Last Week Tonight was off for Memorial Day this week, but that didn’t stop John Oliver from tackling yet another very serious problem plaguing society today. In a web exclusive that went up on YouTube Sunday, the comedian makes a shocking revelation: breakfast cereals have been weirdly stagnant for far too long.
As Oliver points out, the breakfast cereal aisle used to be a constant experiment—the closest our grocery stores get to a test kitchen. You never knew what to expect, from cereals that were all berries, to cereals that were no berries, to cereals that had some amount of berries mixed in alongside non-berry content. The cereal aisle was a place where beloved icons deeply embedded in American culture could share shelf space with a short-lived tie-in to that year’s would-be blockbusters or popular videogames. It’s a world where, as Oliver reveals, commercials could present Tony the Tiger and Shaquille O’Neal as dear old friends with no explanation whatsoever. It was a source of constant joy and surprise, and at some point that’s all tapered off.
Oliver’s not having it. He wraps up this video by pitching a variety of new cereal concepts, each more exciting than the last. Any one of Oliver’s ideas would be a smash hit at the breakfast table; all of them combined would revitalize the entire idea of cereal, elevating it back into the special place of pride it occupied for so long.
As for me, I’ll have to plead ignorance. My main source of cereal knowledge was the unbreakable bond between breakfast cereal commercials and children’s TV, and since I haven’t watched much of the latter in the last, oh, 30 years or so, I just assumed cereal was continuing to make advances and break new ground. Also, cereal kind of peaked with Cracklin’ Oat Bran, a legitimate belief I have that probably made you immediately discount whatever breakfast cereal opinions I might ever have.
So yeah, don’t take my word for it. Watch the whole segment below. If it doesn’t make you wistful for Saturday mornings spent with Fruity Pebbles and The Flintstone Kids, then you are clearly not Paste writer and senior editor Garrett Martin.