There are a few highly processed, yet magically delicious foods that as a celiac disease sufferer, I am destined to live without.
Wonder Bread, PopTarts, Cheerios…
I admit, I’m late to the party thrown by General Mills in conjunction with the Celiac Disease Foundation.
This is how I found out that General Mills decided to make Cheerios (in nearly all flavors) gluten free:
Scene: Whole Foods.
Nic (disgustingly healthy boring food in hand) walks through the cereal aisle to get to the checkout counter.
Nic: Oh my gosh, I wish they made good tasting food gluten free. Like cereal! It doesn’t even make sense that oat cereal isn’t gluten free. I wish so much that I could eat Honey Nut Cheerios. I have developed weird tastebud memory- I can still remember what they taste like and it’s cruel that the imitation companies expect me to think that “Gluten Free Yummy O’s” or whatever taste anything like real Cheerios.”
Mom: What do you mean? Cheerios are gluten free now.
Nic (stops dead at the end of the aisle): What? No. I would have heard that. Where did you hear that?
Mom: On the radio.
Nic (rolls eyes): No. No way. I don’t believe you. You shouldn’t mess with me like that. Psh. On the radio…
Mom (rolls eyes just as fervently): Go check. I mean it. It’s real.
Nic pauses skeptically then goes tearing back down the aisle.
Nic: No way. No. Way. Oh my gosh. The radio was right! (Hugs box of Honey Nut Cheerios. Voice jumps at least an octave in excitement) This is the greatest day. No seriously, like you have no idea how happy I am right now. I mean, my life is CHANGED.
Nervous fellow cereal purchasers move away slowly from deranged girl having a euphoric Cheerio dance party in the middle of the aisle.
I’m too embarrassed to reveal the level of cheer(ios!) I reached when my sister came home from Costco with a double value size 2-pack. It was intense.
Nearly as intense?
Yeah, that would be my level of freakout when I heard that some boxes of supposedly safe Cheerios had been contaminated with wheat (gluten!!) at a factory in California. I happened to read that on the Internet at the same moment I was busy shoveling some honey coated goodness into my mouth. Fortunately, my Cheerios were not from a contaminated batch (if they had been, I would probably have to have my entire digestive system replaced due to the excessive amount of Honey Nut Cheerios I’ve been ingesting) and I triple checked the labels. Luckily, there’s a whole country of fly-over states keeping me a safe distance from contaminated cereal products. #EastCoastSnob
This glutenizing snafu did put in perspective though how even if a traditionally gluten-filled company has the best of intentions, accidents can still happen.
Personally, I’m pretty cranky that PopTarts isn’t even trying when other companys/products are quickly populating their shelves with gluten-free versions (Oh hey, Eggo waffles! Long time no see!) because I used to live on PopTarts (at least on every other weekend and some holidays) and I would probably lose my mind if they made them and they tasted like the real thing (which are just sugar and butter anyway- how hard can it be Kellogg’s?).
But I do understand the hesitation. For Celiac disease sufferers like me, a contamination isn’t just an upset stomach and a return of the unused product. Rather, it can mean intense, unrelenting pain on the “mild” end of reactions, and damage to intestines and other organs through the autoimmune response gluten activates on the “severe” end. Not many companies want the responsibility. I get that.
Part of me applauds General Mills (THANK YOU FOR MY CHEERIOS!) while another part of me remains skeptical that they can pull this whole partial-switch thing off (other General Mills cereals remain bottomless pits of gluten).
I do appreciate their efforts though.
I mean really, have you ever had a bowl of Gluten Free Yummy O’s?
My mid-afternoon snacktime is now legitimately yummy.
Check your Cheerios Chronics!