As a surprise to my husband, I upgraded our cable TV last fall during football season. So along with ESPN and HGTV, we were suddenly getting Cartoon Network. And Henry discovered the world of commercials.
I tried to shield him, I really did. I only allowed him to watch a couple of select shows and attempted to block the ads by, well, standing in front of the set. But the boy saw some commercials. And he became totally fixated on Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal. He talked about how good it looked, he pointed it out to me in the grocery store. And I resisted.
Until one day on a trip to the store with baby Sam, when I spotted Total Cinnamon Crunch cereal. I took a quick glance at the Nutrition Facts Panel: four grams of fiber (not bad), nine grams of sugar (just slightly better than Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s 10), and four grams of protein (also not bad). I tossed it in the cart, figuring I could dole it out to Henry as a special snack (and figuring, of course, that I would be his hero).
Well, he was thrilled alright. In fact, he thought it was the real thing and happily ate it as a bedtime snack.
Then one night, I reached over and snagged a handful of dry cereal for myself. And I realized (in that slow-motion action movie “nnnnnnooooooooooo!” kind of way) that something was terribly wrong.
I grabbed the box, scanned down the ingredient list, and found it: Sucralose. Sucralose! I couldn’t believe it. Note to cereal manufacturers: You just don’t go putting artificial sweeteners in breakfast cereal without at least placing a huge red warning label on the front of the box.
Needless to say, I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Not just because I think they taste bad, in a chemical kind of way. But also because I secretly worry those six-diet-pops-a-day drinkers may eventually grow an additional arm. And I don’t want my kids, with their tiny developing bodies, ingesting them. I’d rather have Henry eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal every morning with a side of ice cream than snacking on artificial sweeteners.
That’s not to say I caved. I never did buy the real deal. Football season ended, we downgraded our cable, and Henry forgot all about it. But I learned a lesson: Even if the baby is in the grocery cart screeching and shredding your coupon book to bits while horrified customers give you disapproving looks, read the ingredient list carefully. You never know what might be hiding in there.