I’ve been asked, “Why Suzy Cornflakes?”
While I do live in a household full of Dad-jokes and corny jokes (thanks to my witty hubby and sons), the reference is actually to a cereal box from the early 1970s. I’ve searched online to find images of it, but with no luck.
Before even that box, in the 1960s the cereal called “Wheaties” became very popular. Full of whole wheat goodness, it was dubbed “The Breakfast of Champions.” Many may still remember the great sports heroes featured on the front of the boxes over the years. Prior to the famous folk, the boxes held images of cute little children because the cereal was marketed to parents who wanted a healthy breakfast for their kids. One of the children pictured was a cute little strawberry blond girl with freckles. The resemblance to me was not missed by my brothers, and one of my very first nicknames in life was: Wheatie.
A few years later we moved to Northern Baltimore County in Maryland, a very rural area with thousands of acres of farmland. One of our neighbors (I have mentioned him before) was Mr. Ballard. We went to the same church as his family, and worked together on the local, church-organized horseshows. His children were excellent riders and older than me. When I was a teen, and they were grown or in college, I helped clean Mr. and Mrs. Ballard’s house each week. At 16 I had sold my own pony, and by 18 I began to exercise his hunters. That subject is book-worthy, for I will never, ever forget the many experiences riding horses for and with “Mr. B.” He was more than an icon; in many ways he was my hero.
Back to cornflakes. Generic products became prolific with inflation of the 1970s, and big-name brands became too expensive for many household budgets. The market flourished with identical products, but in plainer packaging and cheaper pricing. Sometimes the manufacturer was one-in-the-same with the name brand, as is common today with store-brands. Popular “Kellogg’s Cornflakes” was rivaled by a generic box that I only remember as light-blue on the front, with the face of yet another adorable, strawberry-blonde, freckled little girl. Mr. B immediately nicknamed me: “Suzy Cornflakes.”
My brothers still call me Wheatie from time to time, but no one calls me Suzy Cornflakes anymore, since Mr. Ballard passed away several years ago. He was close to the age of 90 and I smile to think that he was probably on horseback not long before his passing. I will always remember him, grateful for the rides and the advice and support that only a very special and sage human being can gift to another…to a talkative, freckle-faced, strawberry-blonde adolescent.
Suzy Cornflakes will forever remember Mr. B.