The cereal-box challenge:

We have breakfast together every morning, generally featuring cereal and fruit. It's a pleasant way to start the day, checking on the day's activities, discussing the front-page news and watching the traffic on state Route 520, once again realizing how pleased we are not to be in the midst of it.

However, our peaceful breakfast seems to become more and more of a challenge. It isn't the state of the world or the activities of the day. No. It's the cereal boxes. No one can get them open.

I watch a cereal box passed around the table as one after another gives up the effort and passes it on to the next determined, but bound-to-fail, brave soul.

It astonishes me to see grown men doing amazing contortions as they try to get the boxes to open, men who work out vigorously and walk for miles daily. Or see women who can run up four fights of stairs without puffing unable to open a little cereal box.

And while we are attempting to do it, the cereal lover is growing weaker and weaker from hunger.

Knives, forks, keys, even knitting needles are tried and abandoned as these makeshift tools are unable to do the job. What are we to do?

Cereal, highly touted as marvelous for hearts, is not available. Eggs, we always have, but I'm told that eggs do frightful things to our cholesterol.

Action must be taken to inform manufacturers that we won't take it any more. Hence, I'm compelled to take the following step.


Dear Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Post:

A large segment of the population is living out their golden years. According to the authorities, an equally large segment of society, the baby boomers, is about to join them over the next few years - a marketer's dream come true. I fear you are on the verge of losing that market.

This is a very loyal group of people, a group that grew up doing what their mother told them, day after day: "Eat your cereal before you go to school so you will grow big and strong." They said it, and we did it and continued to do so for the next 60, 70, 80 years.

But now we are beginning to doubt the need for such loyalty, especially when we feel the need for a shower if and when we manage to open a box of cereal at breakfast.

Have you tried to open those little boxes? If you have, I'm sure you will recognize the truth of what I say. Every morning, we must fight for survival, tearing at the box with arthritic fingers and then admit defeat and seek help from our neighbor.

There are times when I fear the frustration will boil over, cereal boxes will be hurdled all over the dining room and stamped upon while onlookers cheer the rebels on.

In this age of technology, we can put a man on the moon and clone a cow. We have garage doors that open and cars that lock from a distance.

We even have some manufacturers who have developed methods to open a package of gum or cake mix or candy. Just a mere pull at a strip of plastic or the zip of a zipper-lock bag, and raisins, cheese and even jerky become edible, too.

Surely, Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Post, your research and development staff should be able to accomplish equally successful devices.

Remember, there are millions of us daily having our morning cereal, battling the boxes and contemplating change: toast, muffin or even hot cereal.

Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Post, which breakfast we choose is in your hands.

ROBERTA COLE can be reached via e-mail at

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