“Woman Reveals She Just Can’t Help Herself,” by Deborah Gottner

Oct 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Prose

Of all crimes perpetrated against breakfast foods–ranging everywhere from bagels to pop tarts to omelets–in the United States, the most heinous has gained nationwide exposure only in the last two decades. This crime against breakfast food is all the more profound because it targets the most innocuous victim: cereal.

Before exploring examples of the terrible crimes against breakfast cereal, it is essential to classify this common item. According to grocers throughout the United States, breakfast cereal constitutes approximately 10% of the supermarket environment. Being minorities, cereals do not have adequate resources to protect themselves. Their minority status once they leave the store constitutes an additional travesty–achieving a 2.5% representation in homes and businesses. Among the 350-some types of cereal, about half are sugared (tailor-made for children), 1/10 are granola, approximately 1/6 are oatmeal, and about 1/4 are flakes (corn or bran).[1] Because of their low intelligence, flakes become easy prey; cereal slaughterers target them the most.

On June 7, 2009, police arrested Sylvia Spoon in the five-story, 102-room mansion her parents gave her when she left high school. Her parents, concerned about her welfare as a single woman, ensured she would never need to go on welfare. Spoon inherited more than just the mansion, though; she received at birth an extreme aversion to cereal, especially flakes (they remind her of her younger sister who happens to be blonde). She focused her rage on one brand: Special K®. In her sentencing interview, Spoon admitted to spying on her mother as she took a butter knife and repeatedly stabbed the defenseless food while shouting expletives. At first, Spoon stared in horror and disbelief, but with time grew desensitized to cereal mutilation. Predictably, it was Special K® that had incurred her mother’s wrath.

When Tom Brokaw asked why she had selected her unique method of torture, Spoon revealed, “I wanted a close connection to my victim and silverware was too big a barrier. Instead of using utensils like so many cereal killers, I use my hands, crushing each flake until there’s nothing left but fragments. It is extremely satisfying to do this.”

When asked if there were any other triggers in her childhood that led to these destructive tendencies, Spoon pointed to her mother’s constant demoralizing statements against the hapless cereal. “I was unmoved. I didn’t even see Special K as cereal anymore.”

Spoon’s story is not unique. Although only a dozen people more or less can be labeled cereal killers, the brutal nature of the act warrants scrutiny. How is a cereal killer different from any other food killer, or those who don’t kill food at all? (Jainists only consume food already dead…they neither harvest grain nor pull vegetables.)

Dr. Herbert Nutrimentum, in response to these questions, indicates that the biggest distinction between a cereal killer and a “normal person” is a cereal killer is unable to have a normal relationship with other foods. Whereas ordinary people purchase produce and wash and cut fruit and vegetables carefully before consumption, the cereal killer feels terrified of foods he or she cannot control. Because of its delicate nature, foddapaths[2] become obsessed with cereal and often target one brand. In many cases, cereal becomes a surrogate victim for another food that has more power such as chocolate and chips. The breakfast cereal has a malleability and resiliency most other foods lack and contains blandness easy to control. This may be why few foddapaths target granola.

In extreme cases, foddapaths will consume the cereal after mutilation and keep a trophy of the victim. In Spoon’s case, she stored the plastic bags that cradle the cornflakes. She burns all other evidence. She, like many other cereal killers, is meticulous: she disposes the evidence miles away from her home to avoid detection.

Like most cereal killers, she made a fateful mistake that led authorities to her door. She, like dozens of other incarcerated perpetrators, undergoes extensive psychiatric care.

[1] Statistics are approximate and have not been researched.

[2] Those who are maladjusted toward food and have no empathy concerning cuisine. Not all foddapaths are cereal killers, but all cereal killers are foddapaths.


deborah gottner lives in Colorado with one husband, one dog (no, they are not the same entity, and no she is not polygamous), one fish, and one snake. By day, deborah performs in front of a captive audience containing eye-rolling, insult-slinging adolescents at Roosevelt High School and by night, she practices her new routine for the next day. during the summer she sleeps. and eats. and sleeps. sometimes writes. deborah has published poetry and fiction in small periodicals but is hoping to one day make her “big break.”

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