The Cereal Murder Chronicles: Bring Me the Head of Count Chocula

23Oct14

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Paranormal Investigations: Damn it, I’m an adult. I turned 33 years old this October, and while shopping with my sister at a local drug-store, I ran across a display that gripped me in an existential crisis. It was a rack advertising the General Mills Halloween seasonal cereals: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry.

I realized that so far my life had been incomplete. I had never truly experienced the wonders of horror-based breakfast cereals. Oh, there were dim memories of a bowl or two at Grandma’s house, but that had been ages ago, when I could count off the years of my life on two hands and still have fingers remaining.

Mnemosyne is a fickle mistress. Those vague, wispy, cobweb-ridden recollections would never satisfy my adult epistemological needs. I needed to know. I needed to understand. For the briefest of moments, I burned with a super-nova passion. I didn’t want another Halloween to pass without me sampling the dark majesty of these mysterious breakfast cereals. So I slapped down my six dollars and I bought all three varieties of the vitamin-enriched corn and sugar mash with the smiling cartoon monster mascots.

I decided to begin my journey of discovery with Count Chocola, that smirking, self-satisfied autocrat, that surprisingly non-threatening creature of the Night. I would eat his cereal and gain his power. His vampirish charms would no longer hold any sway over my imagination.

Supernatural Preparations: Never let it be said that I do things in half-measures. For the authentic Count Chocula experience, you either go big or you go home. So I found the largest bowl in the cupboard and an equally hilarious serving spoon approximately the size of a gardening spade. To these I added approximately a quarter gallon of organic milk, because clearly I’m concerned about the quality and providence of the stuff that I shovel into my face-hole.

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Exhibit A. Actual healthy food and Hedorah the Smog Monster provided for scale.

Vampire’s Kiss?  The ad copy on the box promises “Chocolatety Cereal with Spooky-Fun Marshmallows”. To paraphrase the late, lamented Douglas Adams, chocolate-flavored breakfast cereals in my experience taste almost entirely unlike chocolate. I don’t know what bizarre, alchemical concoctions go into the manufacture of artificial chocolate flavoring. I don’t want to know. There are some secrets that humanity was never meant to unravel.

If cereals were rock music, then Count Chocula would be totally metal. It may not be clear from the above photograph, but the corn-derived bits are shaped like tiny skulls. Skulls. I was about to consume tiny, chocolate skulls. In my Warhammer 40K addled brain, this was no longer a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal. This was a sacrifice to Khorne: blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne.

It took me a moment of genuine introspection to realize that the freeze-dried marshmallow shapes were supposed to represent bats and ghosts. I hoped that neither were flavored like what they symbolized.

I screwed my courage to the sticking place, grasped my spoon, and hoisted an over-sized mouthful to my quivering lips.

I expected horrors.

Love at first bite: Imagine my surprise when I sunk my fangs into that first towering spoonful and found that not only was the material edible, but I actively enjoyed the taste.

Confession time: I have a bland palette. I like simple foods, foods that are neither too spicy nor too sweet, and Count Chocula appealed to this base instinct. The flavor was more malty than chocolately, and although the marshmallows produced a somewhat slimy texture, they added a burst of sweetness here and there that counter-balanced the bland but sturdy texture of the cereal skulls.

I devoured the entire bowl.

And thus I learned the true terror of the Count Chocula’s vampiric curse.

Damnation and Dire Consequences: This cereal is truly diabolical. Since it is not over-powering in its sweetness, it’s possible to – Conehead-like – consume mass quantities of Count Chocula without realizing how much the sudden intake of empty carbohydrates affects your body chemistry.

Have you ever seen a movie depicting vampires feeding? Have you ever noticed that vampires drain their victims with wild abandon, expressing an almost erotic joy that leaves them each a blood-spattered mess? Seriously, post-feeding vampires invariably look like what happens when you hand your two-year-old child a Sloppy Joe.

In short, I ate Count Chocula and made a face like this:

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For an orgiastic instant, I surged with a rush of sugar-induced mania that made me feel invincible. I felt like I could bend iron bars with my bare hands, impale onlookers with my glance, or explode into an angry cloud of bats. I felt like I could finally get my hands on that meddling do-gooder Van Helsing and wring his scrawny, pencil-neck.

And then came the Crash.

When the sugar-high wore off, ye gods, man! I felt like six pounds of ostrich crap in a five pound bag. It’s been several hours now, and still the thought of food makes me queasy and nauseous.

I realized that this must be what the vampires of legend feel like. An instant of ecstasy followed by an endless, malingering eternity of malaise. What I had consumed wasn’t merely a Halloween-themed breakfast cereal; it was a metaphor made flesh. The blood is the life, perhaps, but Count Chocula is the clammy grip of the grave.

You win this round, Nosferatu.

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