04 October, 2008

Kellogg's Jump Starts Breakfast

Kids sure do love sugar, don't they? If you gave them Snickers bars and root beer for breakfast every day, you would be T3H COOLEST PARENT EVAR and every one of your kid's friends would cry themselves to sleep at night because you're not their parent, too. The trouble is, the local PTO would be picketing your house and some busybody neighbor would be following you around with a camera and telephoto lens gathering "evidence" against you for your state's Child Protective Services agency.

Lucky for you that Kellogg's came up with these amazing breakfast-in-a-box Jump-Starts things! Jump-Starts are packed with all the sweetness your little sugarfiend could ask for; Kellogg's has given you a socially acceptable way to feed your kids candy for breakfast by carefully disguising it as actual food.

I found a bunch of these at Big Lots! the other day for a dollar a piece (a little better than half off their supermarket price) so my daughter and I decided to try them. Inside, we found a one-ounce container of "reduced sugar" Frosted Flakes, a single Frosted Blueberry Pop-Tart, and a 4.23-ounce juicebox containing apple juice (clearly, this is not a breakfast kit for people following a low-carb diet.) There was also a napkin and spoon. We had to provide our own milk for the cereal - I guess Kellogg's can't be bothered to pack a small no-refrigeration-needed TetraPak of milk in the kit.

Everything in the package was fresh and, I have to admit, delicious. I loved Frosted Flakes when I was a kid and I found nothing wrong with this "reduced sugar" version (couldn't even tell the difference as a matter of fact.) Same goes for the Pop Tarts, even though the Mylar packaging still has that stupid "good source of vitamins and minerals" tag on it. Even the apple juice wasn't that bad. Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts are every bit as tasty and fun today as they were forty years ago.

I'm really torn about these Jump Starts. On the one hand, I really like Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts, and I think it's pretty cool that they package these small quantities. My mom would have loved single-wrapped Pop-Tarts - there would have been no second pastry left behind in the box to get soft in the summer humidity while it was waiting for a kid to eat it. And those little cups of Frosted Flakes are the perfect size for a quick snack when it's three hours to supper and you just want a quick munch to take the edge off.

On the other hand, I really don't think it's that great an idea to package up so much sugar into one meal kit designed to be eaten at one sitting. Remember how Pop-Tarts had been marketed as an after-school snack for so many years? Kellogg's is basically bundling up snack items and pushing them as breakfast - and trying to weasel people into thinking it's healthy by cutting out a bit of sugar and labelling the cereal as "reduced sugar."

I'm probably not going to buy these again - I'm not really in the demographic for them anyway - but if I had kids I'd probably pick up a bunch of them and break them down into components for rationing out over the course of a week or so. A kid will still get a kick out of eating cereal from one of those disposable bowls, and I could pair that 1-ounce serving with some toast and peanut butter, saving the Pop-Tart for an after-school snack with a glass of milk. Far better to use them that way than to just let the kid gorge on all that processed sugar and high-fructose corn syrup all at once.

One final note about this "reduced sugar" nonsense (from The Washington Times):

Nutrition scientists who reviewed the lower-sugar versions of six major brands of sweetened cereals at the request of the Associated Press found they have no significant nutritional advantages over their full-sugar counterparts.

The scientists from five universities found that although the new cereals do have less sugar, the calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and other nutrients are almost identical to the full-sugar cereals.

"You're supposed to think it's healthy," said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author of a book critical of the food industry's influence on public health. "This is about marketing. It is about nothing else. It is not about kids' health."

Blame the calorie woes on crunch. To preserve cereals' taste and texture, sugar is replaced with other carbohydrates that have the same calories as sugar and are no better nutritionally.

Kellogg's website
Ingredients and Nutritional Information for Frosted Flakes Jump-Starts



Michele said...

Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts in the same meal? OMG! I'd be buzzing from sugar shock. :-)

Robin said...

hey man I do not know about kids but I do love them at this point of time when I am a grown up but yes they are liked by kids a lot and it definitely serves as a good breakfast