Dear Quaker Oats,
It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that I have decided to see other oatmeal.
No, no, don’t cry. Stop. Listen to me.
We have been together for a long time, some 30 years, by my count.
I remember when I was little, and you came into my life. My mom would often make us regular oatmeal. Like most children, we would try and hurry through the regular oatmeal because, let’s be honest – that container made an awesome drum.
But there were times when a quicker path to a nice warm breakfast was needed, and that is where you came into play, with your delicious Instant Oatmeal. (It was not instant, as you well know, as you still had to heat water, put it in a bowl, etc. But I suppose your marketing crews decided Really Quick Oatmeal or It Will Be Ready Before the Toast Oatmeal didn’t have the same zing.)
As a child, I normally had three packets of your delicious maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal. Oftentimes, my mother would buy the variety pack. I would sometimes suffer through the cinnamon and spice or apples and cinnamon. Some mornings, I would pick up the box to see the only thing left in there were a couple of the regular packets. And there they would stay, as no one in the history of mankind has eaten the regular packets of oatmeal from the Variety Pack. They are like those packets of silica that come in an electronics box.
But for the most part, I stuck with maple and brown sugar. You were my comfort food. Most mornings growing up, that was my breakfast. I took you to college with me. You came with me to my first apartment after college. I even passed my love of you onto my children. Yes, for three decades we started most every morning together, even though I have since throttled back to a mere two packs each morning.
Quaker, I would love to say the old cliche of “It’s not you, it’s me.” But I gotta be honest with you here – it’s you. You changed.
It started a year ago or so, when I served up my morning ritual bowl of oatmeal. I took a bite and immediately noticed it tasted different from my normal bowl. I went to check the box to make sure I had not inadvertently served up those silica packets.
Turns out, Quaker, you got yourself on a little health kick and are now producing a maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal with 50 percent less sugar. Hey, good for you for offering healthy alternatives, but I gotta tell you, to me – it was 50 percent less enjoyable.
But you still had the old standby instant oatmeal, so we could stay together, even if you did package the midlife crisis oatmeal in a box remarkably similar to my usual offering.
And then, Quaker, you have become someone I didn’t even know any more. One morning, I took a bite of … something different. On your website, you boast that you’ve added “bigger oats for a heartier texture.” You even tell us, “We’re making our oatmeal better, starting with some of your favorite flavors, so you can be amazing.”
You know what was amazing? Thirty years of eating the same breakfast and looking forward to it every day. If I will consume around 10,000 bowls of something, here’s a thought – maybe it doesn’t need to be better. Maybe it was already pretty darn good.
But, alas, you have decided to turn yourself into something different. And so I must move on. I have tried a few other oatmeals, and none have quite hit the bullseye like you did for so many years. I will keep searching and maybe find a new morning staple.
It is sad to close this chapter in our life, as you were a good and faithful oatmeal. I hate to see you go. But you do what you have to do.
P.S. If you have a few dozen crates of the old stuff lying around, I’ll take them off your hands.