old may look on a kiddies' cereal box it's nothing compared to the ludicrous graph in front of which she is positioned. First of all, every condition shows a decline in concentration overall - with 8am as the benchmark! I can't concentrate on walking at 8am! Downhill from that is comatose!! And what is this poisonous rubbish that causes such appalling degradation of intellectual activity? First up, a glucose drink! The breakfast of champions! Who hasn't left the house of a morning, pausing only to swallow down a couple of cans of Tango or Lucozade? I'm reminded of Bill Bryson's "Rated FIRST against the Ford El Crappo for safety!" diatribe on advertising - if a glucose drink is the only competition then Cheerios can't be doing too well against anything more sensible. But wait! Sugary energy drinks aren't the only competition! The other condition is.. no breakfast! Which actually beats Cheerios in the first half hour! Clearly, the subjects were still mulling over the pseudo-scientific crap they'd just read on the Cheerios box and couldn't concentrate on.. whatever it was they were given. In the end, of course Cheerios come out on top but it hardly tells you anything you didn't know before - as the only solid food in the experiment you might equally read the result as,

Cheerios - better for you than starvation

which is hardly the best ad slogan I've ever read. Frankly, this kind of arse really gets my goat, not least because you could quite easily chalk up another graph along the same lines, only this time with pints of Red Bull and Vodka pitted against starvation and cigarettes. I have it on good authority that nicotine enhances short-term synaptic formation ('learning' to you and me) and that taurine is.. well.. probably also good for you. In the short term.



Frankly, I prefer my graph. At least it's funny.

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