The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 March 2005

Harvard Has America Laughing Once Again

College Brats Furious Over Cereal Choices

It's funny to hear to hear Bay State leaders viewing "top quality" universities and hospitals, as the best way to market Massachusetts to outside companies, who might dare consider entering deep blue territory for business relocation purposes.

That's because America has recently been laughing at its best-known campus, Harvard University, for several reasons. So much for Ivy League prestige.

The flap over Larry Summers's actually quite tame attempt at kicking off a lively debate over female participation in the sciences, turned into a major faculty flap, which revealed to American how truly intolerant and intellectually stagnant the PC-dominated campus has become.

After months of bickering, Summers is hanging on by a thread, after one division gave him a rare no-confidence vote.

Even more devastating to Harvard's image, was the "controversy" over a speech by Jada Pinkett Smith, in which she told young women they could in fact have it all. Campus lesbians found the speech too "heteronormative", meaning Smith forgot to pander to ultra-sensitive special interest groups, during her discussion.

Millions of Americans went into hysterical bouts of laughter, upon sight of the "word" heteronormative, from which they have yet to emerge.

Now we get courtesy of the Boston Globe, a true sense of the state of Harvard undergrad bratdom, that reveals what really matters to them: branded breakfast cereals.

I wish I were kidding, but I'm not.

Forget Darfur refugees, right-to-life debates, global hotspots, domestic issues and other irrelevant silliness. What really matters is whether Kelloggs Frosted Flakes are available in the dining halls.

Dorm-dwelling undergrads are furious that their favorite branded cereals have been replaced by cheaper, lesser-known names. These are the kind sold at places like (gasp) Ocean State Job Lots. No doubt the brats didn't make too many trips there with their parents while growing up.

It's to the point where students have departed their Harvard Square coffee-houses, for trips into the big scary world of commoners, in search of grocery stores where they can buy Kelloggs cereals themselves. Imagine the horror!

So when the big "move to Massachusetts" (the only state losing population) marketing campaign is rolled out, I sure hope they don't mention Harvard, unless they want to give Americans another reason (previous yuk attacks have involved Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, among others) to laugh at the Bay State.

(Boston Globe- Jenn Abelson- Photo Credit- Mark Wilson)

There are some things that even a $40,000-a-year Ivy League education can't buy. At Harvard, it's Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms.

Angry cereal fans are lashing out after Harvard University cleared its dining halls this school year of brand-name cereals, such as Fruit Loops and Cap'n Crunch, and swapped them for less expensive, apparently healthier options like Tootie Fruities and Colossal Crunch.

''I was shocked to see they had done this to our cereals," said Harvard senior Cameron Moccari, who last week launched the group ''Harvard Students for the Reimplementation of Brand-Named Cereals" on, a popular website that allows students to meet new friends or form study groups. ''They replaced all of the familiar cereals with ones that have weird names and don't taste good."

Harvard's Jeffrey Fernandez (left) and Daniel Schofield-Bodt shopped for cereals.

For Harvard sophomore Allison Kessler, it's annoying to pay more than $4,000 for a meal plan that scrimps on her favorite breakfast foods. Particularly since, Kessler, like many college students, eats cereal several times a day.

''I used to eat Lucky Charms for lunch and dinner," she said. ''The fake stuff gets real soggy, and I've just stopped eating cereal. This is not fair."

Harvard officials say student surveys showed an interest in healthier, organic products, and brand-name cereals have been slow to move in that direction. At the same time, the major cereal companies are raising prices about 8 percent to 10 percent per year, more than double the rate for natural and lesser-known cereals, according to Jami M. Snyder, a spokeswoman for Harvard University Dining Services. ''We have a responsibility to spend their dollars wisely," Snyder said.

Harvard has reduced its six-figure cereal budget by 25 percent this academic year since shelving most brand-name cereals, including Apple Jacks, Cheerios, and Frosted Flakes.


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