Cast your mind back in time, my friends. All the way back to the 1900s. 1991 to be exact.
I was 11 years old and just entering my treacherous but ultimately fantastic middle school years.
In the realm of world events…things…were happening. Who cares?
In the world of film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the highest grossing movie of the year. Completely destroying every film in its path, including the second biggest film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. (Big year for movie title colons.) Silence of the Lambs won all of the Oscars except Best Supporting Actor which went to Jack Palance for City Slickers. Still a head scratcher.
In my world of film, it was the year of such classics as Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and Suburban Commando starring the then-still-heroic Hulk Hogan. I didn’t know who Anthony Hopkins was at the time, but I was pretty sure he didn’t deserve the Oscar, which clearly should have gone to either Scott Bakula or Sinbad for their work in Necessary Roughness.
1991 was a great year in pop music, too. Bryan Adams’s “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” topped the charts, taking up 50 minutes out of every hour of music played at any radio station anywhere. Also dominating the airwaves was Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” Dangerous is still one of my all-time favorite albums. Little did I know that only two years later, Michael’s “Will You Be There” would become the theme song of a little movie called Free Willy which I would see in my eighth grade year with a girl I was totally and madly in love with. She would be stolen away from me from my best friend only weeks later. I was friends with that guy from third grade through college and still don’t think I have forgiven him.
Joining my Permanent Formative Years Playlist of Songs from 1991 That I Would Still Adore in My Adulthood:
- “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd
- “Things That Make You Go Hmmm….” by C+C Music Factory
- “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
- “3 a.m. Eternal” by The KLF
- “Unbelievable” by EMF
- “O.P.P.” by Naughty By Nature
- “You Could be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
- And of course “Too Legit to Quit” by MC Hammer
In television, things were just as awesome. I was already knee deep in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In Living Color, and The Simpsons (then starting its 23rd season), so imagine my excitement when 1991 saw the debut of Dinosaurs, Herman’s Head, Home Improvement, Step By Step, and Blossom (ahem, because of my sister). It’s a wonder I ever left my room.
Saturday morning-wise, I wasn’t really concerned with anything that wasn’t Saved by the Bell or the WWF. There were great cartoons happening then, but most of my cartoon watching had migrated to after school hours.
But airing on those Saturday mornings, was a short-lived cartoon series called Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, an animated spin-off of the first Bill and Ted movie. The show only ran for 21 episodes over two seasons. Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and George Carlin all reprised their roles for the first season of the show. All three are great. The animation is pretty weak, but I really like the first season (the second season is abysmal). Bill and Ted ramble through time completely ignoring the possibility of the Butterfly Effect to solve inconsequential dilemmas like getting an A on a book report. Like the movie, the characters’ upbeat innocence and most excellent verbiage sell the show. Check it out. It’ll make you happy.
The show’s big food tie-in was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cereal. It’s “A Most Awesome Breakfast Adventure.” It was made by Ralston Purina, as were most weak pop culture tie-in cereals of the time. Yes, Ralston Purina as in Purina dog food. Let’s not dwell on that too long.
The cereal itself is composed of cinnamon oat squares and marshmallow music notes. The squares don’t really look that unlike dry dog food. Sorry, I didn’t want to dwell. This might be the most boring looking cereal ever. Especially one that has a connection to such a colorful and energetic franchise. At least make the oats into rectangles! Then you could say they are shaped like phone booths! Come on! I get the marshmallow notes what with the Wyld Stallyns and all. But even that is lip-service. Couldn’t we get some little guitars? Or some slushie drink cups with straws? Or some more phone booths? This is minimal effort tie-in productery at its worst.
The nosegrope is a perfect hybrid of cardboard and plastic. It’s not an overpowering stench, but it is most noticeable and a bad sign of things to come.
The cinnamon on the cinnamon oat squares is still holding on for dear life, but the majority of its flavor has long ago been leeched out and replaced by the most heinous plastic taste of the interior bag. And that plastic taste doesn’t leave the palate easily. It digs in. The texture of the oat squares was fine. Still crunchy. You might think they were a few days stale, but definitely not 21 years so.
The marshmallows haven’t fared much better. They now have a weird, sharp metallic tang. And they manage to be chalky, crumbly, and chewy at the same time. You bite. They crumble to dust. The dust reforms into a chewy mass. You swallow. You regret.
I’ve never had this cereal before, but I’m betting that even in 1991 it wasn’t very good. So the bar was already pretty low.
The cereal is not inedible. If this was the post-apocalypse, you could get by on it. But it hasn’t held up well.
It would seem that the plastic bag is always the undoing of these old cereals. Which is a shame! If someone could figure out some low cost, long-lasting plastic bags that don’t decay into our favorite cereals, just think of all the old stuff we could be enjoying! When we invent that, that’s the first thing I’m doing with my time-traveling phone booth (when we invent that)! For those of us desperately clinging to our childhoods, it would be a life changing tweak of the past.
Until then I’m just going to enjoy the movies and the cartoon and my bonus time-traveling phone booth-shaped cassette holder. Now if I could only find my “Do the Bartman” cassingle.
Party on, dudes! And be excellent to each other!