I’m The Off-Brand Froot Loops, And I Can’t Pretend Anymore

For years I’ve been ignored, shaken, and left stale in the back of the pantry. I’ve embraced cheap mothers and their children. I’m not good enough to be welcomed by a mega cereal conglomerate and charge $6 a box. But it’s time to show the world and the cereal aisle who I really am and that I’m not just the off-brand Froot Loops. I’ve decided to spread my flaps and show who Fruity O’s really is.

If you want to be taken seriously in the very serious cereal world, you have to become a household name. You need a cartoon animal that would murder their first born just for a taste of that sweet milky nectar of cereal. Froot Loops chose an endangered caricature to represent their brand, while I? We just hastily made the box red and hoped for the best. I had real dreams, you know? I wanted to be the type of cereal toddlers drooled over, and not just because they’re underdeveloped. Kind of like how you see a box of tissues and you say, “I masturbate into Kleenex every night.” That’s what I want. But now I’m at the highest shelf of the cereal aisle where no naive 6-year-old can reach me. 

For so, so long, I tried to do everything “right,” just to try and fit in with the big brands. I hired a cheap Toucan Sam impersonator to convince customers we were in the same league. I begged my distributors to cut their margins so I could afford to dress up in trendy cereal boxes instead of the lame resealable bags I was used to. At one point, I was even flashing the plastic toy spoon prizes inside me, essentially prostituting myself. Thank God the kids started choking on them and I could stop doing that. But, I did all this just for the fighting chance that some kid in a shopping cart would scream at the top of their lungs and throw a tantrum, pissing off everyone in the store just because they wanted…me. I wanted to be like Froot Loops, because I wanted to be wanted. Could you blame me?

Unfortunately, being on the same shelf as Froot Loops has given me total imposter syndrome. I documented my imposter syndrome experience on LinkedIn and I’ve been getting a lot of support and positive affirmation from my off-brand colleagues like Golden Corn Nuggets, Frosted Shredded Wheats, and Apple Orbits. Sure, not every off-brand cereal gets lucky to be in a Walmart, but what makes me so special? I could only be in Walmart because of the parents who convinced themselves and their kids I’m the same thing. I’m a dollar cheaper than your favorite cereal and that extra dollar your parents save is putting you through college. But your Arizona State degree still makes me feel like a complete fraud. 

All those years I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, I sort of lost myself in the process. I was so consumed with becoming as close to Froot Loops as I possibly could without infringing on a copyright law, that I never got to know the real Fruity O’s. What do I want out of life? Is it too late to follow my passions? Do I even want to be part of a nutritious, balanced breakfast? As I inch closer and closer to my expiration date, I’m desperately trying to make up for lost time. So I did a little “Eat, Pray, Love” to discover the ingredients that make up this special little cereal, and I’ve come to some revelations. I’ve found that I don’t need to share the front of my box with a recently released movie character to feel happy and fulfilled. I don’t need to include Box Tops because God knows those aren’t going to supplement a school levy not passing. I don’t need to drop $5 million on a commercial to sell myself—because let’s be honest, Froot Loops pretty much does that for me.

So…hi. I’d like to formally re-introduce myself. My name is Fruity O’s. I love punk music. I’m actually really good at bowling. I have 5 times the amount of sugar Froot Loops has and am really, really unhealthy for you. I’m a cheap-ass alternative without even a meager crossword puzzle on the back of her box or promotional jingle to her name. And that’s okay. Because this is me. This is who I am, and I’m learning to love who that cereal is, despite all her flaws, imperfections, and added sugar. 

Emily and Diego’s work has appeared in The Onion, McSweeney’s, Robot Butt, Little Old Lady and more. You can read more of Diego’s work here and Emily’s work here.

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