Breakfast Cereals

Okay, you know how advertisments for breakfast cereal on television always add the line “with toast, milk, and juice you have a balanced breakfast” Why do they do that? I’m assuming it’s rule but why? Pop Tarts claim they’re a breakfast food and they don’t have to state in the ads : no actual nutrition, better have some real food. So what gives?

If you’re just selling breakfast snacks, you don’t need to give detailed nutritional info. If you want to agressively market your product as better than the other mere “breakfast foods” you say that it’s part of a complete breakfast, but you’d better give some more specific info than that. After all, water is also part of a complete breakfast… but in what form and what part? Ah hell, my mind’s too cloudy in the morning to bother with trivial details; I’ll just down a few pop-tarts and a pot of coffee and let all the rest of the health nuts worry about balanced nutrition:D. Maybe the makers of breakfast junk food cater to that market group - “just eat our stuff; it tastes good”.

Cereal is a great source of calcium as long as you add milk. :smiley:

This is an old, old story: the original version was called “Stone Soup.” This beggar knocks on a woman’s door and holds up a stone, saying “This stone will make excellent soup.” She says, “Are you nuts?” He says, “Try cooking it in a big pot of water and see.” He tastes the water. “Mmm… it just needs some carrots.” Then it just needs some onions, potatoes, beans, etc. etc. By the time he’s done augmenting it, it really is good soup. Before serving, remove the stone.

Actually, one of the striking things about Pop Tarts is that when the announcer says, “Part of this complete breakfast,” they show two pop tarts and a glass of milk, rather than a pitcher of milk, a glass of orange juice, a half a grapefruit, a bowl of strawberries, and a side of bacon.

I think they have the same pictures on the packaging, too, so you could do a bit of comparison shopping in the cereal aisle.

I always figured that the FDA required breakfast cereal to be placed in some sort of nutritional context, but searching on FDA and “part of this complete breakfast” yielded nada.

Yeah, in the mid-70s I noticed that cereal commercials suddenly started going all-out in portraying their product as “part of a complete breakfast”. I always figured this was some requirement imposed on them. After all, why are cereal ads telling you to eat toast? Wouldn’t they rather you eat 2 bowls of cereal?

Although I can not offer proof, my sneaking suspicion is…

False advertising? The required legal disclaimer?

(I am from the U.S., this post takes into account U.S. law & regulations, which may be different elsewhere.)

“Our Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs make a complete breakfast!” This would leave the producers open to a lawsuit. It makes a specific product claim, and if challenged in court the producers would be required to back up that claim (insert here: legal phrase that means “if you sell a product for money it better dang well be what you say it is”).

“Our Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs are part of this complete breakfast!” Nothing to sue about here, no specific product claims are made (other than “You can choose to include our product in an otherwise nutritionally complete breakfast” which is, of course, true). However, it sounds almost identical to the first one. Close enough for advertising execs (and suckers).

In the U.S. there are specific rules and regulations about how you can & can’t advertise on TV. For instance, in beer commercials they never actually show anyone drinking beer. Buying it, holding it, talking about it, using it to attract members of the opposite sex… yes. Actually drinking it… no.

There are also regulations about advertising during “children’s programming”, which is where many breakfast cereal commercials are broadcast.

The fact that most (if not all) of these breakfast cereal commercials contain the same element (shot of cereal, toast, milk, juice, and stating “Part of this complete breakfast”) makes me suspect there’s a specific regulation driving the content of these commercials. Another possibility is that ALL the advertising agencies in the U.S. got together 25 years ago (when I was a wee lad) and decided that they will ALL make ALL their commercials for ALL the different brands of breakfast cereal have the IDENTICAL element in EVERY one.

In summary, my hypotheses are:

  1. It’s a regulatory issue, OR
  2. All advertising agencies are in a big conspiracy.

What do YOU think?

And, is there anyone out there intimately familiar with FCC regulations on Saturday morning (kids) broadcasting and advertising? Care to share what you know?

Somebody once said that if you ate the cereal packet ( if made of cardboard) with milk and sugar,instead of its contents,you would get the same nutritional value.

A longer version can be found here.

I have NO idea why they don’t say cereal makes a complete breakfast. What is or is not a complete breakfast is entirely subjective. Someone might think a single grape is a complete breakfast. It strikes me they are trying to say that cereal, toast, juice, milk, etc. is a HEALTHY breakfast, but they never say healthy. The whole thing is odd.

This is not so hard to believe if you consider that just 2 companies (Kellogg and General Mills) are responsible for the overwhelming majority of breakfast cereal commercials.

A fine debut, bookbabe! Quite a stumper.

Haha! Finally, some pay dirt. (Can you tell that this question is making me nuts?)

From the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit Self Regulatory Guidelines for Children’s Advertising:

So this is a voluntary act on the part of the advertisers. Thus, there is no definition of a “complete” breakfast. Maybe I’m misremembering the Poptarts thing . . .

Well Podkayne beat me to it, so here are some odd things found during the search:
Everything about cereals. Even Powder Toast Man!!!

More cereal:

And finally:
The Mountain view cereal!:

[sub]Now with gummy bears. :D[/sub]

I’ve often wondered if it’s the result of economic links with Philip Morris that you can’t find a SINGLE children’s cereal that doesn’t have nicotinic acid, (derived from tobacco) added to it.

“Geez, nicotine’s getting a bad name, let’s call it Niacin…”

You realize that niacin is also known as vitamin B3. The name was changed from nicotinic acid precisely because people might confuse it with nicotine.

The phrase “part of a complete breakfast” is semantically equivalent to “not a complete breakfast” (because its only a part of one). So I think it’s actually a disclaimer cleverly disguised as a claim.

Yes, I’m well aware of that. I’m not suggesting that niacin is nicotine-- Only that it is extracted from stalk tobacco in much the same way that vitamin C is usually taken from acerola-- Because that’s where it’s found in the highest concentrations.

It’s necessary to have small amounts of it in your diet, but it occurs naturally in wheat, many fruits, and dairy products. The large amounts that are added to food products are not healthy, and companies don’t add it for nutritional purposes, but because it is a preservative.

It’s also an anti-cholinergic toxin, a nervous stimulant, and has a profound effect on your brain chemistry and blood pressure.

I’ve looked into it fairly extensively, since eating foods that have been supplemented with niacin hurts like hell for me. (Burning skin-- not an allergy, but a universal effect that I’m just more sensitive to than most.)
As far as I know, the only addictive additive that the FDA allows to be marketed to children is caffeine.

I took a large dose of niacin once, and it made my ears hot. What was that about brain chemistry? Could you tell us more specifically?

This is not true, while I beleive there is a agreement on the part of beer and liquor companies to do this (in conjunction with TV broadcasting) it is a self-governing thing that is not grounded in any legal basis. It was merely a pre-emptive measure taken by the companies to play “good citizen”. As of late this trend is crumbling and beer drinkng is routinely portrayed on TV over the last couple decades. Similar to this agreement was a voluntary prohibition of broadcast advertising for liquor products. Not to long ago Crown Royal broke the line of liqour companies by airing TV ads, to a certain level of notariaty. Since the advertising market, for beer comapnies especially, is probably the most conservative and cautious branch of the industry they’ll probably be the last ones to forgo the agreement.

I’ve looked briefly for some cited to no avail, feel free to prove me wrong.