24 February 2007

Life and What I Make of It

It’s an icon for my generation of Americans, a TV commercial that debuted a couple of years before my family got our first set and ran through my college years. Mikey (played by young John Gilchrist) unexpectedly eats a bowl of Life cereal as his older brothers watch. High drama indeed!

Now the message of this cereal for moms is clear: Life® is good for kids, but even the pickiest young eaters will like it anyway.

But the internal logic of the commercial always nagged at me. The experiment that Mikey’s older brothers design is, they acknowledge early on, unlikely to achieve their aims. So why, besides the dictates of Madison Avenue, do they behave as they do?

As I saw it, Mikey’s older brothers have two goals in regard to this strange new cereal that Mom says is good for them:

  • To get out of eating it.
  • Barring that, to find out how bad it really is.
If Mikey “won't eat it” because “he hates everything,” then putting the bowl in front of him won’t make the cereal disappear. Furthermore, the boys expect Mikey to have a negative reaction, which wouldn’t tell them a thing about whether they might actually like the cereal. So I never found this little vignette entirely verisimilitudinous.

Meanwhile--and this is the important thing to those of us who still eat Life--the cereal is getting soggier and soggier! Life is not a cereal that survives soaking well; it’s best consumed fresh and slightly moistened.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Mikey was played by Michael Lewis, currently an Executive Chef in Chicago, IL.

J. L. Bell said...

That disagrees with every article I've seen on the topic, starting with this one.